2014 USA Basketball World Championship Team Roster Finalized
-- Sue Bird Becomes First U.S. Player On Four USA World Championship Teams --
Prague, Czech Republic
Headlined by USA Basketball’s first four-time USA World Championship Team member Sue Bird (Seattle Storm), the 12-member 2014 USA World Championship Team was finalized on Sept. 23 in Prague, Czech Republic. The U.S. squad, which posted a 4-1 record in exhibition games and began training camp on Sept. 8, will travel to Turkey in the morning for the 2014 FIBA World Championship, which will be heldSept. 27-Oct. 5 in Ankara and Istanbul. The team was selected by the USA Basketball Women’s National Team Player Selection Committee, chaired by USA Basketball women’s national team director Carol Callan.
Including Bird, who won gold in 2002 and 2010 and a bronze medal in 2006, named to the 2014 USA World Championship Team were: three-time USA World Championship Team member Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury), a member of the 2006 and 2010 U.S. teams; 2010 USA World Championship Team gold medalists Tina Charles (New York Liberty), Candice Dupree (Phoenix Mercury), Angel McCoughtry(Atlanta Dream), Maya Moore (Minnesota Lynx) and Lindsay Whalen (Minnesota Lynx); 2006 bronze medalist Seimone Augustus(Minnesota Lynx); as well as Brittney Griner (Phoenix Mercury), Nnemkadi Ogwumike (Los Angeles Sparks), Odyssey Sims (Tulsa Shock) and Breanna Stewart (University of Connecticut), who will be competing in their first FIBA World Championship.
Further, seven of the eight members of the squad with prior FIBA World Championship appearances are Olympic gold medalists. Bird and Taurasi have won three Olympic gold medals; Augustus won Olympic gold in 2008 and 2012; while Charles, McCoughtry Moore and Whalen earned Olympic gold at the 2012 London Olympic Games.
“When you get down to the final 12-member team, you appreciate everything that all of the pool players have contributed to where we are today,” said Callan. “They all have worked hard and pushed the team during training camp to be at their very best. So, for that we are grateful, and we know that we have a great future as well. It is now exciting to have the team selected, and the committee feels that this team will compete to the standard set by previous USA Basketball World Championship Teams.”
“I think anytime a team is selected, you are always excited about who was picked and disappointed for those who weren’t picked,” said USA head coach Geno Auriemma (University of Connecticut). “We knew it was going to be difficult. We are missing so many veterans from previous World Championships and the Olympics, so it was a great opportunity for some younger players for some new faces to be added. I think they’ve done a great job. I think from what I can see, we’ve got a little bit of everything. We still have, obviously, some things that we have to work on. Brittney (Griner) is going to get here, and this will be her first time through this. Odyssey’s (Sims) first time. Breanna’s (Stewart) first time. Nneka’s (Ogwumike) first time. That’s a lot of new faces. I know our coaching staff has our work cut out for us, and we are excited to finally get the team together and get started.
“I think it’s a testament to Sue,” he added on Bird’s longevity with the USA National Team. “That’s a period of 12 years. She played right after graduating college. It is amazing that her level of play has been that consistent for that many years at a position that is not easy to play. That’s kind of who she is. She is very steady, very even keeled, unbelievable talented and wins. The players trust her, and they have confidence in her. And the coaches I think feel the same way. She’s like having a coach on the floor. We throw it out there like, ‘Wow, you’re a four-time USA World Championship Team member.’ If it were that easy, it would have been done lots of times before this. She’s accomplished something that’s very rare, and she should be very proud of herself.”
The USA National Team defeated Canada 76-51 in Bridgeport, Connecticut, then went 2-1 in the 2014 France International Tournament in Paris after taking down Australia (1-2) 72-66 on Sept. 19 and China (1-2) 99-75 on Sept. 20, before falling to host France (2-1) 76-72 on Sept. 21. In its final exhibition game, the U.S. defeated host Czech Republic in Prague 76-41 earlier tonight.
“I think you saw some of our style of play in the second half today,” added Auriemma on what he sees as the key to this team. “We want to get up and down the floor quickly, take advantage of our depth and take advantage of our athletic ability in a lot of ways. I think that’s the style that they players want to play, and it suits them and it suits me just fine. We also know that you can’t just be like that. You also have to be a really good half court team. But I think our transition game is probably going to be our style. Defensively, creating offense and keeping the pace quick enough that we can use our depth.”
Auriemma is being assisted on the sideline by DePaul University head coach Doug Bruno, Minnesota Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve and University of South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley; while University of Hartford head coach Jennifer Rizzotti serves as an advance scout and court coach for the 2014 USA squad.
The USA owns a record eight gold medals, one silver medal and two bronze medals in FIBA World Championship play, while compiling an all-time 97-21 record at the event. In 2010, the most recent World Championship, the U.S. finished with a perfect 9-0 record and the gold medal.
The USA Basketball Women’s National Team Player Selection Committee is charged with the selection of the 2014 USA World Championship Team and in addition to Callan, the selection committee includes: WNBA appointees Reneé Brown, WNBA chief of basketball operations and player relations, Dan Hughes, San Antonio Silver Stars head coach and general manager, and Chris Sienko, Connecticut Sun vice president and general manager; and three-time Olympic and two-time FIBA World Championship gold medalist Katie Smith, who played in nearly 200 games for USA Basketball from 1993-2008, and serves as the athlete representative.