2006 USA Basketball Women's Senior National Team's First European Tour Roster Stocked With Talent
Headlined by five Olympic
gold medalists, including Sue
Bird (Seattle Storm), Swin
Cash (Detroit Shock), DeLisha
Milton-Jones (Washington Mystics); Katie
Smith (Detroit Shock) and Diana
Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury), USA Basketball will head to Europe
with a talent-laden roster to begin the first portion of its training
and player evaluations for the team that will eventually represent the
United States at the 2006 FIBA World Championship. The U.S. will play
three games against top EuroLeague teams, beginning with a contest in
Sopron, Hungary, on March 6 and concluding with a pair of contests in
Gdynia, Poland, March 8 and March 9. The final 12-member USA World Championship
Team will be named later this summer.
"Our Olympic and World Championship veterans will lead the way in our first segment of training," said USA Women's Senior National Team Program head coach Anne Donovan of the Seattle Storm. "I will rely heavily on Katie, Sue, DeLisha, Swin and Diana, all of whom already know the quality of competition that we will face in the World Championships. Their ability to guide and lead our roster will be instrumental in our training for gold."
Two-time (2000, 2004) Olympic gold medalist Smith has also won a pair (1998, 2002) of FIBA World Championship golds, playing alongside 2000 Olympic gold medalist Milton-Jones. Bird, Cash and Taurasi made their Olympic debut with the gold medalist 2004 USA squad, and Bird was also a member of the gold medal 2002 USA World Championship Team.
Arriving in Sopron on March 2, the U.S. will train from 4:00-7:00 p.m. (all times local, +6 hours from EST) that evening. The squad will practice on March 3, 4 and 5 from 10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. before taking on MKB Euroleasing Sopron on March 6 (time TBD). Sopron, which advanced to the 2006 EuroLeague quarterfinals, features American Nikki Teasley (Los Angeles Sparks) on its roster.
After arriving in Gdynia on March 7, the USA will practice that evening (time TBD) before tipping-off against Lotos Gdynia on March 8 and March 9 (times TBD). Advancing to the EuroLeague playoffs for the fifth consecutive year, Lotos' roster contains a pair of Yanks, 2005 WNBA Rookie of the Year Temeka Johnson (Washington Mystics) and Chelsea Newton (Chicago Sky), who as a rookie won the 2005 WNBA title as a member of the Monarchs.
The March games mark the second time the U.S. has faced Lotos. On March 21, 2004, the USA Senior National Team bested Lotos 86-64 behind 21 points from 2004 Olympic gold medalist Tina Thompson (Houston Comets), while Tangela Smith (Sacramento Monarchs) was the team's high rebounder (7) and Sue Bird (Seattle Storm) led in assists (5).
USA Basketball Women's Senior National Team
The USA Basketball Women's Senior National Team Committee, chaired by Reneé Brown, the WNBA's Chief of Basketball Operations and Player Relations, will invite a select number of elite players to participate in the different camps of the 2006 spring training. The players invited to participate will be announced prior to each training camp. The spring training will give the coaching staff and USA Basketball Women's Senior National Team Committee a chance to evaluate a variety of candidates competing for the 12 roster positions on the 2006 USA World Championship Team. The Committee will also use a portion of the WNBA season to further evaluate players.
Following the 2006 WNBA season, the USA will regroup in late August for a final training camp before defending its World Championship title at the 15th FIBA World Championship, scheduled to be played Sept. 12-23 in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Donovan will be assisted at the 2006 FIBA World Championship by WNBA Connecticut Sun head coach Mike Thibault, and collegiate head coaches Gail Goestenkors of Duke University (N.C.) and Dawn Staley of Temple University (Pa.).
FIBA World Championship
The World Championship has been contested essentially every four years since 1953. The United States captured the first two gold medals before the beginning of the Soviet domination of women's basketball at the 1959 World Championship. The former USSR put together a string of five straight golds (1959, 1964, 1967, 1971, 1975), before the United States reclaimed gold in 1979. The Soviet Union in 1983 earned its final World Championship crown as the USA went on to capture four of the next five World Championships (1986, 1990, 1998, 2002). The only other nation to break into the gold medal column at this event is Brazil, which defeated the USA in the 1994 semifinals and went on to take the top spot that year.
FIBA conducted on Jan. 31 the official draw to determine the four preliminary round groupings for the 2006 FIBA World Championship, and the United States was placed in Group C along with China, Nigeria and Russia. Preliminary round games are scheduled for Sept. 12-14, and the top three teams from each of the four preliminary round groups will advance to the second round for the right to advance to the medal round quarterfinals. Placed in Group A were Argentina, host Brazil, South Korea and Spain; Group B includes Australia, Canada, Lithuania and Senegal; and Group D consists of Cuba, Czech Republic, France and Chinese Taipei.
The 15th FIBA World Championship format will feature a round-robin competition in preliminary round play. The top three teams from each preliminary group advance to form two second round groups consisting of six teams each. Each team's results from its preliminary group carries over to the second round standings, and each team will play the other three teams in the second round group whom they have not faced previously. The top four teams from those two groups will advance to the medal round quarterfinals. The gold and bronze medal games will be played Sept. 23.
2006 will mark Brazil's fourth time hosting the FIBA World Championship: Rio de Janeiro played host in 1957, and Sao Paulo was the site for the 1971 and 1983 Worlds. In all, the United States had mixed success when playing a World Championship in Brazil. The 1957 squad took home the gold with an 8-1 slate, in 1971 the U.S. finished in eighth place with a 6-2 record and in 1983 the USA squad again went 6-2, but returned with the silver medal.