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2008 U.S. Olympic Women's Basketball Team

Games of the XXIXth Olympiad -- 2008

  • Date:
    Nov 30, 2010

Beijing, China • August 8-24, 2008

Dominance. That's the word used by eventual four-time Olympic gold medalist Lisa Leslie used at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Women's Basketball Team's pre-Olympic Games press conference on Aug. 6. She, along with her teammates and coaches lived up to that prediction by blowing away their competition by an average margin of victory of 37.6 points a game en route to an unblemished 8-0 slate and the USA's fourth consecutive gold medal and sixth overall in eight Olympiads.

2008 USA RESULTS (8-0)
USA 97 Czech Republic 57
USA 108 China 63
USA 97 Mali 41
USA 93 Spain 55
USA 96 New Zealand 60
USA 104 South Korea 60
USA 67 Russia 52
USA 92 Australia 65


1. USA (8-0) 7. Czech Rep. (2-4)
2. Australia (7-1) 8. S. Korea (2-4)
3. Russia (6-2) 9. Latvia (1-4)
4. China (5-3) 10. New Zealand (1-4)
5. Spain (3-3) 11. Brazil (1-4)
6. Belarus (2-4) 12. Mali (0-5)

Leslie, the first to win her four golds in succession, joins five-time Olympian Teresa Edwards, the most decorated person to ever step onto the Olympic hardwood, as the only athlete, male or female, to capture four Olympic basketball gold medals. Edwards' four golds (1984, 1988, 1996, 2000) were interrupted in 1992 with a bronze medal.

In capturing the 2008 gold medal, the USA became the first women's traditional team sport to claim four straight gold medals, cementing USA Basketball's place as the most dominant program in women's U.S. Olympic Team history. Further, the win extended the USA's Olympic winning streak to 33 games, dating back to 1992 bronze medal victory over Cuba, and marked the USA's third straight victory over Australia in the Olympic gold medal game.

Leslie is not the only 2008 U.S. Olympic women's basketball player to stand on top of the medal podium more than once. Katie Smith earned her third straight; Sue Bird, Tamika Catchings, DeLisha Milton-Jones, Diana Taurasi and Tina Thompson captured their second; while Seimone Augustus, Sylvia Fowles, Kara Lawson, Candace Parker and Cappie Pondexter brought home their first Olympic gold medals.

USA head coach Anne Donovan, who has been a member of five U.S. Olympic Teams -- three as a player, once as an assistant coach and now as a head coach -- was assisted by University of Texas head coach Gail Goestenkors, an assistant on the 2004 U.S. Olympic Team staff; three-time Olympic gold medalist and University of South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley; and Connecticut Sun head coach Mike Thibault.

Making the USA's gold medal run even more impressive was the fact that the U.S. had limited time to train together. Prior to its first game on Aug. 9, the team had nine days of practice together as a full 12-member unit. Three were at Stanford University July 27-29; the squad had one practice and three exhibition contests at the FIBA Diamond Ball Tournament in Haining, China, Aug. 2-5; and a pair of practices in Beijing Aug. 7-8.

Opening with a 97-57 victory over the Czech Republic on Aug. 9, the United States, which in its first six games owned the lead by the end of the first quarter and never trailed in the final three stanzas, was led by 17 points from Taurasi as all 12 U.S. players scored in the game.

Facing China on Aug. 11, the host country proved no match for the deep U.S. squad as the Americans zoomed to a 108-63 victory. In addition to Thompson, whose 27 points tied Cynthia Cooper and McClain for the fourth-best single-game scoring output in the women's U.S. Olympic record book, the USA was helped by 18 points and eight rebounds from Fowles, 12 points from Parker and a 10-point, 10-rebound double-double from Leslie.

The U.S. needed just 10 minutes to build a double-digit lead and went on to secure a 97-41 win against overmatched Mali on Aug. 13. Leslie, who scored a game-high 16 points, set a U.S. Olympic single-game record on 7-of-7 shooting from the field, surpassing Smith, who shot 6-of-6 from the field in 2000, and Nikki McCray, who shot 6-of-6 in 1996. Augustus added 12 points and three assists to the U.S. effort; and Parker, Pondexter and Thompson each scored 10 points; while Lawson dished out seven assists.

While the USA never trailed in the final three periods, Spain kept things close through the opening of the second half. However, the American women were simply too strong, collecting a 93-55 victory on Aug. 15 as Thompson led five U.S. players in double figures with 17 points and seven rebounds. Leslie recorded a 14-point, 11-rebound double-double; Parker tallied 13 points and five rebounds; Taurasi contributed 12 points and six rebounds; and Fowles scored 10 points.

Closing out preliminary round play on Aug. 17 against New Zealand, the USA women pounded their opponents 96-60 behind a team-best 15 points from Thompson. Smith added 13 points, Augustus tallied 12 and Catchings contributed 11 points.

Advancing to the quarterfinals, the U.S. again took a lead in the first quarter and never relinquished it. Led by 26 points and 14 rebounds from Fowles, the U.S. used its size and a monster 26-9 second quarter to wear down South Korea early to advance to the semifinals with a dominating 104-60 performance. Everybody scored for the USA in the win, including 12 points from Taurasi, 11 points from both Lawson and Pondexter, and 10 points from Leslie.

Meeting up with the team that knocked the U.S. out of the gold medal game at the 2006 FIBA World Championship, the United States would exact a measure of revenge in the Aug. 21 semifinal match. While the U.S. had to rally back from a 38-33 third quarter deficit, it eventually handed Russia a 67-52 loss and earned a spot in the gold medal game. Taurasi led all scorers with 21 points, including 5-of-8 from 3-point to set the U.S. Olympic game record for 3-point field goals made; while Thompson shot 3-of-4 from 3-point and tallied 15 points.

Advancing to the gold medal match-up everyone was anticipating since the start of the tournament, the 2008 U.S. Olympic Women's Basketball Team expanded its 22-15 first-quarter lead to 47-30 at the halftime buzzer. Never letting the score fall below double digits in the second half en route to a crushing 92-65 blowout of previously unbeaten Australia, the USA earned its fourth straight Olympic gold medal in style.

Kara Lawson led the way with 15 points off the bench on a flawless 5-of-5 shooting from the field and 4-of-4 accuracy from the foul line, followed by 14 points and seven rebounds from the 36-year-old Leslie. Parker also tallied 14 points and hit 4-of-4 from the floor, while Fowles added 13 points and five rebounds.

"I've put on this uniform since I was in the 11th grade and had the wonderful opportunity to represent my country on a junior national team and then finally worked my way up to the national team and then the World Championships and then the Olympics," said Leslie following the gold medal game. "To just have the opportunity to play with so many great players over my career, it's really hard to just think of all of these medals just getting them alone. I didn't do that. Teresa Edwards and Katrina McClain and Dawn Staley… I could name so many of my USA teammates that had a true impact on me and my progress as one of the younger players. As I over the years have now become the oldest player, I've just tried to do the exact same thing and giving back that information to Sylvia Fowles and Candace Parker to Cappie Pondexter. Even at the times when it wasn't going great for me as an individual, still staying positive and showing them that there are always ways to contribute and help out. So for USA Basketball, it's just been an honor to represent my country."

Since women's basketball was officially staged at the 1976 Olympics, the Americans have collected a record six gold medals, one silver and one bronze medal, and now own a 50-3 (.943) overall record in eight Olympic appearances (the United States chose not to participate in the 1980 Olympic Games).

The only other teams to break onto the gold medal podium in Olympic women's basketball competition were the former Soviet Union (1976, 1980) and the Unified Team (1992), which was comprised of members from the former USSR.

"I've been playing for USA Basketball since I was 16," said Pondexter, who has captured seven gold medals, one silver medal and one bronze medal since first donning USA Basketball uniform in 2000. "It's been a long time. I'm 25 now. It's been a long road. This is my first one and hopefully I can get more. I'm just happy for this team. We worked extremely hard, we played together--all 12 of us--and we stayed together, so now we won a gold medal together."

The deep USA Basketball team featured four players who averaged double-digit scoring and five more who averaged 6.4 points a game or more. Leading the way was Fowles, who came off the bench to pace the team in scoring (13.4 ppg.), rebounding (8.4 rpg.) and field goal percentage (.643 [minimum three made per game]). USA veterans Thompson (12.8 ppg.), Taurasi (10.9 ppg.) and Leslie (10.1 ppg.) also averaged in double digits for scoring, while Leslie finished as the team's second leading rebounder (7.0 rpg.) and top shot blocker (11). Additionally, Taurasi went a perfect 15-of-15 from the line during the tournament, Catchings led the team for field goal percentage (.724), Taurasi shot a sizzling 42.9 (12-28 3pt FGs) from 3-point range and Lawson passed out a team-high 3.0 apg.

As a team the U.S. ranked first among all 12 nations for scoring (94.2 ppg.), scoring defense (56.6 ppg.), scoring margin (+37.6 ppg.), field goal percentage (.542), defensive field goal percentage (.339), rebounding defense (30.4 rpg.), assists (18.25 apg.), turnover margin (+6.88), assist to turnover ratio (1.39) and defensive rebounds per game (29.38); while ranking second for 3-point field goal percentage (.400), defensive 3-point field goal percentage (.282), rebounding offense (43.0 rpg.), rebounding margin (+12.6 rpg.), blocked shots (3.88 bpg.) and steals (10.25 spg.).

Individually, with such a well-balanced squad the U.S. normally doesn't feature the tournament's top scorer or rebounder. However, Fowles finished ranked 11th for scoring and several of her teammates listed among the top 10 in various statistical categories. Fowles and Leslie ranked fifth and 10th, respectively, for rebounds. The USA placed four among the top 10 for field goal percentage, including top-ranked Fowles, Parker finished second (.614), Leslie in fourth (.576) and Thompson was 10th (.494). Lawson ranked fourth for assists; Bird and Catchings tied for seventh for steals (1.75 spg.); Lawson ranked first for 3-point field goal percentage (.571), while Taurasi was ninth (.429) in that category; Taurasi ranked ninth for 3-point field goals made per game (1.5); Leslie ranked second for blocked shots (1.38 bpg.), with Fowles ranked eighth (0.88 bpg.); and Lawson led the field for assist to turnover ratio (3.43).

The U.S. team, which qualified for the 2010 FIBA World Championship with its gold medal performance in Beijing, has had a history of passing the torch from one generation to the next, helping fortify the American women's talent and depth. It's been happening since the 1976 team claimed silver in Montreal and over the past dozen years fans have seen Edwards and McClain pass along their knowledge to the trio of Leslie, Staley and Sheryl Swoopes. They, in turn, have imparted their wisdom first to players like Milton-Jones, Smith and Thompson; and in 2004 Bird and Taurasi picked up the torch. This summer the world saw the emergence of numerous young stars who were eager to learn from the veterans and who should shine on the international stage for years to come.

-That's the thing, it's passing the torch," stated Taurasi. -Sue and I got to learn from Sheryl and Dawn (Staley) in 2004. Candace and Sylvia got to learn from Tina and Lisa. It's a beautiful thing when you can hand down those experiences and still be a part of it."

Nobody knows what the 2012 team will look like with players retiring and others rising up through the ranks. The only thing that's certain is that the U.S. will step onto the court in London with yet another amazing mix of experienced veterans and talented newcomers ready to extend the USA's Olympic streak to a mind-boggling five gold medals.


Seimone Augustus
Minnesota Lynx Louisiana State Baton Rouge, LA
Sue Bird
Seattle Storm Connecticut Syosset, NY
Tamika Catchings
Indiana Fever Tennessee Duncanville, TX
Sylvia Fowles
Chicago Sky Louisiana State Miami, FL
Kara Lawson
Sacramento Monarchs Tennessee Alexandria, VA
Lisa Leslie
Los Angeles Sparks Southern Cal Hawthorne, CA
DeLisha Milton-Jones
Los Angeles Sparks Florida Riceboro, GA
Candace Parker
Los Angeles Sparks Tennessee Naperville, IL
Cappie Pondexter
Phoenix Mercury Rutgers Chicago, IL
Katie Smith
Detroit Shock Ohio State Logan, OH
Diana Taurasi
Phoenix Mercury Connecticut Chino, CA
Tina Thompson
Houston Comets Southern Cal Los Angeles, CA
Head Coach: Anne Donovan, USA Basketball
Assistant Coach: Gail Goestenkors, University of Texas
Assistant Coach: Dawn Staley, University of South Carolina
Assistant Coach: Mike Thibault, Connecticut Sun
Team Physician: Sheldon Burns, Minnesota Lynx
Athletic Trainer: Ed Ryan, Colorado Springs, Colorado


Fowles 8/0 45- 70 .643 0- 0 .000 17- 25 .680 67/8.4 107/13.4 7 7 3
Thompson 8/8 38- 77 .494 9- 22 .409 17- 23 .739 31/3.9 102/12.8 12 1 5
Taurasi 8/8 30- 61 .492 12- 28 .429 15- 15 1.000 31/3.9 87/10.9 19 2 7
Leslie 8/8 38- 66 .576 0- 0 .000 5- 12 .417 56/7.0 81/10.1 4 11 9
Parker 8/0 27- 44 .614 0- 1 .000 21- 31 .677 36/4.5 75/9.4 6 4 7
Augustus 8/0 27- 58 .466 0- 1 .000 9- 11 .818 18/2.3 63/7.9 11 1 4
Lawson 8/0 21- 32 .656 8- 14 .571 6- 6 1.000 16/2.0 56/7.0 24 1 8
Catchings 8/0 21- 29 .724 5- 7 .714 7- 12 .583 35/4.4 54/6.8 14 4 14
Pondexter 8/0 22- 38 .579 4- 9 .444 3- 4 .750 7/0.9 51/6.4 17 0 5
Smith 8/8 16- 38 .421 4- 18 .222 3- 3 1.000 20/2.5 39/4.9 15 0 5
Bird 8/8 10- 31 .323 2- 10 .200 2- 4 .500 18/2.3 24/3.0 14 0 14
Milton-Jones 7/0 5- 9 .556 0- 0 .000 5- 7 .714 9/1.3 15/2.1 3 0 1
USA 8 300-553 .542 44-110 .400 110-153 .719 344/43.0 754/94.2 146 31 82
OPP 8 162-478 .339 40-142 .282 89-137 .650 243/30.4 453/56.6 81 10 44

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