COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- Sue Bird, Swin Cash and Diana
Taurasi headline the U.S. women's national team that will head to
Europe this week for three games against top EuroLeague teams.
The former University of Connecticut teammates will be joined by
fellow former Olympians Katie Smith and DeLisha Milton-Jones on the
13-player squad that will begin training and player evaluations for
the team that will play in the World Championships in Sao Paulo, Brazil, from Sept. 12-23.
Smith, of the WNBA's Detroit Shock, is a two-time gold medalist
at both the Olympics (2000, '04) and World Championships ('98,
'02). Milton-Jones (Washington Mystics) was also on the team that
won at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, and Bird (Seattle Storm), Cash
(Detroit) and Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury) made their Olympic debuts
at Athens in '04.
"I will rely heavily on Katie, Sue, DeLisha, Swin and Diana,
all of whom already know the quality of competition that we will
face in the World Championships," Storm and national team coach
Anne Donovan said in a statement. "Their ability to guide and lead
our roster will be instrumental in our training for gold."
The U.S. will play MKB Euroleasing Sopron, who have the Los
Angeles Sparks' Nikki Teasley, in Sopron, Hungary, on March 6. The
Americans then will head to Gdynia, Poland, to face ChelLotos
Gdynia on March 8-9. Temeka Johnson (Washington) and Chelsea Newton
(Chicago) play for ChelLotos Gdynia.
Rounding out the initial U.S. team will be: Alana Beard and
Chasity Melvin of Washington; Kara Lawson and Nicole Powell of the
Sacramento Monarchs; Kristen Mann and Nicole Ohlde of the Minnesota
Lynx; Kara Braxton of the Houston Comets; and Becky Hammon of the
New York Liberty.
The final 12-member World Championship team will be named later