UNCASVILLE - Make no mistake—Connecticut basketball fans will most certainly be interested in watching the women’s basketball tournament at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, as Team USA will have a decided Connecticut flavor. For starters, the team will be coached by Hall of Famer Geno Auriemma, the legendary UConn coach who has led the Huskies to eight Big East championships, eight Final Four appearances and five national championships in the past 10 years.
Asjha Jones has been named to the 12th and final spot on the U.S. 2012 Olympic Women's Basketball Team.
And then, of course, there’s the team—loaded with Connecticut-related talent. Indeed, six of the 12 players on Team USA are former Huskies, and another, Lindsay Whalen, is a former favorite of Connecticut basketball fans thanks to her six years as starting point guard for the Connecticut Sun. (Whalen was traded to her native Minnesota in 2010—a blockbuster deal that landed the Sun the first pick in the 2010 draft, which they promptly parlayed into Tina Charles, as well as former UConn star Renee Montgomery).
The team will consist of former UConn stars Sue Bird (currently a member of the Seattle Storm), Swin Cash (Chicago Sky), Tina Charles (Connecticut Sun), Maya Moore (Minnesota Lynx) and Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury), all of whom were named to the team on March 30. Other players previously announced were Whalen and Seimone Agustus (both currently playing for the Lynx), Tamika Catchings (Indiana Fever) and Candace Parker (Los Angeles Sparks).
And for icing on the cake. former UConn star Asjha Jones, currently a key member of the Connecticut Sun, was named to the team on Monday.
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“It was kind of like I was in disbelief and shock,” said Jones, a 6-3 power forward who also played for Team USA in the 2007-2008 World Championships. “I kind of put the Olympics out of my head because I didn’t think I was going to be on the team.” The WNBA will take a one-month break in August so that its best players can represent their respective countries in the tournament.
“It’s an honor,” continued Jones, a 10-year WNBA veteran and two-time All-Star who played on the 2000 and 2002 UConn national champion teams. “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 so excited to be a part of this.
“It’s well deserved,” said Auriemma. “[Jones] adds an awful lot of maturity, experience and talent to this team. Asjha has proven herself both in the WNBA and overseas to be able to defend anybody and to be able to score. So, when we’re looking at who that 12th player was [going to be], having somebody with Asjha’s experience [gives] us a lot of comfort knowing that we have somebody who can really compliment the other post players who have already been named.”
The U.S. team will compete for its fifth straight gold medal in London this summer. Auriemma will be assisted by DePaul University head coach Doug Bruno, 1988 Olympic gold medalist and Washington Mystics assistant coach Jennifer Gillom and Atlanta Dream head coach Marynell Meadors.
The Connecticut Sun will open their tkth season in the Nutmeg State on Sat., May 19, when they travel to Newark, N.J., to take on the New York Liberty. The home opener is the next day, Sun., May 20, also against the Liberty. Tip-off is slated for 5 p.m. For ticket information, including full season tickets and mini-plans, please visit www.wnba.com/sun.