EUGENE, Ore. — Diana Taurasi walked out of locker area Saturday and glanced around at some Usa Basketball staffers. “Humble pie,” Taurasi reported. “Sometimes it is really great for you.”
The U.S. women of all ages experienced just misplaced to No. 1-ranked Oregon. For just the next time since Usa Basketball started putting collectively women’s tours to enjoy exhibitions from university teams, the school crew won. It despatched the 11,530 followers at Matthew Knight Arena into a joyous frenzy.
And the U.S. squad? Despite the players’ outward graciousness, they were irritated to shed to university little ones. Admittedly, it’s one particular recreation, and it’s well worth noting all the gamers who weren’t there for Team United states of america. But right after four college or university exhibition online games, the People encounter some concerns.
The U.S. women’s countrywide crew gets back to competition proper absent, enjoying in the FIBA Americas Pre-Olympic Qualifying match in Argentina this 7 days. The People facial area Brazil on Thursday, Argentina on Saturday and Colombia on Sunday.
The United States, as winner of final year’s Earth Cup, has previously skilled for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Even so, this pre-qualifying event and a qualifying event in February are crucial alternatives for the U.S. women to play with each other. Chicago’s Diamond DeShields and Dallas’ Arike Ogunbowale, who weren’t part of the college tour, will join the U.S. squad in Argentina.
What is up with the perimeter defense?
In the four exhibition games, guards led the way in scoring for the college groups: Stanford’s Kiana Williams and DiJonai Carrington (17 factors), Oregon State’s Destiny Slocum (15), Texas A&M’s Chennedy Carter (34) and Oregon’s Sabrina Ionescu (30).
A significant part of this is that the greatest player(s) for those people teams are guards. But we also have to search at the defense of the U.S. guards. In these 4 game titles, it did not glimpse elite.
Some of this is rust. Seattle’s Sue Hen (knee) and Dallas’ Skylar Diggins-Smith (maternity go away) didn’t enjoy this WNBA time. Phoenix’s Diana Taurasi (back again, hamstring) played just six online games, and Seimone Augustus (knee) played 13. Connecticut’s Layshia Clarendon (ankle) didn’t participate in following June 16.
Age also is an unavoidable matter: Bird is 39, Taurasi 37 and Augustus 35.
Los Angeles’ Chelsea Gray, Las Vegas’ Kelsey Plum and Dallas’ Allisha Gray all performed entire WNBA seasons. But Chelsea Gray skipped the Stanford match, and Plum skipped both of those the Stanford and Oregon Condition games. None of these three gamers has a large amount of senior national staff practical experience.
Introducing DeShields and Ogunbowale for the future video games will be a strengthen. There are guards in the nationwide crew pool, such as Seattle’s Jordin Canada and Connecticut’s Jasmine Thomas, who are major-notch defenders.
But why isn’t really Washington’s Natasha Cloud in the pool? She just won a WNBA title with the Mystics and has the correct talent established — she’s a strong stage guard with great dimensions and quickness, as well as she’s an extraordinary defender — that the U.S. ladies could use. At 27, she’s in her primary, and she needs to perform for the countrywide crew. (For what it truly is value, her Mystics teammate, Ariel Atkins, is one more great perimeter defender, and she’s just 23.)
Usa Basketball has usually valued loyalty from gamers, and it’s easy to understand that the firm has proven that back. But that has intended some other players under no circumstances bought a lot of a probability. Chicago’s Courtney Vandersloot, a WNBA 1st-crew decide on this time and in the running for finest level guard in the planet, is a recent case in point: She failed to make the 2016 Olympic workforce, when she was 27, and felt time was managing out for an Olympic encounter. So she joined the Hungarian nationwide team in 2017.
We’re a lot of months from the Tokyo Video games, so a ton will enjoy out before the last Olympic roster decisions are produced. But the perimeter protection has to be tackled.
How about the post enjoy?
There is a ton of superstar-caliber depth at the forward and middle positions for Crew United states of america when absolutely everyone is obtainable and healthful. But for the higher education tour, only three genuine post players performed all 4 video games: Los Angeles forward Nneka Ogwumike, Minnesota middle Sylvia Fowles and Minnesota ahead Napheesa Collier. Las Vegas ahead A’ja Wilson missed the Texas A&M and Oregon game titles due to the fact of a demise in her spouse and children.
Ogwumike led the group in scoring (19.5 PPG) and rebounding (8.6). She and Fowles (11.5, 6.3) the two started off. Collier (4.8, 5.5) arrived off the bench.
Washington’s Elena Delle Donne, the 2019 WNBA MVP, is a single of the “core 8” contracted to exercise and enjoy with the national crew by means of the Olympics, together with Chook, Taurasi, Diggins-Smith, Chelsea Grey, Fowles, Ogwumike and Wilson. But Delle Donne is resting and recovering from herniated disks in her again, and she did not participate in in any of the game titles.
Seattle’s Breanna Stewart, the 2018 WNBA MVP, missed the WNBA year simply because of an Achilles’ harm suffered in April. She has claimed she hopes to return to action in February. New York’s Tina Charles, Phoenix’s Brittney Griner and Minnesota’s Maya Moore also are not with the national crew. All three, like Charles and Delle Donne, are former Olympians.
Griner and Charles are enjoying overseas. Moore’s standing, not just with the national workforce but in basketball in normal, is uncertain, as she took a hiatus this yr to operate on social-justice problems.
Does the United States have all it desires in write-up enjoy in the pool? Sure, if everyone’s nutritious, but Seattle’s Natasha Howard, the WNBA’s defensive participant of the year this period, isn’t really involved and probably ought to be.
Ultimately, the U.S. is nonetheless the overpowering beloved in Tokyo, wherever the Us citizens will go for their seventh consecutive Olympic gold medal. But the school tour was intended to examination the squad, and it did. There will be at the very least two extra game titles versus faculty systems: Jan. 27 at UConn and Feb. 2 at Louisville.
“Each and every encounter is an opportunity to increase,” Ogwumike reported of the loss to Oregon. “But we’ll be prepared for the game titles in Argentina.”