Two-time Olympic gold medalists and former UConn All-American guards Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi are among the eight players named to the 2009-12 USA Basketball Women’s National Team, USA Basketball announced Monday.
They will be joined by fellow 2008 Beijing gold medalists Tamika Catchings, who has also won two gold medals, Seimone Augustus, Sylvia Fowles, Kara Lawson, Candace Parker and Cappie Pondexter. Augustus suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee June 17 and will not participate with the team this fall. She is, however, expected to attend training camp.
The players were selected by the five-member USA Basketball Women’s National Team Player Selection Committee. Additional athletes and coaches will be invited to participate in the USA’s first training camp, which will be held this fall. The dates and site will be announced at a later date.
“Naming these eight players was not that difficult of a decision to make, I’m sure, because those eight were truly instrumental in winning the Olympics in Beijing,” UConn and USA Basketball Women’s National Team head coach Geno Auriemma said. “As long as they want to play and maintain their level of play, I can’t see them not being on the team. I’m excited about the fact that their experience and their knowledge of what it takes to win a gold medal is going to help me tremendously as we move forward.’’
In addition to their Olympic experience, the eight named players have competed extensively internationally for USA Basketball. Bird and Catchings are two-time USA World Championship team members. Augustus, Taurasi and Parker were on the 2006 USA World Championship Team, and Pondexter was an alternate for the 2006 USA World Championship Team.
As has been the case in the past, the USA team will be fluid and athletes will be added progressively to the National Team roster. It is expected that the official 12-member 2010 USA World Championship and 2012 U.S. Olympic teams will consist of players from the 2009-12 National Team.
The USA Basketball Women’s National Team, which will be seeking its fourth straight gold medal in London, will compete in the 2010 FIBA World Championship in the Czech Republic. If necessary, it will also compete in the 2011 FIBA Americas Olympic Qualifying Tournament and, if the U.S. should qualify, the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London July 26-Aug. 12 as well as additional USA training camps and exhibition games.
The U.S. will initially look to win the title at the 2010 FIBA World Championship Sept. 23-Oct. 3 and earn an automatic berth to the 2012 Olympic Games. Should the U.S. not finish with the gold medal in 2010, it would have two additional chances to qualify for the Olympics – the 2011 FIBA Americas Olympic Qualifying Tournament and 2012 FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament (dates and site TBD).
“I’m looking forward to the training camp this fall,’’ Auriemma said. “I know not all of them are going to be there, I would presume, because a few of them will be playing in the championship series in the WNBA. I understand that, but just to be around them to let them get a feel for me, it will give me an opportunity to evaluate what they can do, what they do well. It’ll help me put them in a position to be successful. I’m really looking forward to that. And not just with the eight players that we’re talking about, but also the players who will be added to finish off the training camp roster. It’ll be an exciting time for me and I hope it’s an exciting time for all of them.’’