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We already knew who was not on the U.S. women’s basketball team’s roster for the Paris Olympics. Now we know who is.

Diana Taurasi has been named to the Olympic team for the sixth consecutive year and will lead an experienced squad as the U.S. women look to win their eighth consecutive gold medal. For only the second time in U.S. history, each of the 12 players on the squad has won gold at the Olympics or FIBA ​​World Championship.

“We tried to make this a basketball decision and give (US coach Cheryl Reeve) the best team with experience, depth, skill and confidence that we can win the gold medal,” Jen Rizzotti, chair of USA Basketball’s women’s national team committee, told USA TODAY Sports after the roster was announced Thursday morning.

“Twelve players is not a lot,” Rizzotti added. “We wanted to make sure we gave her essentially two starting lineups and a lot of great options, not knowing how Cheryl would use each individual player.”

Together, the team of Taurasi, Napheesa Collier, Kahleah Copper, Chelsea Gray, Brittney Griner, Sabrina Ionescu, Jewell Loyd, Kelsey Plum, Breanna Stewart, Alyssa Thomas, A’Ja Wilson and Jackie Young has won 15 Olympic gold medals and 18 FIBA ​​World Championship titles. There are eight WNBA champions and three WNBA MVPs, including reigning MVP Stewart.

Copper, Ionescu and Thomas are the only Olympic newcomers. Plum and Young won gold in Tokyo as part of the 3×3 team.

The committee evaluated players from the past three years, both at training camps and in competitions such as the 2022 World Cup and the Olympic qualifying tournament in February. Eleven criteria were taken into account in selecting the players: U.S. citizenship, availability, position, ability to play, versatility for other positions, coachability, attitude, adaptability to the team concept, leadership qualities, adaptability to international play and likelihood to contribute to the team’s success.

While Reeve was asked for her opinion, Rizzotti said roster decisions would be made by the committee, which also included South Carolina coach Dawn Staley, who led the U.S. women to gold in Tokyo; Bethany Donaphin, WNBA director of league operations; Dan Padover, general manager of the Atlanta Dream; and athlete representatives Seimone Augustus and DeLisha Milton-Jones.

Rizzotti said the committee relied heavily on Staley’s experience in Tokyo, as well as those of Staley, Augustus and Milton-Jones, who all played on Olympic teams.

“I can remember moments where I said, ‘Dawn, how did you feel in that moment in Tokyo? What kind of squad composition would you have wanted? What do you think Cheryl’s biggest challenges will be?'” Rizzotti recalled.

“They know what’s at stake and the stakes to be on those teams,” Rizzotti said of Staley, Augustus and Milton-Jones. “They know the highs of winning gold medals and the lows of being eliminated.”

The Olympic team will play the WNBA All-Stars in Phoenix on July 20, a game that will be broadcast on ESPN, before traveling to London to play Germany on July 23. The U.S. women open the Olympics in Paris on July 29 against Tokyo silver medalist Japan, followed by games against Belgium (August 1) and Germany (August 4). The knockout rounds begin on August 7.

Where is Caitlin Clark?

There is no tougher team in women’s basketball than the U.S. women’s team. It is so demanding and highly competitive that Caitlin Clark, the WNBA rookie who broke numerous college records before being drafted No. 1 in mid-April, didn’t make it.

“I know it’s the most competitive team in the world,” Clark said Sunday after it was announced she didn’t make the team. “… Honestly, no disappointment.”

Clark, 22, is incredibly popular and has helped spark an explosion of interest in the women’s game. While some argue that alone should have earned her a rare rookie spot on the Olympic team, the priority is winning the gold medal and Clark is simply not one of the best U.S. players right now.

“There were definitely some special circumstances surrounding Caitlin, but ultimately I’m proud that our committee stuck to the selection criteria,” Rizzotti said. “None of those criteria were related to ratings or marketability.”

Clark leads the WNBA in both total turnovers (70) and turnovers per game (5.4). Her 36 3-pointers are second in the league, but she ranks 29th in shooting percentage from beyond the arc. Clark and most of Indiana’s other starters were also benched in the second half of the Indiana Fever’s loss to the Connecticut Sun on Monday night, with coach Christie Sides saying you “can’t coach performance.”

Another reason Clark didn’t make the Paris squad is that she has never played for the senior national team, so she hasn’t been able to understand coach Cheryl Reeve’s system or develop timing and chemistry with the other players. That’s no small feat when an Olympic title is on the line and a last-gasp win over Belgium is still fresh in the U.S. team’s mind.

Tauarasi and Stewart are the youngest players to make the Olympic team as rookies, having played in the 2004 and 2016 Olympics respectively. However, both had previous senior national team experience: Taurasi had played in 13 friendly matches before her Olympic debut, and Stewart was on the senior national team at both the 2014 World Championship and the 2015 Pan American Games.

Clark was invited to the final training camp, the last before the squad was selected, but was unable to attend. As in recent years, the training camp was held the same weekend as the Final Four, and Clark led Iowa to its second consecutive NCAA title game.

Is Clark a replacement?

USA Basketball has not named any alternates, but any player in the Olympic pool, like Clark, could be considered if someone is injured or otherwise unable to play.

But the replacements would be chosen depending on the position to be filled. So if a center or a forward gets injured, Clark probably wouldn’t be considered. Or he wouldn’t be one of the first players considered. However, if it’s a guard, Clark could be the one who could replace that player.

One of the bigger questions revolves around the status of Chelsea Gray, who was injured during the WNBA Finals last season and has not yet played for the Las Vegas Aces. However, Rizzotti said the committee has been in contact with both Gray and the Aces and is “very confident” she will be ready to play.

When healthy, Gray is especially important to the U.S. national team roster. She succeeds longtime point guard Sue Bird, who helped the U.S. women win five gold medals before retiring after Tokyo. As part of the U.S. team in Tokyo and at the 2022 World Championship, Gray is also very familiar with the international game.

“With her proven track record and the fact that she is the best point guard in the world, we felt she was an important component,” Rizzotti said.

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