The USA Basketball Women’s National Team, which is in pursuit of a seventh consecutive Olympic gold medal, has added exhibition games to its schedule against a pair of top 10 programs and will face the University of Connecticut on Jan. 27 and University of Louisville on Feb. 2.
The U.S. squad, headlined by four-time Olympic gold medalists Sue Bird (Seattle Storm) and Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury), could add one additional NCAA game to its schedule, to be announced at a later date.
Ticket information for each game can be found at USAB.com/tickets.
“Anytime that we can schedule an organized competition is always going to be good for building chemistry,” said USA National Team head coach Dawn Staley. “Allowing some of our younger players to play with our more experienced players is always going to help us.
“Playing UConn, playing in front of their crowd and knowing that Geno has so much experience internationally, to see him pick us apart a little bit will allow us to grow.
“Louisville’s athletic and they get up and down the floor, so they mirror some of the international players. For Sue, Diana, A’ja and the other players, they’re looking forward to playing a challenging schedule. They look forward to playing together and hopefully winning together.
“It’s great for the college teams also. They get to play against Sue and Diana, who have probably played longer than these college players have been alive. But, they get a chance to experience what the next level feels like. And if they take a closer look at how our USA Basketball team operates – they’re full of communication, they really understand how to play the game, so it’s just our entire women’s basketball sport is growing because our older players are teaching our younger players through playing.”
As part of its expanded women’s national team program, USA Basketball has secured commitments from eight elite athletes from the 2019-20 USA National Team pool to participate in the team’s five training segments that will take place between November 2019 and April 2020. In addition to Bird and Taurasi, those eight include Elena Delle Donne (Washington Mystics/Delaware), Skylar Diggins-Smith (Dallas Wings/Notre Dame), Sylvia Fowles (Minnesota Lynx/Louisiana State), Chelsea Gray (Los Angeles Sparks/Duke), Nneka Ogwumike (Los Angeles Sparks/Stanford) and A’ja Wilson (Las Vegas Aces/South Carolina).
It is anticipated that these eight athletes will compete in the Connecticut and Louisville games, with the remaining four roster spots to come from the 2019-20 USA Basketball Women’s National Team pool, which currently includes 36 athletes after the recent additions of Jordin Canada (Seattle Storm/UCLA) and Arike Ogunbowale (Dallas Wings/Notre Dame).
The game against the Huskies will mark the third time a USA National Team has played a Connecticut squad and the first USA versus Louisville match-up. Previously the 1995-96 USA National Team downed UConn 83-47 behind 20 points from eventual Hall of Famer Lisa Leslie, while Leslie scored a game-high 19 points in a 90-74 USA victory in November 2007.
The USA recently tipped-off its 2019 fall schedule and has earned a pair of victories, 95-80 against Stanford University on Nov. 2 and 81-58 over Oregon State University on Nov. 4. The USA’s final two domestic exhibitions ahead of the Nov. 14-18 FIBA Americas Pre-Olympic Qualifying Tournament will be at Texas A&M University on Nov. 7 and University of Oregon on Nov. 9.