Three Athletes Added for Upcoming USA Women’s National Team Competitions
-- Katie Lou Samuelson to Play All Five Games, Ariel Atkins and Tiffany Mitchell Will Join for Serbia Contests --
Three athletes with previous USA Basketball experience have been added to the USA Women’s National Team rosters for at least a portion of the two collegiate exhibitions and three FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament contests. 2019 FIBA AmeriCup gold medalist Katie Lou Samuelson (Chicago Sky) will return to play her alma mater when the USA faces University of Connecticut on Jan. 27 at 7 p.m. on ESPN2 and against the University of Louisville on Feb. 2 at 2 p.m. on ESPN. Additionally, Samuelson, 2019 WNBA champion Ariel Atkins (Washington Mystics/Texas) and 2018 USA World Cup Team finalist Tiffany Mitchell (Indiana Fever/South Carolina) will compete in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Belgrade, Serbia, from Feb. 6-9.
Diamond DeShields (Chicago Sky/Tennessee) and Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury/Connecticut), who originally were announced to compete in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament, are unable to compete and will not join the U.S. squad in Europe.
The roster for the two collegiate games is rounded out by Sue Bird (Seattle Storm/Connecticut), Tina Charles (New York Liberty/Connecticut), Layshia Clarendon (Connecticut Sun/California), Skylar Diggins-Smith (Dallas Wings/Notre Dame), Sylvia Fowles (Minnesota Lynx/Louisiana State), Chelsea Gray (Los Angeles Sparks/Duke), Kayla McBride (Las Vegas Aces/Notre Dame), Angel McCoughtry (Atlanta Dream/Louisville), Nneka Ogwumike (Los Angeles Sparks/Stanford), Kelsey Plum (Las Vegas Aces/Washington), Breanna Stewart (Seattle Storm/Connecticut), Taurasi and A’ja Wilson (Las Vegas Aces/South Carolina).
Charles is available only for the Connecticut game, and McCoughtry is available only for the Louisville contest.
Tickets for both games can be found at usab.com/tickets.
Following the exhibitions at Connecticut and Louisville, the USA will continue preparations in its quest for a seventh-straight Olympic gold medal as participants in the 2020 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
The U.S. was drawn into the Belgrade, Serbia, group and will face host Serbia on Feb. 6, followed by Mozambique on Feb. 8 and Nigeria on Feb. 9. The top two finishing teams, aside from the Americans who have already earned a spot in the 2020 Olympic women’s basketball field, will earn an Olympic berth. All three FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament will be broadcast on ESPN+.
Competing in the games in Serbia will be: Atkins, Bird, Diggins-Smith, Fowles, Gray, Brittney Griner (Phoenix Mercury/Baylor), Jewell Loyd (Seattle Storm/Notre Dame), Mitchell, Ogwumike, Samuelson, Stewart and Wilson.
Mitchell and Samuelson are members of the 2020 USA National Team pool, while Atkins is joining the team in hopes of being added to the pool at a later date.
Dawn Staley (South Carolina) is the head coach of the 2020 USA National Team.
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, due to commitments to her collegiate team, will not be available for the January and February training and competitions. Hughes and Reeve will serve as co-coaches for the above-listed competitions, and Rizzotti is able to join the USA bench for the contest at Connecticut before rejoining her GW squad.
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. That process began with the 2019 FIBA AmeriCup, where the U.S. finished 6-0 and captured gold on Sept. 29 in Puerto Rico and continued with the Nov. 14-17 FIBA Americas Pre-Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Argentina, where the USA posted a 3-0 record. Between the two FIBA events, the USA earned a 3-1 slate in exhibition games against college teams from Nov. 2-9, and heads into its game against Connecticut with a 12-1 overall mark.
The final FIBA segment is the February competition in which a total of 16 teams will compete in the four Olympic Qualifying Tournaments held in China, Belgium, France and Serbia. 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 four tournaments.
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.
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 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.