NEW YORK -- The U.S. women's basketball national team is starting to look like a Connecticut alumni group.
UConn stars Tina Charles and Maya Moore were among 12 players added to the national team pool on Wednesday. Joining them were UConn alums Swin Cash, Asjha Jones and Renee Montgomery. Olympic gold medalists Diana Taurasi and Sue Bird were already part of the national pool, totaling seven of 20 players with Connecticut ties.
"I would be lying if I said that playing for coach [Geno] Auriemma doesn't help me in terms of what is expected," Montgomery said. "In the same sense, I do not feel that playing for him will help me make the team."
Alana Beard, Shameka Christon, Candice Dupree, Lindsey Harding, Angel McCoughtry, Lindsay Whalen and Candice Wiggins also were added to the group.
The 12 players and the eight returning 2008 Olympic gold medalists will be among those chosen for the 12-member 2010 World Championship team and the 2012 Olympic team. All the players added took part in a fall training camp in Washington, D.C.
"The first group is obviously so experienced and so used to winning, having been in the Olympics and having won a gold medal," said Geno Auriemma, the U.S. basketball coach. "This next group represents an opportunity for us, not only to continue to build a stronger USA national team for this coming World Championship and beyond, but it will help us identify who that next core group may be going forward."
Three players from camp left off the pool were Jayne Appel, Ebony Hoffman and Crystal Langhorne.
The U.S. women, who have won four straight Olympic gold medals, will have their first chance to qualify for the 2012 London Games at the world championships in the Czech Republic in September. The winner will receive an automatic spot in 2012.
The Americans lost to Russia in the semifinals of the 2006 world championships and were forced to qualify for the Beijing Olympics.