Friday, February 24, 2012
U.S. women add slate of exhibitions
The United States women's basketball team will tune up for the London Olympics with a few exhibition games.
The Americans will face Brazil in Washington, D.C., on July 16 in the first game of a doubleheader with the U.S. men's national team. The women will play the British national team two days later in Manchester.
A four-team tournament in Turkey will cap off the Americans' training before the Olympics begin July 27.
"That whole experience, the games in Washington, Manchester, Istanbul, they're going to be instrumental in deciding what kind of team we're going to be," U.S. coach Geno Auriemma said.
The Americans qualified for the London Games by winning the 2010 world championship. They will be looking to win their fifth straight gold medal.
The U.S. announced 21 finalists for the Olympic team on Feb. 13, with the 12-member final roster expected to be set this spring. WNBA stars Sue Bird, Tamika Catchings and Diana Taurasi, all of whom have won back-to-back gold medals, are among the finalists.
Joining them are other members of the 2008 Beijing Olympic team -- Seimone Augustus, Sylvia Fowles, Kara Lawson, Candace Parker and Cappie Pondexter.
Baylor junior Brittney Griner also is a finalist. She is looking to become the first women's basketball player still in college to compete in the Olympics for the U.S. since 1988, when Vicky Bullett (Maryland) and Bridgette Gordon (Tennessee) played.
The Olympic team also will train together for a few days in May before the start of the WNBA season.
"I think any opportunity that we get to train is vital," Auriemma said. "The game in Washington, D.C., against Brazil gives us an opportunity to see right away what we have. What are some of our strengths? What are some of our weaknesses?
"There should be a lot of fanfare for our team. These are phenomenal athletes and I want the entire country to back them. So, this will be a great opportunity to send them off."