Path to USA Women’s Basketball Gold Goes Through Storrs

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Last fall, the USA National Women’s team won the FIBA World Cup with a 73-56 victory over Australia in Tenerife, Spain, which qualifies the United States for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. As always, UConn alumni were an important part of the team, which is selected by a USA Basketball committee that invites the best women’s players in the country to training camp tryouts.

Napheesa Collier faces off in a red-white scrimmage for USA Basketball. (USA Basketball Photo via UConn Athletic Communications)Napheesa Collier faces off in a red-white scrimmage for USA Basketball. Collier made it to the last cut before the final 2018 team was named, the only college student remaining in the pool at that point. (USA Basketball Photo)

The Huskies who were in the pool included Sue Bird of the Seattle Storm, Tina Charles of the N.Y. Liberty, Stefanie Dolson of the Chicago Sky, Tiffany Hayes of the Atlanta Dream, Breanna Stewart of the Seattle Storm, Diana Taurasi of the Phoenix Mercury, and Morgan Tuck of the Connecticut Sun. Current UConn seniors Napheesa Collier and Katie Lou Samuelson were invited to the tryouts. Samuelson was recovering from surgery after last season and could not attend, but Collier made it to the last cut before the final team was named, the only college student remaining in the pool at that point. Maya Moore of the Minnesota Lynx also is in the pool but opted to rest after a long year of playing in Russia and the WNBA.

When the 12 players that would go on to win the World Cup were selected, five were former Huskies – Bird, Charles, Stewart, Taurasi, and Tuck – who had a combined record of 723-33 while playing at UConn and who won 15 NCAA championships and 34 Gold Medals for USA Basketball in world competition as high school, college, or professional players.

Huskies are also an important part of the USA Basketball coaching team. Jennifer Rizzotti, a member of UConn’s first NCAA championship team and now head coach at George Washington University, is an assistant coach to current USA head coach Dawn Staley and has a dozen years as a USA Basketball coach. She also served as an advance scout for the 2016 U.S. Olympic team led by her former coach, Geno Auriemma, who guided the U.S. to Olympic gold in 2012 and 2016 and now is a special advisor to USA Basketball.

Ken Best checked in with Geno Auriemma, Napheesa Collier, and some other familiar names from UConn women’s basketball.

Listen to the podcast:

https://today.uconn.edu/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/USA-BASKETBALL-FINAL-EDIT-updated-per-jb.mp3

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