basketball

AP

U.S. women’s basketball team loses to college program for first time since 1999

Leave a comment

The U.S. women’s basketball team suffered its first defeat to a college program in 20 years, falling 93-86 on Saturday to Oregon, which is ranked No. 1 in the AP preseason poll.

It was an exhibition, but the U.S. starting lineup included Olympic champions Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi, Sylvia Fowles and Seimone Augustus. A full box score is here.

The U.S. lacked some of its top bigs. WNBA MVP Elena Delle Donne, Brittney Griner, Tina Charles and Breanna Stewart were not part of the four-game, eight-day college tour.

The Ducks, led by senior triple-double machine Sabrina Ionescu, became the second college team to beat the U.S. after Tennessee’s 65-64 win in 1999. The U.S. has played 44 games against NCAA teams since 1995.

Ionescu, who scored 30 points, is also a two-time reigning U.S. national champion in 3×3, a new Olympic event, making her a possible choice for either Olympic team.

The U.S. women, under new coach Dawn Staley, previously beat Stanford (95-80), Oregon State (81-58) and Texas A&M (93-63) in the college series.

The Americans are on a 46-game win streak between the Olympics and FIBA World Cup dating to 2006.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: U.S. 3×3 basketball teams get one chance to qualify for Olympics

Skylar Diggins-Smith’s first game as a mom will be with USA Basketball

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Skylar Diggins-Smith said she participated in her first full practice since last year on Friday. On Saturday, she will be available to play in a game for the first time since having her son, when the U.S. women’s national team opens its four-stop tour against top college teams at Stanford.

Diggins-Smith, who did not play the 2019 WNBA season after childbirth and tweeted that she played the entire previous season while pregnant, said she has no restrictions.

“Just getting back in shape and rhythm and timing, some of those things I’m going to have to get back on-the-job training,” she said after practice Friday, a little over a month after participating in a training camp when she wasn’t at full-go. “I’m not even thinking about what percentage I am or putting any pressure on myself to be on a certain timeline or anything. I am what I am, and I know I still got a little more I can give.”

Diggins-Smith, a four-time WNBA All-Star, is one of the most accomplished would-be, first-time Olympians pushing for playing time at guard as Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi close out their international careers.

The WNBA’s No. 3 overall draft pick in 2013 was among the final cuts for the 2014 World Championship team. An ACL tear in 2015 derailed Rio Olympic hopes.

In February 2018, new U.S. head coach Dawn Staley named Diggins-Smith first when listing potential need fillers at the point. Diggins-Smith then played at an all-WNBA second-team caliber that season. Her last game before childbirth was Aug. 21, 2018, in the Dallas Wings’ playoff exit.

The FIBA World Cup, the biggest international tournament outside the Olympics, began a month later without her. After childbirth, Diggins-Smith tweeted that she took two full months away from everything due to postpartum depression.

She’s back and ready to do whatever U.S. coaches ask of her as the run-up to Tokyo Olympic selection starts.

“They know me. I’m just here to be myself,” Diggins-Smith said. “Whatever your role is — it may not be the normal role that you have on your team in the WNBA. Whatever the case may be. I’m just here. I’m back on the floor. This is my first 90 minutes, two hours together [at practice Friday], so I don’t really know what anybody expects of me, but just trying to give good effort, good energy, talk on defense and, yeah, just do whatever they’re asking me to do.”

Diggins-Smith has spoken with many moms in the WNBA.

That included Taj McWilliams-Franklin, who played 14 WNBA seasons and was the Wings’ interim head coach to close out Diggins-Smith’s last season in 2018. McWilliams-Franklin learned she was pregnant with her first child in high school, after which scholarship offers were rescinded. McWilliams-Franklin reportedly said she lost endorsements sitting out part of the 2002 season due to pregnancy.

Diggins-Smith noted that Dallas teammates Tayler Hill and Glory Johnson are also moms.

Hill, the fourth overall draft pick in 2013, learned she was pregnant after her WNBA rookie season, had son Maurice in June 2014 and returned less than two months later for the final stretch of her second season.

Johnson, the fourth overall draft pick in 2012, had her twin daughters, Ava and Solei, nearly four months premature in October 2015 and has sometimes gone months away from them while playing overseas.

“A lot of moms around the league to turn to and a lot of working moms, period, that I have to reference, to talk to,” Diggins-Smith said. “Some who I just met. It’s interesting to hear everybody’s stories and everything that they’ve been through. It’s definitely inspiring, aspirational to see and hear some of these stories.”

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: U.S. 3×3 basketball teams get one chance to qualify for Olympics

U.S. 3×3 basketball teams get one chance to qualify for Olympics

Robbie Hummel
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Mongolia and Romania qualified for the Olympic debut of 3×3 basketball, but the U.S. might not.

Neither the U.S. men nor U.S. women were among the first Tokyo 2020 qualifiers in the new Olympic basketball event announced Friday: Serbia, Russia, China and host Japan for the men. Russia, China, Mongolia and Romania for the women.

Those nations made it via ranking points gained from international 3×3 results (with Japan getting one spot as host nation).

The U.S. must send a men’s and women’s team to India in March for each gender’s Olympic qualifying tournament. Twenty nations per gender will compete for three spots per gender in the Tokyo Games.

Also going are traditional basketball powers — like Spain, France and Lithuania for the men and Australia and France for the women.

If the U.S. qualifies for Tokyo, it will then choose its roster(s) in a similar fashion to its traditional basketball teams — via selection committee. It’s unlikely NBA players will be eligible.

Two of the four players must be ranked in the top 10 among Americans in the FIBA rankings, based on results from the last 12 months, on June 22. The other two must be in the top 100.

That means nobody can make the Olympic team without playing in a FIBA-endorsed 3×3 event, essentially ruling out NBA players who are focused on their club seasons.

Ideally, USA Basketball wants to take an entire 3×3 team that has been playing together. But it could pick and choose players from different teams. The Olympic teams would be named at the latest possible date before the overall July 6 entries deadline for the Games.

The U.S.’ top 10 male players at the moment come from one of two 3×3 teams — NY Harlem and Princeton.

Dominique Jones (Harlem)
Marcel Esonwune (Harlem)
Robbie Hummel (Princeton)
Damon Huffman (Princeton)
Kidani Brutus (Harlem)
Antoinne Morgano (Harlem)
Kareem Maddox (Princeton)
Craig Moore (Princeton)
Zahir Carrington (Princeton)
David Seagers (Harlem)

Princeton, with the most recognizable name from that group in the former Purdue star Hummel, won the world title in June. Harlem outranks Princeton in FIBA points accumulated from global tournaments.

The U.S. has five women ranked in the world top 250: Christyn Williams, Aleah Goodman, Bella Alarie, Michaela Onyenwere and Charli Collier.

3×3 games last 10 minutes, or until one team reaches 21 points. Games are played on a half-court with a 12-second shot clock, and offense immediately turns to defense after a team scores.

MORE: Kobe Bryant: Redeem Team 2 might not be enough

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!