USA Basketball Women’s National Team to Play Connecticut, Louisville in 2020
The USA Basketball Women’s National Team, which is in pursuit of a seventh consecutive Olympic gold medal, has added exhibition games to its schedule against a pair of top 10 programs and will face the University of Connecticut on Jan. 27 and University of Louisville on Feb. 2.
The U.S. squad, headlined by four-time Olympic gold medalists Sue Bird (Seattle Storm) and Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury), could add one additional NCAA game to its schedule, to be announced at a later date.
Ticket information for each game can be found at USAB.com/tickets.
“Anytime that we can schedule an organized competition is always going to be good for building chemistry,” said USA National Team head coach Dawn Staley. “Allowing some of our younger players to play with our more experienced players is always going to help us.
“Playing UConn, playing in front of their crowd and knowing that Geno has so much experience internationally, to see him pick us apart a little bit will allow us to grow.
“Louisville's athletic and they get up and down the floor, so they mirror some of the international players. For Sue, Diana, A'ja and the other players, they’re looking forward to playing a challenging schedule. They look forward to playing together and hopefully winning together.
“It’s great for the college teams also. They get to play against Sue and Diana, who have probably played longer than these college players have been alive. But, they get a chance to experience what the next level feels like. And if they take a closer look at how our USA Basketball team operates - they're full of communication, they really understand how to play the game, so it's just our entire women's basketball sport is growing because our older players are teaching our younger players through playing.”
As part of its expanded women’s national team program, USA Basketball has secured commitments from eight elite athletes from the 2019-20 USA National Team pool to participate in the team’s five training segments that will take place between November 2019 and April 2020. In addition to Bird and Taurasi, those eight include Elena Delle Donne (Washington Mystics/Delaware), Skylar Diggins-Smith (Dallas Wings/Notre Dame), Sylvia Fowles (Minnesota Lynx/Louisiana State), Chelsea Gray (Los Angeles Sparks/Duke), Nneka Ogwumike (Los Angeles Sparks/Stanford) and A’ja Wilson (Las Vegas Aces/South Carolina).
It is anticipated that these eight athletes will compete in the Connecticut and Louisville games, with the remaining four roster spots to come from the 2019-20 USA Basketball Women’s National Team pool, which currently includes 36 athletes after the recent additions of Jordin Canada (Seattle Storm/UCLA) and Arike Ogunbowale (Dallas Wings/Notre Dame).
The game against the Huskies will mark the third time a USA National Team has played a Connecticut squad and the first USA versus Louisville match-up. Previously the 1995-96 USA National Team downed UConn 83-47 behind 20 points from eventual Hall of Famer Lisa Leslie, while Leslie scored a game-high 19 points in a 90-74 USA victory in November 2007.
The USA recently tipped-off its 2019 fall schedule and has earned a pair of victories, 95-80 against Stanford University on Nov. 2 and 81-58 over Oregon State University on Nov. 4. The USA’s final two domestic exhibitions ahead of the Nov. 14-18 FIBA Americas Pre-Olympic Qualifying Tournament will be at Texas A&M University on Nov. 7 and University of Oregon on Nov. 9.
Following competition of its November NCAA tour, the USA will participate in the FIBA Americas Pre-Olympic Qualifying Tournament. The USA, joined by Argentina, Brazil and Colombia, will play in Bahía Blanca, Argentina. FIBA Americas Pre-Olympic Qualifying Tournament Group A, which includes Canada, Cuba, Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, will play in Edmonton, Canada. The top two teams from each of those groups will qualify to play in one of the 2020 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournaments (sites TBD), Feb. 2-10.
Dan Hughes (Seattle Storm), Cheryl Reeve (Minnesota Lynx) and Jennifer Rizzotti (George Washington), who assisted the USA to a gold medal at the 2018 FIBA World Cup and the 2019 FIBA AmeriCup, are serving as the 2019-20 USA National Team assistant coaches.
Staley and Rizzotti, due to commitments to their collegiate teams, will not be available for most of the USA’s two announced training camps, and Hughes and Reeve will serve as co-coaches.
Past USA Basketball teams ahead of the 1996, 2000 and 2008 Olympic Games competed against collegiate teams, and over the course of those three tours, the USA earned a 39-1 record competing against a combined total of 30 different NCAA Division I teams.
The USA National Team, which already has qualified for the 2020 Olympics, is taking advantage of and participating in FIBA’s new Olympic qualification process, which began with the recently concluded FIBA AmeriCup, where the U.S. finished 6-0 and captured gold on Sept. 29 in Puerto Rico. The top eight finishing teams in the AmeriCup qualified for the FIBA Americas Pre-Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
Olympic Games Women’s Basketball Competition
Winners of the past six Olympic gold medals, the USA owns a record eight gold medals, one silver medal and one bronze medal, while compiling an all-time 66-3 record in Olympic play since women’s basketball was first introduced to the Olympic program in 1976.
In 2016, the most recent Olympic Games, the U.S. took the gold medal, while Spain captured silver and Serbia won bronze.
The USA, by virtue of winning the gold medal at the 2018 FIBA World Cup, and host Japan already have secured berths into the 2020 tournament. The remaining 10 teams will qualify through the 2020 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournaments.
The 2020 Olympic competition will see a different tournament format launched in 2020. The 12 teams will be split into three groups of four teams apiece for preliminary play, held July 27-Aug. 3.
Following the preliminary round, teams will be seeded, and the top two teams from each group and the two best third place teams, according to FIBA’s placement rules, will qualify for the medal round. In the medal round, teams will compete in a knockout bracket, with winners advancing from the Aug. 5 quarterfinals to the Aug. 7 semifinals. The gold medal game will be played on Aug. 9, on the morning of the 2020 closing ceremony.