The USA Basketball Women’s National Team’s next two games against collegiate opponents, Jan. 27 at the University of Connecticut at 7 p.m. EST on ESPN2 and Feb. 2 at the University of Louisville at 2 p.m. EST on ESPN, will mark a homecoming for five athletes who will play against their former college teams.
Returning to play against UConn will be former Husky All-Americans Sue Bird (Seattle Storm), Tina Charles (New York Liberty), Breanna Stewart (Seattle Storm) and Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury); and Angel McCoughtry (Atlanta Dream), an All-American while playing for Louisville, will suit up against her former team. Bird, Stewart and Taurasi will compete in both games, while Charles is available only for the Connecticut game and McCoughtry is available only for the Louisville contest.
Fans at both games will be treated to an all-star line-up as the roster for both collegiate match-ups will be rounded out by: 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), Nneka Ogwumike (Los Angeles Sparks/Stanford), Kelsey Plum (Las Vegas Aces/Washington) and A’ja Wilson (Las Vegas Aces/South Carolina).
Tickets for both games are on sale now and ticketing information can be found at usab.com/tickets.
“We are grateful to both the University of Connecticut and the University of Louisville for hosting our national team in a pair of significant games prior to the FIBA Olympic Qualifying games in Serbia,” said Carol Callan, USA Basketball Women’s National Team director and chair of the USA National Team Player Selection Committee. “We know that they both will give us an incredibly high level of competition, and their fans will have a great opportunity to see our team, including their alums, as well as watching a glimpse of what they can expect to see in Tokyo. We’re looking forward to a great environment, similar to what we had in all four of our games in November, and want to thank the fans in advance for coming to the games.”
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, Feb. 6-9.
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.
Competing in the games in Serbia will be: Bird, Diamond DeShields (Chicago Sky/Tennessee), Diggins-Smith, Fowles, Gray, Brittney Griner (Phoenix Mercury/Baylor), Jewell Loyd (Seattle Storm/Notre Dame), Ogwumike, Stewart, Taurasi and Wilson.
“We’re excited to compete in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Belgrade,” added Callan. “The new competition system gives us opportunities to play against quality international teams in order for our team to continue in its preparation for Tokyo. The committee’s intention is to get a look at as many of the athletes in our pool as possible, and this gives us another chance to see more players in action.”
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.
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 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.
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.