COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (April 23, 2012) – With the addition of 2010 FIBA World Championship gold medalist Asjha Jones (Connecticut Sun), the 2012 U.S. Olympic Women’s Basketball Team was finalized today by USA Basketball. Jones, who joins the 11 previously announced team members, was selected by the USA Basketball Women’s National Team Player Selection Committee, approved by the USA Basketball Board of Directors and is pending final approval by the U.S. Olympic Committee.
“It’s an honor,” said Jones. “My mom, everyone in my family is so excited for me. I think it’s exciting how people respond to you when you tell them. A lot of people want to cry. Just to see the way people react to the news is really special. I’m really exited. I’m so excited to be a part of this.
“It was kind of like I was in disbelief and shock,” Jones said about hearing the news. “I kind of put the Olympics out of my head because I didn’t think I was going to be on the team. First I was surprised that Carol (Callan) was even calling me. Then when I answered and she told me the news, I was very surprised, very shocked. I was really, really honored to be picked up.”
“I’m excited,” said USA and University of Connecticut head coach Geno Auriemma. “I think it’s well deserved. She adds an awful lot of maturity, experience and talent to this team. Some of the teams that we’re going to have to beat in the Olympics, the best teams are really the ones who have the most experienced post players. Asjha has proven herself both in the WNBA and overseas to be able to defend anybody and to be able to score. She’s got experience. All of the things you would look for in a player, she has those qualities. So, when we’re looking at who that 12th player was, having somebody with Asjha’s experience and certainly what she’s done overseas, especially this year, has given us a lot of comfort knowing that we have somebody who can really compliment the other post players who have already been named.”
“As always, this decision was very difficult due to the breadth and quality of the USA National Team pool,” said USA Basketball Women’s National Team Director Carol Callan, a member of the selection committee. “Asjha has shown her abilities throughout the EuroLeague season, culminating in earning MVP honors at the Final Eight. Her abilities and leadership as a veteran of international basketball and over the last several years with our USA National Team program makes her a great choice for this final spot. Her experience pushed her forward in terms of selecting the final roster spot.”
The 6-3 forward was a member of the 2007-08 USA National Team, but was injured during the September 2007 training camp and unable to participate in drills. She returned in 2009, and in her first stint playing for USA Basketball aided the USA to a 3-0 mark and the 2009 UMMC Ekaterinburg International Invitational title. Named to the 2010 USA World Championship Team, Jones was on hand for the team’s four pre-World Championship exhibition games and went on to help lead the U.S. to the gold at the Worlds. Last fall Jones played in the final three of the USA’s five games in its 2011 European Tour.
A 10-year WNBA veteran, Jones is a two-time WNBA All-Star and was named to the 2008 All-WNBA second team. She competes professionally in Europe and after helping propel her Rivas Ecopolis (Spain) squad to the 2012 EuroLeague championship game, Jones was named the 2012 EuroLeague Final Eight MVP. She closed out the season averaging a EuroLeague career-high 17.9 points and 9.0 rebounds per game for Rivas in EuroLeague games.
In her four-year (1999-2002) collegiate career Jones, who played for Auriemma at the University of Connecticut, aided the Huskies to a 136-9 record (.938), won a pair of NCAA crowns (2000, 2002) while advancing to four NCAA Tournaments, including the 2001 Final Four, and earned four Big East regular season and tournament titles.
USA Basketball Announces First 11 Players For 2012 U.S. Women’s Olympic Team
U.S. Roster Features Blend Of Talented International Veterans, Rising Stars
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (March 30, 2012) – The first 11 members of the 2012 U.S. Olympic Women’s Basketball Team were announced by USA Basketball and features a trio of two-time.
Olympic gold medalists, four athletes who have each earned one Olympic gold medal and four newcomers to the Olympic stage. The well-balanced and talented core of the U.S. squad will compete for the USA’s fifth-consecutive Olympic gold medal in London this summer. The athletes were selected by the USA Basketball Women’s National Team Player Selection Committee, approved by the USA Basketball Board of Directors and are pending final approval by the U.S. Olympic Committee. One slot remains for the eventual 12-member U.S. squad and the final athlete will be selected at a later date.
Named to their third Olympic team were Sue Bird (Seattle Storm), Tamika Catchings (Indiana Fever), and Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury), all of whom won gold medals at the 2004 and 2008 Olympic Games. Competing in her second Olympics after winning gold in Athens in 2004 is Swin Cash (Chicago Sky); while Seimone Augustus (Minnesota Lynx), Sylvia Fowles (Chicago Sky) and Candace Parker (Los Angeles Sparks) captured their Olympic gold medal in Beijing in 2008. Playing on the Olympic stage for the first time will be Tina Charles (Connecticut Sun), Angel McCoughtry (Atlanta Dream), Maya Moore (Minnesota Lynx) and Lindsay Whalen (Minnesota Lynx).
“The USA Basketball Women’s National Team program has been able to sustain an unparalleled level of success in Olympic competition,” said Jim Tooley, USA Basketball executive director/CEO. “That is due, in part, to the continuity of its players. We believe we have selected the best core group possible to continue our success on the international stage. These 11 players include a great mix of international veterans, whose leadership is invaluable to the team, and we have young players who have proven themselves and who are hungry for this opportunity.
“The selection process was not an easy task. There were a number of athletes in consideration for a spot on the Olympic team, and it was difficult to pare the team down from the 21 finalists. We believe we have assembled a solid core that will help continue USA Basketball’s string of gold medals. I extend my thanks and appreciation to our USA Basketball Women’s National Team Player Selection Committee for the time and effort they put into the selection process.”
“I think anytime you’re choosing a team made up of the best players, not only the best players in the country, they’re some of the best players in the world, it’s very difficult to come to a team of 12. While 11 players have been selected to be a part of the 2012 Olympic Team, some really, really good players are still in the mix for that final spot,” said Geno Auriemma , 2009-12 USA National Team and University of Connecticut head coach. “I think for the 11, the committee took into consideration what the competition is and who we’re going to have to beat, and put together a really incredible group of players that is not only highly skilled and competitive, they’re proven winners. You have Olympic gold medal winners, World Championship gold medal winners, NCAA champions, WNBA champions, European champions. It’s just a group of unique individuals that I’m really, really looking forward to coaching.
“Anytime you coach USA Basketball, there’s inherent pressure,” added Auriemma when asked about the added pressure of being the four-time defending Olympic champion. “Pressure on you as a coach to make sure you do a great job with your team, make sure you’re prepared and that the players are ready for whatever comes your way and we’re committed to one goal as a team. So, there’s that pressure. There’s the pressure that the players put on themselves because they’re winners. They’re used to winning. There’s pressure in the fact that the United States has won four gold medals in a row. That’s a good kind of pressure. To me, that’s the kind of pressure that makes you even better, because the bar’s set really, really high. Knowing the competitive nature of the group and the coaching staff, the higher the bar, the better we like it. I’m thrilled that we won four in a row. I have a tremendous admiration for the coaches who have coached in those four gold medal games and those players who have played in them. I hope we can continue to add to that legacy.”
In addition to the combined 10 Olympic gold medals, all 11 players have won a FIBA World Championship medal. Bird and Catchings, both of whom were on the 2002 USA World Championship Team that won gold, were joined on the gold medal winning 2010 USA World Championship Team by Cash, Charles, Fowles, McCoughtry, Moore and Whalen; while Augustus, Bird, Catchings, Parker and Taurasi returned with the bronze medal from the 2006 FIBA World Championship.
Three U.S. team members have earned USA Basketball Female Athlete of the Year honors, including two-time winner Taurasi (2006, 2010), Augustus (2007) and Charles (2009).
story courtesy of USA Basketball press release