The 2016 U.S. Olympic Women’s Basketball Team was announced Wednesday, and features nine returning Olympic gold medalists and many players with ties to the University of Connecticut.
UConn head women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma is the head coach, and the team includes UConn alums Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi, Tina Charles, and Maya Moore along with new UConn star Breanna Stewart, who was also on the 2016 NCAA winning team.
Elena Delle Donne was also briefly a UConn Husky.
Headlined by three-time gold medalists and tri-captains Bird (Seattle Storm), Tamika Catchings (Indiana Fever) and Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury), the team was selected by the USA Basketball Women’s National Team Player Selection Committee and is pending approval by the U.S. Olympic Committee.
The 2016 U.S. Olympic Team also includes two-time Olympic gold medalists Seimone Augustus (Minnesota Lynx) and Sylvia Fowles (Minnesota Lynx); and 2012 Olympic gold medalists Tina Charles (New York Liberty), Angel McCoughtry (Atlanta Dream), Maya Moore (Minnesota Lynx) and Lindsay Whalen (Minnesota Lynx). Competing in their first Olympic Games are Delle Donne (Chicago Sky), Brittney Griner (Phoenix Mercury) and Stewart.
All 12 of the U.S. players began competing for USA Basketball while still in high school or college. In addition to their Olympic experience, Bird is a four-time USA World Championship Team member and three-time FIBA World Championship gold medalist; Catchings, Charles, McCoughtry, Moore, Taurasi and Whalen have captured two World Championship gold medals; Fowles earned gold at the 2010 Worlds; and Augustus, Griner and Stewart earned a gold medal at the 2014 FIBA World Championship.
“This was an incredibly difficult decision for the selection committee, but a very positive challenge given the talented athletes in our pool,” said Carol Callan, USA Basketball Women’s National Team Director and chair of the USA Basketball Women’s National Team Player Selection Committee. “If you combine the returning 2012 Olympians with the 2014 world champions, you have 15 very qualified candidates. Add to that an emerging group of young athletes and the decision becomes that much harder to settle on a final 12-member roster."
The U.S. will open play against Senegal on either August 6 or August 7. The 2016 Olympic Games will be held August 5 to 21 in Rio de Janeiro. The U.S. team is the five-time defending Olympic gold medalists.
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