2020 U.S. Olympic Women’s Basketball Team Unveiled
-- Experienced USA Squad Owns Combined 15 Olympic, 19 World Cup Gold Medals --
With just over four weeks to go before the 2020 Olympic Opening Ceremony, the 2020 U.S. Olympic Women’s Basketball Team was unveiled this morning in front of a nationally televised audience on NBC’s TODAY show and features two now five-time Olympians, one four-time Olympian, one three-time Olympian, two who will be competing in their second Olympics and six who will step on the Olympic court for the first time this summer.
Team selections for the six-time defending Olympic gold medalists USA were made by the USA Basketball Women’s National Team Player Selection Committee and pending approval by the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee.
Headlining the team are longtime USA National Team members Sue Bird (Seattle Storm) and Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury), who each donned a USA Basketball jersey for the first time in 2000 and own a combined eight Olympic and seven FIBA World Cup gold medals, and three-time Olympic gold medalist Sylvia Fowles (Minnesota Lynx), who also captured gold at the 2010 FIBA World Cup.
Expecting to play in a third Olympic Games is Tina Charles (Washington Mystics), a three-time World Cup gold medalist; while 2016 Olympic gold medalists Brittney Griner (Phoenix Mercury) and Breanna Stewart (Seattle Storm), each of whom have captured at two World Cup gold medals, return to chase a second Olympic gold in Tokyo.
Two athletes who are pursuing their first Olympic gold medal and who already own a FIBA World Cup gold medal are Jewell Loyd (Seattle Storm) and A’ja Wilson (Las Vegas Aces).
Stepping onto the world stage for the first time at a FIBA senior-level five-on-five competition will be Ariel Atkins (Washington Mystics), Napheesa Collier (Minnesota Lynx), Skylar Diggins-Smith (Phoenix Mercury) and Chelsea Gray (Las Vegas Aces).
“USA Basketball has never been in a better place,” said U.S. Olympic Team head coach Dawn Staley (South Carolina), who claimed three gold medals as an athlete and helped guide two more Olympic teams to gold as an assistant coach. “I’m honored to be the coach of such an amazing collection of talented women, both those named to the team and those who gave their all the last few years but won’t be with us in Tokyo. The fact that some of the players who won’t suit up this summer would start for any other country is a testament to their talent and to what USA Basketball has done to build a program that lifts up our female athletes every single day. I’m so proud to be the coach of Team USA and like all of the coaches, support staff, and our players, I can’t wait to make America proud this summer.”
“USA Basketball is proud to announce the athletes who have been selected to play on our USA Women’s National Team at the Tokyo Olympics,” said retired Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the USA Basketball Board of Directors. “These young women are elite athletes. Just as important, they are women of character who will represent our country on the world stage with honor, dignity, and respect on and off the court. They include women with many years of experience playing at the international level. Two of them, Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi, will compete to bring home their fifth consecutive gold medal, while Sylvia Fowles is attempting to claim a fourth-straight Olympic gold medal. We are fortunate indeed to have this group representing us.”
The XXXII Olympic Games women’s basketball competition will be held July 26-Aug. 8 at the Saitama Super Arena, Saitama, Japan.
Including their combined 15 Olympic and 19 FIBA World Cup gold medals, athletes named to the team collectively own 60 gold medals, three of which were in 3x3 competitions, one silver medal and three bronze medals with USA Basketball in all levels of official international competition. Further, they have compiled a combined record in a USA Basketball uniform, including exhibition games, of 749-37 (.953 winning percentage).
Additionally, the team includes four athletes who have been named USA Basketball Female Athlete of the Year a combined nine times. Taurasi leads the list with four (2006, 2010, 2012, 2016), Stewart earned it three times (2011, 2013, 2018) and Charles (2009) and Wilson (2015) also have earned the honor.
All 12 athletes took part in the 2019-20 USA Basketball National Team expanded training program which saw the USA post a 17-1 record, including 5-1 against NCAA Division I teams in exhibition games and 12-0 versus international teams in FIBA-sanctioned competitions.
With their fifth Olympics looming, Bird and Taurasi are poised to join an extremely elite club. Since 1936 when men’s basketball first was officially included on the Olympic program and 1976 when women’s basketball was first played in the Olympics, only six athletes worldwide have competed in five Olympic basketball competitions. In addition to the USA’s Teresa Edwards, who captured four gold medals and one bronze medal from 1984-2000, Spain’s Juan Carlos Navarro (2000-16, two silver medals and one bronze medal), Brazil’s Adriana Moisés Pinto (2000-16, one bronze medal) and Oscar Schmidt (1980-96), Australia’s Andrew Gaze (1984-2000) and Puerto Rico’s Teófilo Cruz (1960-76) round out the list.
Additionally, Fowles will join a short list of American basketball players who have competed in at least four Olympics. In addition to Bird, Edwards and Taurasi, USA Basketball four-time Olympians include Carmelo Anthony (2004-2016), Tamika Catchings (2004-2016) and Lisa Leslie (1996-2008).
Dan Hughes, Cheryl Reeve (Minnesota Lynx) and Jennifer Rizzotti (Connecticut Sun), who assisted the USA to a gold medal at the 2018 FIBA World Cup, are serving as 2020 U.S. Olympic Women’s Basketball Team assistant coaches.
Chaired by USA Women’s National Team director Carol Callan, the USA Basketball Women’s National Team Player Selection Committee includes three-time Olympic and two-time World Cup gold medalist Katie Smith as the athlete representative; WNBA representatives Bethany Donaphin, head of league operations, and Connecticut Sun head coach Curt Miller; and University of Connecticut head coach Geno Auriemma, who coached USA teams to gold medals at the past two Olympics and FIBA World Cups, serves as a special advisor.
2020 Olympic Women’s Basketball Competition
The American women will open Olympic preliminary round play on July 27 against 2019 FIBA Africa champion Nigeria at 12:40 a.m. (all game times listed are EDT), will face host and 2019 FIBA Asia gold medalist Japan on July 30 at 12:40 a.m., and will cap the first round with a contest against 2019 FIBA Europe silver medalist France on Aug. 2 at 12:30 a.m.
Teams will be seeded following the preliminary round, and the top two teams from each of the three groups 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. 4 quarterfinals to the Aug. 6 semifinals. The bronze medal game will be played on Aug. 7 (3:30 a.m.), and the gold medal game will be played on Aug. 8 (Aug. 7 at 10:30 p.m. EDT), on the morning of the 2020 closing ceremony.
The No. 1 team in the world, the USA captured the gold medal at the 2018 FIBA World Cup, which qualified the nation for the 2020 Olympic Games. Regardless, the USA would have earned a berth through the FIBA qualifying system after earning gold with a 6-0 mark at the 2019 FIBA AmeriCup in Puerto Rico, going 3-0 for first place at the 2019 FIBA Pre-Olympic Qualifying Tournament and claiming first with a 3-0 record at the 2020 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Serbia.
The USA, which owns an all-time record of 66-3 in Olympic play, enters the Tokyo Olympics riding a 49-game winning streak in Olympic competition, which began with the 1992 bronze medal game and includes a record six-straight gold medals.
In 2016, the most recent Olympic Games, the U.S. took the gold medal, while Spain captured silver and Serbia won bronze.