The 2018 WNBA FIBA World Cup team roster has been finalized, with Sue Bird (Seattle Storm) making her fifth World Cup appearance and Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury) making her fourth. But the older, familiar faces are balanced with a handful of younger talent making their first appearances on the USA Basketball Women’s National Team, including: Layshia Clarendon and Morgan Tuck (Connecticut Sun), Jewell Loyd (Seattle Storm) and Kelsey Plum and A’ja Wilson (Las Vegas Aces).
Here’s a look at the USA Basketball Women’s National Team roster for the World Cup and the players’ notable achievements during the 2018 WNBA season:
- Sue Bird (Seattle Storm) — A 2018 WNBA champion, Bird also became the all-time assists leader in league history as well as the first player to compete in 500 games.
- Tina Charles (New York Liberty) — The Liberty’s season was disappointing, but Charles averaged 19.7 points and 7.0 rebounds per game for the regular season.
- Layshia Clarendon (Connecticut Sun) — Clarendon averaged 4.8 points and 2.2 assists for the regular season and the Sun finished fourth in the standings heading into the playoffs.
- Elena Delle Donne (Washington Mystics) — Delle Donne averaged 20.7 points and 7.2 rebounds for the regular season, was voted Player of the Week in the East four times and led the Mystics to their first-ever WNBA Finals.
- Brittney Griner (Phoenix Mercury) — Griner averaged 20.5 points and 7.7 rebounds per game for the regular season and helped the Mercury turn an 0-2 start in the semifinals into a five-game series.
- Jewell Loyd (Seattle Storm) — A first-time WNBA champion, Loyd also became a first-time All-Star in 2018; she averaged 15.5 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.7 assists during the regular season.
- Nneka Ogwumike (Los Angeles Sparks) — Ogwumike averaged 15.5 points and 6.8 rebounds per game for the regular season; her Sparks finished sixth in the standings, but were bounced from the playoffs in the second round.
- Kelsey Plum (Las Vegas Aces) — Plum nearly helped up the Aces pull off an upset against the Dallas Wings for the eighth playoff seed; she averaged 9.5 points and 4.0 assists for the regular season.
- Breanna Stewart (Seattle Storm) — Averaging 21.8 points and 8.4 rebounds per game in the regular season, Stewart was an All-Star and became a first-time WNBA champion; she also won the league MVP and Finals MVP awards.
- Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury) — Taurasi averaged 20.7 points and 5.3 rebounds for the regular season during which she also became the all-time scoring leader in WNBA history.
- Morgan Tuck (Connecticut Sun) — Tuck averaged 5.9 points and 2.3 rebounds per game for the the regular season to help the Sun enter the playoffs fourth in the standings.
- A’ja Wilson (Las Vegas Aces) — Wilson averaged 20.7 points and 8.0 rebounds per game for the regular season, her first in the league; she swept the Rookie of the Month awards, was an All-Star selection and was named Rookie of the Year by unanimous vote.
The USA Basketball Women’s National Team roster was determined by a selection committee chaired by USA Women’s National Team Director Carol Callan. The team is coached by Hall of Famer Dawn Staley (Team USA, University of South Carolina), with Dan Hughes (Seattle Storm), Cheryl Reeve (Minnesota Lynx) and Jennifer Rizzotti (George Washington) serving in assisting roles.
Team USA is heading for a collision with Liz Cambage and Team Australia
Team USA won the FIBA World Cup in 2014 (against Spain) and in 2010 (against the Czech Republic). But in 2006, an Australian team powered by Lauren Jackson and Penny Taylor finished first (against Russia), with Team USA finishing in a disappointing third place. This year, Team USA is stacked deep with talented players and coaches to the lead the way, but a three-peat win of the World Cup is not guaranteed, with Team Australia posing the biggest threat.
Coached by Sandy Brondello (Phoenix Mercury), who won the 2018 WNBA Coach of the Month award for June, Team Australia also has talented players coming off of a competitive WNBA season. If Team USA advances to the quarterfinals, the matchup most likely would be against an Australian team that includes as its centerpiece Liz Cambage (Dallas Wings), who scored 53 points in a game during the 2018 WNBA season, another 35 points in a game two days later, and tallied a 43-point and 13-rebound double-double on Aug. 17 to help the Wings clinch the eighth seed in the playoffs.
Cambage will be accompanied on the court by Cayla George (Dallas Wings), who scored a season-high 12 points on July 12 but averaged just under 4 points per game during the 2018 WNBA season; Sami Whitcomb, who averaged 6.2 points per game for the Seattle Storm in the postseason and had 11 points, 4 assists and 3 rebounds in the Game 5 semifinals’ win against the Phoenix Mercury; Stephanie Talbot, who helped the Phoenix Mercury battle back from down 0-2 in the semifinals to make it a five-game series, displaying clutch shooting abilities in the postseason; and Rebecca Allen (New York Liberty), who can score the ball and, despite not receiving much playing time during the 2018 WNBA season, tallied 13-, 16- and 15-point games in August.
Other WNBA players competing in the tournament for other countries include:
- Belgium — Emma Meesseman (Washington Mystics, 2017)
- Canada — Natalie Achonwa (Indiana Fever), Kayla Alexander (Indiana Fever), Kia Nurse (New York Liberty)
- Korea — JiSu Park (Las Vegas Aces)
Scorching the status quo
ESPN’s Rachel Nichols reported in-depth on the findings from an investigation into the Dallas Mavericks’ workplace culture that was characterized as “toxic” due to ongoing harassment and abuse of women, insufficient handling of complaints by women who were harmed and enabling of the perpetrators by owner Mark Cuban.
The NBA released the investigation into the Dallas Mavericks toxic workplace culture, and Adam Silver called the findings "disturbing and heartbreaking." pic.twitter.com/yekILg1uRp— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) September 19, 2018
Some are condemning the NBA for not suspending Cuban as a part of the punishment for allowing this environment to fester for decades. Sure, actions have been taken to revamp the culture, including putting women in leadership positions, and Cuban is reportedly donating millions of dollars to organizations that support women. But this truly seems like a slap on the wrist in terms of punishment and accountability. Considering that Cuban is a billionaire, $10 million will not break his bank account. Thus, by allowing Cuban to throw money at the problem, the NBA has missed the opportunity to issue real consequences for such complicit enabling of wrongdoing.
Furthermore, it is striking that other team owners and players have not sounded off about this the way they did when former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling was caught on tape making racially insensitive remarks. Sterling was forced to sell the team and he was banned from the NBA for life. Players toyed with the idea of sitting out games in protest of Sterling’s presence in the league. So, where is the collective outrage on behalf of women who suffered repeated violations from men who not only escaped punishment, but for whom Cuban offered to pay legal bills?
And which privilege is at play in this kittenish punishment of Cuban — money/fame or the fact that the victims are women? Surely, if Cuban had fostered an environment that had subjected million dollar NBA players to the type of ongoing abuse the women in the Mavericks organization faced, he would have been suspended if not forced to sell the team. The changes that have been enacted certainly matter, but they do not go far enough to show these women that they were valued as members of the organization and that they matter.
Drink up, link lush!
USA Basketball Women’s National Team Assistant Coach Cheryl Reeve came at Sue Bird on Twitter with some funny stuff. Naturally, Sue Bird had a hilarious retort, but she upped the ante by employing mad Photoshop skills (or by hiring someone with mad Photoshop skills), to go in for the kill
It’s been such a pleasure playing for you for all these years Love your coat!! pic.twitter.com/xqEQ0xphB9— Sue Bird (@S10Bird) September 18, 2018
In other news:
- While A’ja Wilson is competing for her country in the World Cup, the University of South Carolina is taking steps towards creating and erecting a statue outside of Colonial Life Arena where she played for the 2017 NCAAW Championship-winning Gamecocks.
- In the World Cup, Wilson is reunited with her college coach, Dawn Staley. Will their familiarity with each other help Team USA to win its third straight World Cup tournament?
- If you’ve been craving more basketball movies in your life, LeBron James has teamed with Ryan Coogler (The Black Panther) for Space Jam 2.
- But if books on basketball are more your game, Basketball: A Love Story by Jackie MacMullan is about the battle for racial equality in the basketball world. But it also delves into the rivalry between storied collegiate coaches Pat Summitt and Geno Auriemma.
- Malu Tshitenge-Mutombo, niece of former NBA player Dikembe Mutombo, has committed to the University of North Carolina, class of 2019. Tar Heels nation goes wild!
Shine brighter. * flicker flicker *