The USA Basketball women’s national team is beginning its training camp Monday in Annapolis, Maryland. And here’s your chance to talk about who will eventually make the 12-man roster for the FIBA World Championships in Turkey.
On Monday, the USA Basketball women’s national team will begin its training camp at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. 17 players who are not playing in the WNBA Finals will be part of the camp.
The United States produces more top talent in basketball than any other country in the world. The WNBA is considered to be the best women’s professional basketball league in the world, and the vast majority of its players are Americans.
Regardless of what the final FIBA World Championship team looks like, Team USA will be the most talented one on the court. Still, it won’t hurt because of the 24 total players on the roster, eight played on the 2012 Olympic team, eight were on the 2010 World Championship team, and four were on the 2008 Olympic team.
Three players: Sue Bird, Sylvia Fowles, and Diana Taurasi were on all three of those aforementioned teams. Furthermore, they are still playing at a high enough level to contribute to international play.
Even though there are a good number of players from previous teams, they aren’t getting any younger for the 2016 Olympics. Therefore, change with the national team roster is going to happen sooner rather than later.
The USA Basketball men’s national team has went with youth movements for the 2010 World Championships and 2014 World Cup teams for multiple reasons. First, it expands the pool of candidates for future Olympic teams. Second, it’s because NBA basketball players make millions of dollars and want to avoid injuries during the summers when these tournaments take place.
We don’t see that most of the best American women’s basketball players resting during the World Championship years and just wait for the Olympics. They often feel a bigger obligation to do it than their male counterparts. Don’t take my word for it though. Sue Bird explains why here:
It’s difficult to answer that question because for a really long time that hasn’t been the scenario. For people my age — and the answer might be something different for somebody younger — overseas always existed but there wasn’t professional basketball in the U.S. So the national team has always been on this pedestal for people in my generation. It’s always been an honor to play and that was what you were striving for to make the team and represent your country. It always was the end game.
I still think for me personally it would be hard to say no.
Bird’s perspective could partly explain why eight out of 12 players from the London team are coming back for spots on this team. Those players will also face plenty of competition.
There are a number of younger stars who have yet to have an opportunity to be on the national team. This includes the “Big Three” of the 2013 rookie class. You’d think that at least some of them will make this team. Then, players from the 2014 rookie class like Chiney Ogwumike, Odyssey Sims, and Kayla McBride deserve a chance to make this team if they show it in camp.
And while you may be thinking that I’m the only one who wants the national team to be young, Team USA / UConn head coach Geno Auriemma likes Breanna Stewart’s chances to make this team too according to John Altavilla of the Hartford Courant:
If someone asked you to pick out the college player among the professionals, you would not have been able to say it was Breanna. Now, is she going to make the team? That remains to be seen. But is she comfortable competing and being successful against those players? Absolutely.
She has a lot to improve on, don’t get me wrong, but I would venture to say that players like Breanna, Elena Delle Donne and Brittney Griner, if you try to project into the future, are three of the players who may be next in line when we talk about those who could win three or four gold medals.
Given that there are a number of really talented young players on the training camp roster, that also will make things hard for Carol Callan, the women’s national team’s director and selection committee member. Here’s what she said in the aforementioned Hartford Courant article:
I wake up at night sometimes thinking of this. We have so many players who have devoted years to the program. And you have to tell them we aren’t going to take you this time?
So far, I’ve been able to go back to sleep because I know the decision doesn’t have to be made for a week or two. But it’s extremely difficult because of what they’ve meant to us. … It’s excruciating. It really is.
Even though I wouldn’t read too much into their quotes here, it is safe to say that USA Basketball is willing to part ways with some of the older members from the 2012 Olympic Team.
We know that there will be at least four new faces on the team with Tamika Catchings and Candace Parker not participating in the World Championships, that will make things a little easier for Callan and the selection committee. But ultimately, how many new players will there be on the final team, and who will they be? Share us your thoughts in the comments below.
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