USA Women’s National Team Weekly Update: 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Staff Finalized
Two 2014-16 USA Basketball National Team members currently are competing in China, 11 are in the EuroLeague, three are on teams that competed in the EuroCup, one is in Australia, two began the season in South Korea and two are still in college. The remaining athletes are staying in the United States during the WNBA off-season. Additionally, three of the four members of the USA National Team coaching staff are coaching collegiate teams.
Every Thursday throughout the 2014-15 season, USA Basketball will report on the progress of the athletes competing overseas and in NCAA action here in the United States.
Below are recaps (in order) from the NCAA, China, EuroCup, EuroLeague, Australia and South Korea. Check back weekly to see how each player is progressing through the season.
This past week USA Basketball announced that the same assistant coaching staff that aided USA head coach Geno Auriemma and the 2014 USA World Championship Team to gold would return as USA National Team assistants through 2016. This will mark the second Olympic assistant coach assignment for both DePaul University head coach Doug Bruno and University of South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley. Bruno was an assistant coach to the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team and Staley, a three-time Olympic gold medalist as an athlete, served as an assistant coach to the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team. The 2016 Games will be Minnesota Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve’s first time on an Olympic staff.
No. 1 vs. No. 2 Showdown
A few hours after the USA National Team assistant coaches announcement, Auriemma and Staley squared off against each other in a showdown of No. 1 USC versus No. 2 Connecticut, with Auriemma’s Huskies coming out with a 87-62 victory to claim the No. 1 ranking. South Carolina dropped to 22-1, while Connecticut upped its record to 23-1. Both teams are undefeated in conference play.
There are two collegiate athletes on the USA National Team roster, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Breanna Stewart, both of whom came up big for the Huskies in their game against USC. Mosqueda-Lews shot 5-of-6 from 3-point and finished with 23 points, four assists and four steals; while Stewart went 8-of-11 from the line and scored 22 points and added eight rebounds and five blocked shots.
DePaul on a Roll
Bruno has coached the DePaul Blue Demons to a 19-6 overall record, including an 11-2 mark in Big East Conference play. Further, DePaul is on a six-game winning streak.
CHINA: Finals Pit Griner & Moore in Clash for Title
Four USA National Team members started the season in China -- Candice Dupree, Sylvia Fowles, Brittney Griner and Maya Moore -- but only two remain. Dupree’s team did not advance to the second round and has since moved to Russia to compete for Nadezhda Orenburg. Fowles made it to the quarterfinals, but was ousted last week. Remaining in the title hunt are Griner and two-time defending champion Moore. The first game of the WCBA Finals will be contested on Feb. 26.
Final Pairings Set
After both Griner’s Beijing team and Moore’s Shanxi squad split their first two in the best-of-five semifinals series, they finished off their opponents by winning last week’s two contests to close their respective series in four games. Bejing downed Jiangsu 87-74 on Feb. 7 and took a 72-59 victory on Feb. 10 to advance to the finals, while Shanxi earned a dominating 78-50 win over Bayi in the third game and closed out the semifinal series by defeating Bayi 81-66.
The teams faced each other six times over the course of the season and Shanxi holds a 4-2 edge in those games. Four contests were decided by eight points or fewer, while Shanxi got a 12-point win and Beijing took a 22-point win, both of which were early in the season. Expect it to be a battle to the end.
EUROCUP: Concluded for USA National Team Athletes
The EuroCup was comprised of seven first round groups of four teams and one group of three. Following a double round-robin (home and away) in each group, the top two finishing teams were seeded and advanced to the knockout stages, beginning with round of 16 and continuing through the finals. The EuroCup first round is complete and the round of 16 games were played Jan. 15 and 22. The quarterfinals were Feb. 4-5 and 11-12, semifinals will be played Feb. 26 and March 5, while the finals will be contested March 19 and 26. Three USA National Team athletes competed in the EuroCup this season and after last week, none remain in the title hunt.
Each playoff round consists of a home and away game, with the aggregate score between each pair of teams determining the winner for advancement to the next round. The champion will have an opportunity to contend as a wildcard entry to the 2015-16 EuroLeague competition.
Dolson and Spartak Moscow Region (6-2) are out of the playoffs, having been dropped in the round of 16. However, while its EuroCup campaign has come to an end for this year, Spartak is still very much alive in the Russian League. The club is 9-5 and sitting in fourth place behind undefeated UMMC Ekaterinburg (13-0), Nadezhda Orenburg (11-2) and Dynamo Kursk (10-3). Dolson is averaging 10.7 ppg. and 4.2 rpg. in the 11 Russia League games in which she has competed.
Bria Hartley and Kayla McBride:
After starting the year with a perfect 8-0 record, Hartley, McBride and Hungary’s UE Sopron (8-2) were handed their first two EuroCup losses of the season by Maccabi Bnot Ashdod (9-1) in the EuroCup quarterfinals, 87-60 and 78-77, and bow out of EuroCup competition. However, they are still competing in the Hungarian league and lead the country with a 14-1 record, ahead of Györ (11-4) and Pésci (11-4).
In EuroCup action, McBride averaged a team-high of 17.1 ppg. to go with 6.2 rpg., while Hartley contributed 12.0 ppg., 4.1 rpg. and 3.2 apg.
EUROLEAGUE WEEK 13
Bye Week: Galatasaray (4-7)
Jantel Lavender and Courtney Vandersloot helped power Wisla Can-Pack (5-6) to a much-needed 76-70 victory over BLMA (4-6), keeping the team’s playoff hopes alive. Lavender was the game’s leading scorer and finished with 22 to go with five boards; while Vandersloot contributed 11 points, six rebounds and game-highs of six assists and three steals. After trailing 21-13 in the first quarter, Wisla outscored BLMA 26-13 in the second and held on in the second half for the win.
Candace Parker and Diana Taurasi aided UMMC Ekaterinburg (10-1) to an easy 75-52 win over Good Angels Kosice (2-10), knocking Good Angels out of playoff contention. Taurasi tossed in 15 points and dished out six assists, while Parker scored 14 and grabbed nine boards.
Behind 19 points, nine rebounds and five assists from Nnemkadi Ogwumike and 13 points from Seimone Augustus, Dynamo Kursk (9-2) eked out an 87-85 victory over Danielle Robinson and ZVVZ USK Prague (5-6).
Averaging 20.5 ppg. and 11.6 rpg., Ogwumike has a league-leading nine double-doubles in 11 games.
With one week remaining in EuroLeague play, the advancing teams from Group B have been finalized and include Fenerbahce, CB Avenida, Nadezhda and Bourges Basket.
Lindsay Whalen had 10 points, five boards and three assists, but it wasn’t enough to help propel Agü Spor (6-7) to victory as DeWanna Bonner notched 20 points and eight rebounds and Candice Dupree had 13 points and six rebounds to lead Nadezhda (9-4) to a 71-64 win and into the playoffs. Nadezhda’s victory also shattered Agü Spor’s playoff hopes. Whalen will now look to aid her team to a Turkish League playoff run.
Fenerbahce (11-2) bounced back from its loss last week and fought to the end for a 68-63 victory over Beretta Famila Schio (5-8). Battling for their playoff lives, the Beretta athletes gained a 38-23 halftime advantage and still led 50-41 heading into the final stanza. However, Fener doesn’t often lose on its home floor and fought back in the fourth quarter, drawing ahead for good, 64-63, with 55 seconds to play. Fener held on for the win. Tina Charles was held to nine points on 2-of-10 shooting from the field and grabbed seven rebounds. Angel McCoughtry, who averaged 15.3 points and 6.1 rebounds for Fener through its first 12 games, is no longer on the team’s roster.
EuroLeague Stats Leaders
Points: 1. Ogwumike (20.5 ppg.); 2. Lavender (17.2 ppg.); 3. Taurasi (17.1 ppg.); 4. Bonner (16.8 ppg.); 5. Charles (16.3 ppg.); 8. Parker (15.1 ppg.); 17. Augustus (12.7 ppg.).
Rebounds: 1. Ogwumike (11.6 rpg.); 4. Parker (10.0 rpg.); 6. Lavender (9.8 rpg.); 16. Charles (7.4 rpg.); 17. Bonner (7.0 rpg.).
Assists: 2. Taurasi (6.4 apg.), 6. Vandersloot (4.5 apg.).
2014-15 EuroLeague Standings
|3.||ZVVZ USK Praha||5-6|
|4.||Wisla Can-Pack Krakow||5-6|
|7.||Good Angels Kosice||2-10|
|2.||Club Baloncesto Avenida||10-3|
|3.||Nadezhda Orenburg Region||9-4|
|4.||Tango Bourges Basket||8-5|
|5.||Agü Spor Kulübü||6-7|
|6.||Beretta Famila Schio||5-8|
|8.||BK IMOS Brno||0-13|
After starting the season 2-6, Cappie Pondexter and the Dandedong Rangers (12-8) saw their eight-game winning streak end last week after being handed an 88-76 loss by Melbourne (10-10). Pondexter had 17 points and four assists in the loss. Despite the loss, the Rangers, who close out the season against Adelaide (6-15) on Feb. 13 and Townsville (16-4) on Feb. 15, are in good position for a playoff run.
Playing alongside former Phoenix Mercury teammate Penny Taylor, Pondexter is averaging 16.4 points and a league fifth-best 4.3 assists a game. Taylor is putting up a league-best 21.3 ppg., as well as 6.7 rpg. and 3.9 apg.
Odyssey Sims and Alyssa Thomas suit up for Hanabank, which is currently 9-21 through its first 30 games of the 37-round season. The team captured a pair of victories last week, taking down Winnus (5-25) 88-67, behind 31 points and 12 rebounds from Thomas, and KB Stars (19-12) 79-59, which saw Thomas score 16 points and Sims score 11.
Thomas is averaging league-leading 19.1 ppg. and 10.5 rpg. to go with a third-best 3.8 apg. and seventh-best 1.3 spg. Sims is contributing 11.4 ppg. and 2.3 apg.