Nov. 11, 2003
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Nov. 11, 2003) -- The 2003 USA Basketball World Championship For Young Women Team, which finished with a 7-1 record and collected the inaugural FIBA World Championship For Young Women gold medal in Sibenik, Croatia, has been selected as the 2003 USA Basketball Team of the Year by the USA Basketball Executive Committee.
With its selection as USA Basketball's Team of the Year, the squad becomes eligible for the 2003 U.S. Olympic Team of the Year award which will be announced by the USOC at a later date.
"USA Basketball is very proud of its Women's 2003 World Championship for Young Women Team and its gold medal performance," said USA Basketball Executive Director Jim Tooley. "This group was a true team with different players stepping up each game and having three team members be named to the all-tournament team, including Seimone Augustus who was named tournament MVP."
2003 marks the eighth time the USA Basketball Team of the Year Award has been presented. The award has been earned by the historic 1996 U.S. Women's Olympic Team / USA Women's National Team, 1997 USA Women's Junior World Championship Team, 1998 and 2002 USA Women's World Championship squads, 1999 USA Men's Tournament of the Americas Team, 2000 U.S. Women's Olympic Team / USA Women's National Team, 2001 USA World Championship For Young Men Team and the 2002 USA Women's World Championship Team.
The Ohio State University head coach Jim Foster served as head coach for the U.S. squad, while Harvard University head coachKathy Delaney-Smithand Hofstra University head coach Felisha Legette-Jack assisted Foster on the sidelines.
The USA 12-member team, which was comprised of athletes 21-years-old and younger (born on or after Jan. 1, 1982), included Seimone Augustus(LSU / Baton Rouge, La.); Alana Beard (Duke / Shreveport, La.); Temeka Johnson (LSU / Kenner, La.); Kristen Mann (UC Santa Barbara / Santa Ana, Calif.); Caity Matter (Ohio State / Bluffton, Ohio); Nicole Ohlde (Kansas State / Clay Center, Kan.); Shawntinice Polk (Arizona / Hanford, Calif.); Cappie Pondexter (Rutgers / Chicago, Ill.); Christi Thomas (Georgia / Buford, Ga.); Kendra Wecker (Kansas State / Marysville, Kan.); Lindsay Whalen (Minnesota / Hutchinson, Minn.) and Tanisha Wright (Penn State / West Mifflin, Pa.).
Opening with a 56-48 victory over France on July 25, the U.S. downed South Korea 95-46 on July 26 and suffered its only setback on July 27, a 73-60 loss to Brazil. Following a day off, the USA closed out preliminary round play with a 94-46 drubbing of the Czech Republic on July 29 and an 83-58 win against host Croatia on July 30. After a day of rest the United States ousted Australia 80-56 in quarterfinals play on Aug. 1. Facing France on Aug. 2 for the right to advance to the gold medal game, the Americans fought their way to a 58-47 victory.
Meeting Brazil in the gold medal game, the United States had an opportunity to avenge its only loss of the tournament. And avenge the loss the USA did. Behind 18 points from tournament MVP Augustus, as well as 13 and 12 points from all-tournament selections Thomas and Beard, respectively, the United States battled to a 71-55 gold medal victory.
The USA's team effort saw seven different players complete a game as the squad's top scorer, including Augustus, Beard, Mann, Ohlde, Polk, Pondexter and Thomas. Paced by Augustus' 10.6 points per game average, the United States' well-rounded effort saw eight players average between 5.3 points and 10.6 points a game. Beard was the USA's second leading scorer (9.3 ppg.), Polk was third (8.4 ppg.), Ohlde was fourth (7.8 ppg.) and Thomas was the USA's fifth leading scorer (7.6 ppg.). Thomas, Ohlde and Polk led the squad in rebounding, grabbing 6.8 rebounds, 5.6 rebounds and 5.1 rebounds per outing, respectively. Additionally, Beard passed off for a team high 1.5 assists and nabbed 2.9 steals per contest.
Because the U.S. relied on a balanced scoring attack, none of the players finished among the top ten in the tournament in scoring. However, Polk and Augustus ranked third and fourth, respectively, in field goal percentage as Polk made 61.2 percent (30-49 FGs) of her attempts and Augustus lit up the nets for 59.1 percent (39-66 FGs). Beard finished tied for seventh in steals (2.9 spg.) and Thomas was the tournament's eighth best rebounder (6.8 rpg.).
The unselfish play of the Americans produced a No. 1 ranking in five major statistical categories and top four in six additional categories. Ranking first for scoring (74.6 ppg.), the U.S. also led in scoring defense (53.6 ppg.), scoring margin (21.0 ppg.), rebounding margin (11.5 rpg.) and field goal percentage (45.5 / 242-532 FGs).
Prior to the World Championship For Young Women, the U.S. played a pair of exhibition games against both the Australian and Brazilian young women squads in Boston. Mass. Earning a 4-0 record against Brazil and Australia, which finished with a 6-2 record at the under-12 Worlds, the USA downed its opponents by a 15.5 ppg. margin (74.5 to 59.0 ppg.) in those four games. Beard, who played just three games after making a cross-country trip to the annual ESPY Awards as a finalist for the Women's College Basketball Player of the Year, finished as the team's top scorer a 15.3 ppg., while Ohlde averaged 10.5 ppg., Wecker scored 10.0 ppg. and Pondexter, who passed off for 5.0 apg., averaged 9.0 ppg.
An event which will be held every four years, the First FIBA World Championship For Young Women format featured 12 nations competing July 25 - Aug. 3 in Sibenik, Croatia. While the USA and Brazil finished first and second, France collected the bronze medal with an 80-66 victory over host Croatia.