Experience on U.S. women's basketball's side as they prepare to compete for eighth straight gold medal

Every member of the 2024 roster has won either an Olympic or World Cup gold medal, with a combined 15 Olympic medals between the 12 players.

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Sun forward Alyssa Thomas is a first-time Olympian, however, she's no newcomer to Team USA.

Sun forward Alyssa Thomas is a first-time Olympian, however, she’s no newcomer to Team USA.

Jessica Hill/AP

Experience is the trademark of the U.S. women’s Olympic basketball roster.

The governing body’s ability to integrate new talent seamlessly into the Olympic player pool is one reason for the team’s unmatched legacy of success. Every member of the 2024 roster has won either an Olympic or World Cup gold medal, with a combined 15 Olympic medals between the 12 players.

Three of those players, however, will be making their Olympic debut: former Sky swing player Kahleah Copper, Liberty guard Sabrina Ionescu and Sun forward Alyssa Thomas who was at Wintrust Arena on Wednesday to play the Sky.

Before rejoining Team USA for the World Cup in 2022, Thomas hadn’t competed with the U.S. team in about nine years. She took a step away after getting the sense that “it wasn’t right for me at the time.”

When coach Cheryl Reeve reached out to her ahead of worlds, Thomas still had her reservations.

“I just didn’t feel like it was a team that was fit for my style of play,” Thomas said. “But [Reeve] reassured me her main goal was the defense, and she really wanted me to spearhead that.”

Copper will be another key to the defensive identity being emphasized by Reeve.

Mercury guard Diana Taurasi boasts the most experience on the Olympic roster, with her set to record a sixth consecutive appearance. Mercury center Brittney Griner and Liberty forward Breanna Stewart are both making their third Olympic appearance. Aces Forward A’ja Wilson, Lynx forward Napheesa Collier, Storm guard Jewell Loyd and Aces guard Chelsea Gray are all competing in their second.

Aces guards Kelsey Plum and Jackie Young both won gold in the 2020 Olympics competing with the 3x3 basketball team.

Kara Lawson, Joni Taylor and Mike Thibault will serve as assistant coaches.

Three fall

The Sky continue to struggle from behind the arc.

Entering Wednesday, they were 11th in three-point percentage and last in attempts, averaging just 14.9 a game. As a result, their offensive rating (96.8) has dipped to eighth.

Sky guard Marina Mabrey leads the team in scoring, averaging 15.6 points. She’s shooting 37.3% from behind the arc. Mabrey and guard Dana Evans (32.4%) are the only Sky players who have taken more than 20 three-point attempts this season.

“Not only can Marina shoot from behind the arc but we have quite a few where we have to get them involved,” Sky coach Teresa Weatherspoon said. “And get them involved in the right way. We don’t want to just jack threes. We want to do it in the right way.”

This and that

  • Sun coach Stephanie White’s WNBA coaching career began with the Sky. She was an assistant on Bo Overton’s staff in 2007 before spending three season’s on Steven Key’s staff.
  • Sun guard Veronica Burton played four seasons at Northwestern, where she was a three-time Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year. She was waived by the Wings — who drafted her seventh overall in 2022 — ahead of the 2024 season. She signed a rest-of-season contract with the Sun on June 5.
  • Weatherspoon said Wednesday rookie center Kamilla Cardoso and forward Isabelle Harrison are no longer on a minutes restriction. Cardoso played a season-high 30 minutes while Harrison played 11 minutes.
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