Fab four Lynx, Griner among 21 finalists
15.02.2012 - Basketball
COLORADO SPRINGS (Olympics) - USA Basketball have included four players from Minnesota's WNBA Championship-winning side of last year in the 21 finalists for the United States Olympic squad.
Seimone Augustus, injured and unable to help the Americans in their world title run in 2010, rebounded and led the Lynx to their first WNBA title last summer.
Augustus, the WNBA Finals MVP, along with Maya Moore, Lindsay Whalen and Rebekkah Brunson, are the Minnesota players that have a chance to make the team.
All four are playing in Europe with their respective sides having advanced to Round 2 of the EuroLeague Women.
When asked if having the four in the 12-strong Olympic team would be an advantage since they know each other so well, USA coach Geno Auriemma said: "Lindsay Whalen, Seimone Augustus and Maya Moore have all at one time or another been a part of the World Championship team or the Olympic team.
"Not only do they have some experience playing together, but they have USA Basketball World Championship or Olympic experience.
"Rebekkah Brunson does not but, your point about familiarity is a good one.
"I don't know how that translates into being on the team, but certainly the fact that they know each other, they have experience and they've had the great success of winning the WNBA Championship this year and were so impressive to watch, I certainly think it's an added bonus for them to be in that situation."
Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi and Tamika Catchings - members of the last two Olympic gold-medal winning sides, are among the 21, as well as Swin Cash - a player in the team that won the title in Athens in 2004.
Among the 21 finalists is a college basketball player.
Baylor's Brittney Griner is just 21 and the youngest of those in the pre-Olympic squad.
The 2.03m center made a very good impression at the end of last summer on the USA's tour of Europe.
"I remember when Sue and Diane and Swin were just coming out of college and they went and played in Athens and they were real young, and I remember the impact that they had, as did Candace Parker, Tamika Catchings," Auriemma said.
"Being young is an age, it's a number. Brittney Griner is young but in some ways, her game is older than she is.
"The thing that is going to be a major issue is the lack of international experience that Brittney has.
"That's going to take some getting used to.
"But she brings an element to any team that is impossible to find.
"You don't just get players that are game-changers like that. I don't think anybody else in the world has anybody like Brittney Griner."
As for Catchings, who got hurt during the 2011 WNBA season, Auriemma is hopeful she will be fit.
"We faced this situation in the World Championship," he said.
"Seimone Augustus was coming off a real serious injury and another health-related injury and she couldn't play. It was really difficult for her, and difficult for us because I love her.
"She got healthy and had an incredible, incredible (2011) summer.
"Tamika is in that category of people having won gold medals, won World Championships, won NCAA Championships. She knows how to win.
"She's a great competitor."
Finalists for USA women's Olympic team: Jayne Appel, Seimone Augustus, Sue Bird, Rebekkah Brunson, Swin Cash, Tamika Catchings, Tina Charles, Candice Dupree, Sylvia Fowles, Brittney Griner, Lindsey Harding, Asjha Jones, Kara Lawson, Angel McCoughtry, Renee Montgomery, Maya Moore, Candace Parker, Cappie Pondexter, Diana Taurasi, Lindsay Whalen and Sophie Young.