Diana Taurasi headlines veteran US women’s basketball team for Paris Olympics

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Diana Taurasi headlines veteran US women's basketball team for Paris Olympics

We already knew who isn’t on the U.S. women’s basketball team roster for the Paris Olympics. Now we know who is.

Diana Taurasi was chosen for a record sixth consecutive Olympic team and will lead a veteran squad as the U.S. women try and win their eighth gold medal in a row. For only the second time in U.S. history, each of the 12 players on the roster has won gold at either the Olympics or FIBA World Cup.

Combined, the team of Taurasi, Napheesa Collier, Kahleah Copper, Chelsea Gray, Brittney Griner, Sabrina Ionescu, Jewell Loyd, Kelsey Plum, Breanna Stewart, Alyssa Thomas, A’Ja Wilson and Jackie Young have 15 Olympic gold medals and 18 FIBA World Cup titles. There are eight WNBA champions and three WNBA MVPs, including the reigning MVP, Stewart.

Copper, Ionescu and Thomas are the only Olympic rookies. Plum and Young won gold as part of the 3×3 team in Tokyo.

Liberty forward Breanna Stewart (30) and Sky forward Angel Reese (5) at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York on May 23, 2024.

The Olympic team will play the WNBA All-Stars on July 20 in Phoenix, a game that will be broadcast on ESPN, before heading to London to play Germany on July 23. The U.S. women open the Paris Olympics against Japan, the silver medalist in Tokyo, on July 29, followed by games against Belgium (Aug. 1) and Germany (Aug. 4). The knockout rounds begin Aug. 7.

“We have selected a team that we are confident will represent our country to the highest standard in Paris,” Jen Rizzotti, chair of the women’s national team committee for USA Basketball, said in the release announcing the team Thursday.

The committee that selected the team also includes South Carolina coach Dawn Staley, who led the U.S. women to gold in Tokyo; Bethany Donaphin, head of league operations for the WNBA; Dan Padover, general manager of the Atlanta Dream; and athlete representatives Seimone Augustus and DeLisha Milton-Jones.

“Basketball in the United States boasts unparalleled depth,” Rizzotti said, “making this a challenging and competitive process.”

Where’s Caitlin Clark?

So challenging and competitive that Caitlin Clark, the WNBA rookie who shattered numerous college records before being drafted No. 1 overall in mid April, did not make the cut.

“I know it’s the most competitive team in the world,” Clark said Sunday, after news leaked that she had not made the team. “… Honestly, no disappointment.”

The 22-year-old Clark is wildly popular and has helped fuel explosive interest in the women’s game. While some have suggested that alone should have earned her a rare spot as a rookie on the Olympic team, the priority is winning gold and Clark is simply not among the best U.S. players right now.

She leads the WNBA in both total turnovers (70) and turnovers per game (5.4). She’s second in the league with 36 3-pointers, but ranks 29th in shooting percentage from deep. Clark and most of Indiana’s other starters also were benched in the second half of the Indiana Fever’s loss to the Connecticut Sun on Monday night, with coach Christie Sides saying you can’t “coach effort.”

Another factor in Clark not making the Paris squad is she has never played with the senior national team so she does not know coach Cheryl Reeve’s system or been able to develop timing and chemistry with the other players. No small thing when an Olympic title is on the line and a buzzer-beater win over Belgium is still fresh in the minds of the U.S. team.

Tauarasi and Stewart are the most recent players to make the Olympic team as rookies, playing in the 2004 and 2016 Olympics, respectively. Both, however, did have previous senior national team experience: Taurasi had played in 13 exhibition games before making her Olympic debut, and Stewart had been with the senior national team for both the 2014 World Cup and the 2015 Pan American games.

Clark was invited to the most recent training camp, the last one before the roster was selected, but was unable to participate. As it has been the last few years, the training camp was held the same weekend as the Final Four and Clark was taking Iowa to its second consecutive NCAA title game.

Is Clark an alternate?

USA Basketball didn’t name any alternates. However any player in the Olympic pool, as Clark is, would be eligible to be considered if someone gets hurt or cannot play for other reasons.

But alternates would be chosen based on the position that needs to be filled. So if a center or forward gets hurt, Clark would probably not be considered. Or wouldn’t be among the first players considered. If it’s a guard, however, Clark could be in line to replace that player.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: USA women’s basketball team heavy on veterans, missing Caitlin Clark

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