Dream standout selected to second consecutive U.S. Olympic squad
ATLANTA (April 27, 2016) – Atlanta Dream standout Angel McCoughtry has been selected to the 12-member 2016 U.S. Olympic Team, which was announced Wednesday morning in front of a nationally-televised audience on NBC’s TODAY Show.
McCoughtry was a member of the 2012 gold-medal winning U.S. Olympic squad as well as a member of the 2010 and 2014 U.S. FIBA World Championship Team, each of which also captured gold. During the 2012 London Games, McCoughtry averaged 10.9 points and a tournament second-best 2.5 steals per game. She led all competitors in the 12-team tournament in field goal percentage (.620, 31-50).
“I think the emotion, I don’t even know how to explain it, it’s just a gut feeling because you’re nervous about the call, and you don’t even know what you’re going to hear,” McCoughtry said. “When you hear that you made the team, there’s just this feeling you get, there’s excitement, there’s butterflies and the thought that, ‘Wow! I get to represent my country again.’ It gives you more motivation and makes you want to get ready even more. Like, I want to go to the gym right now just to get ready. There’s definitely a motivation that you feel inside.”
The U.S. Women’s Basketball Olympic Team has won five consecutive gold medals. Joining McCoughtry as previous gold medal recipients are: three-time Olympic gold medalists and tri-captains Sue Bird (Seattle Storm), Tamika Catchings (Indiana Fever) and Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury); two-time Olympic champions Seimone Augustus (Minnesota Lynx) and Sylvia Fowles (Minnesota Lynx); and 2012 Olympic gold medalists Tina Charles (New York Liberty), Angel McCoughtry (Atlanta Dream), Maya Moore (Minnesota Lynx) and Lindsay Whalen (Minnesota Lynx). Competing in their first Olympic Games are Elena Delle Donne (Chicago Sky), Brittney Griner (Phoenix Mercury) and Breanna Stewart (University of Connecticut).
With five-straight gold medals, the U.S. owns the longest Olympic gold medal streak ever recorded for a women’s traditional team sport. Canada (ice hockey) and Russia (synchronized swimming) have each strung together four consecutive gold medals. The only other nations’ teams to surpass five in a row are India (men’s field hockey) with six and the USA (men’s basketball) with seven.
University of Connecticut head coach Geno Auriemma will lead Team USA and is being assisted through the 2016 Olympic Games by DePaul University’s Doug Bruno, the Minnesota Lynx’ Cheryl Reeve and University of South Carolina’s Dawn Staley.
“Obviously, it’s always incredibly difficult to try to identify 12 players from a group of so many great players,” Auriemma said, who has directed the USA National Team to an overall 23-0 record and gold medals at the 2012 Olympic Games and the 2010 and 2014 FIBA World Championships. “The committee had a really difficult job this year, because it’s the first time in a long time that a lot more than 12 players could easily have been named to that team. But the 12 that were named are a great combination of Olympic gold-medal experience, multiple gold medal winners and great leaders.”
FIBA on March 11, 2016, held the draw to determine the Aug. 6-10 preliminary round groups, and the United States (2014 FIBA World Championship gold medalist) was placed in Group B along with Canada (2015 FIBA Americas gold medalist), Senegal (2015 FIBA Africa gold medalist), Serbia (2015 EuroBasket gold medalist) and two teams that will earn their berths at the 2016 FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament, June 13-19, in Nantes, France. The top five finishing teams from the Olympic qualifier will earn a berth to Rio, with the second and fourth best teams included in Group B.
The U.S. will open play against Senegal on either Aug. 6 or Aug. 7 (all game times to be announced by FIBA at a later date), followed by the No. 4 team from the Olympic qualifier on Aug. 8, Serbia on Aug. 10, Canada Aug. 12, and the USA concludes preliminary round play on Aug. 14 against the No. 2 team from the Olympic qualifier.
All 12 of the U.S. players began competing for USA Basketball while still in high school or college, and in addition to their Olympic experience, Bird is a four-time USA World Championship Team member and three-time FIBA World Championship gold medalist; Catchings, Charles, McCoughtry, Moore, Taurasi and Whalen have captured two World Championship gold medals; Fowles earned gold at the 2010 Worlds; and Augustus, Griner and Stewart earned a gold medal at the 2014 FIBA World Championship. Additionally, Augustus, Bird, Catchings and Taurasi returned with a bronze medal from the 2006 FIBA World Championship.
The 2016 U.S. Olympic Women’s Basketball Team was selected by the USA Basketball Women’s National Team Player Selection Committee. Chaired by Carol Callan, the committee includes: WNBA appointees Reneé Brown, WNBA chief of basketball operations and player relations; Dan Hughes, head coach and general manager of the San Antonio Stars; and Chris Sienko, vice president and general manager of the Connecticut Sun; and three-time Olympic and two-time FIBA World Championship gold medalist Katie Smith, who played in nearly 200 games for USA Basketball from 1993-2008 and serves as the athlete representative.
Angel McCoughtry Quotes (Atlanta Dream / Louisville / Baltimore, Md.)
How did you feel when you found out you were going to be on your second Olympic team?
I think the emotion, I don’t even know how to explain it, it’s just a gut feeling because you’re nervous about the call, and you don’t even know what you’re going to hear. When you hear that you made the team, there’s just this feeling you get, there’s excitement, there’s butterflies and the thought that, ‘Wow! I get to represent my country again.’ It gives you more motivation and makes you want to get ready even more. Like, I want to go to the gym right now just to get ready. There’s definitely a motivation that you feel inside.
What does it mean for you to have another opportunity to represent your country through basketball?
You know what? It still hasn’t hit me yet. Even from the last Olympics, it’s like, ‘Wow, I’m really one of the best players in the world? I’m playing on the Olympic team?’ And then to win the gold, it’s like, ‘Wow, we really are the best. We are really some of the best in the world.’ It’s still hard to grasp. And I got to play with other great players like Diana (Taurasi) and Tamika (Catchings). It was like, ‘Wow I’m with them. I’m really here with them.’ And that is still such a humbling experience. I’m sure it will hit me soon, it will really sink in. This is just amazing.
How do you think you can help this team win gold?
Back in the 2012 Olympics, I was in the core group that brought energy to the team off the bench. We came in the game, and you didn’t lose that energy. Now we’ve gotten a little bit older, so that core group is definitely a little bit older, so we definitely have to get smarter. I think what I bring personally is to continually bring that energy off the bench and be a defensive stopper. And that is what Geno (Auriemma) talks to me about, me being a good defensive stopper off the bench. We have a lot of players who can score. We know anybody can score on any day on this team, so that’s not the issue. So what can I do outside of scoring is getting steals, rebounds pumping the team up, giving them that energy they need. That is the role that I have embraced and will continue to embrace for the 2016 Olympics.
Your first USA Basketball trip – your first gold medal – was at the 2007 Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro. What are some of your memories from that trip?
I really enjoyed learning from Dawn (Staley, who was the head coach of the 2007 USA team). She’s one of the coaches who has really helped me grow my career. In the Pan Am Games I did not start very well. I was nervous, but she told me, ‘Angel, just play.’ And I wound up having some of my best games. So that was my first experience in an Olympic-type setting. It really helped me grow. I learned a lot, and now I am excited I’m going back to Rio. I’m 30, I’ve grown a lot, my maturity is there and I think I can really help the team on another level.
2016 Olympic Games
The 2016 Olympic Games will be held Aug. 5-21 in Rio de Janeiro. A total of 12 nations will compete in the Olympic women’s basketball competition. In addition to host Brazil and the USA, which earned its berth by virtue of winning gold at the 2014 FIBA World Championship, the gold-medal winning teams from each of FIBA’s five zones have qualified for Rio, including Australia (FIBA Oceania), Canada (FIBA Americas), Japan (FIBA Asia), Senegal (FIBA Africa) and Serbia (FIBA Europe).
The top-placing teams in each zone tournament — not including the champions — qualified for the 2016 FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament (June 13-19, 2016 @ Nantes, France), and those teams include: Cameroon and Nigeria from FIBA Africa; Argentina, Cuba and Venezuela from FIBA Americas; China and South Korea from FIBA Asia; Belarus, France, Spain and Turkey from FIBA Europe; and New Zealand from FIBA Oceania.
U.S. Olympic women’s basketball teams have earned a record seven gold medals, one silver medal and one bronze medal, and are 58-3 all-time in Olympic competition. The 2016 U.S. team will enter Rio riding a 41-game Olympic winning streak that dates back to the 1992 Barcelona Olympics bronze medal game.
Since the inception of the 1995-96 USA Basketball Women’s National Team program, the USA National Team, in addition to its record five-straight Olympic gold medals, has captured four FIBA World Championship gold medals, one FIBA World Championship bronze medal and one FIBA Americas Championship gold medal, while compiling a remarkable 86-1 record for a .989 winning percentage in those events. Further, USA National Teams in exhibition contests since 1995 boast of a 186-15 record (.925 winning percentage).
The three-time Eastern Conference Champion Atlanta Dream is entering its ninth season in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA).
The Dream plays their home games at Philips Arena. Atlanta has qualified for the playoffs six times, winning conference titles in 2013, 2011 and 2010.