The 2016 U.S. Olympic women’s basketball team will have a strong connection to the University of Connecticut.
UConn head women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma is the head coach of the U.S. Olympic team and several of its members have played for him at Storrs.
UConn alums Sue Bird, of the Seattle Storm, and Diana Taurasi, of the Phoenix Mercury, are two of the three captains leading the team. Tamika Catchings, of Indiana Fever, is the other captain.
Former UConn players and 2012 Olympic gold medalists Tina Charles, of the New York Liberty, and Maya Moore, of the Minnesota Lynx, will be back, and UConn star Breanna Stewart is joining the team for the first time.
Another first-time member of the team is Elena Delle Donne, of the Chicago Sky, who was briefly a UConn Husky.
The 2016 U.S. Olympic Team also includes two-time Olympic gold medalists Seimone Augustus and Sylvia Fowles, both of the Minnesota Lynx, as well as 2012 Olympic gold medalists Angel McCoughtry, of the Atlanta Dream, and Lindsay Whalen, of the Minnesota Lynx.
Brittney Griner, of the Phoenix Mercury, is another first-time Olympian.
USA Basketball Women’s National Team Player Selection Committee has chosen the team, which is pending approval by the USOC.
“Obviously it’s always incredibly difficult to try to identify 12 players from a group of so many great players,” Auriemma said in a statement posted on the USA Basketball Web site.
He has led the USA National Team to a 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,” Auriemma said in a statement.
He said an influx of young players will be a great benefit this year and will set the stage going forward.
“They will be the future of the USA Basketball Women's National Team,” he said.
DePaul University’s Doug Bruno, the Minnesota Lynx’ Cheryl Reeve and University of South Carolina’s Dawn Staley will assist Auriemma during the 2016 Olympic Games.
The 2016 Olympic Games will be held from Aug. 5 to 21 in Rio de Janeiro.