Sept. 29--Indeed tonight's showdown with unbeaten Australia is on, as both the U.S. and Aussies won last night. The U.S. hammered Belarus 107-71 as Sylvia Fowles saw her first extended action, 19 minutes, of the tournament. She led the U.S. in scoring and rebounding in the 2008 Olympics but came into this year's tournament hurt. Well, she's OK, based on a team-high 15 points and 6 rebounds last night. Diana Taurasi added 14, the hot-shooting Candice Dupree 12 (and 6 boards), and Swin Cash and Maya Moore 11 each. Taurasi, Sue Bird and Lindsay Whalen each had 4 assists, and Whalen added 4 steals.
The U.S. led 23-6 and 37-11 at the quarter, and never looked back.
The Aussies beat France 62-52 as WNBA MVP Lauren Jackson led the way with 19 points and 10 boards.
The U.S. and Australia play at 8:15 local time tonight at Ostrava, Czech Republic. That would appear to be about 1:15 this afternoon local time here in Minnesota, but don't hold me to that. The game is on NBA TV and www.FIBATV.
Sept. 28--You wouldn't know it from the mainstream media, but the U.S. women's national team has played--and won--4 games at the FIBA World Championships in the Czech Republic.
First came 3 games in Group B, in which the U.S. defeated Greece 99-73, Senegal 118-52 and France 81-60 to advance to the second round.
In the second round the U.S. is in Group E, and has now defeated Canada 87-46. Lindsay Whalen led the Americans against Canada with 16 points. Belarus (2-2) comes tonight, followed by a showdown with undefeated Australia on Wednesday.
The top 8 in each pool (Group E and Group F) will advance to the quarter-finals. Right now the semi-finalists would look to be the U.S. and Australia (both 4-0 in Group E) and Russia and Spain (both 4-0 in Group F).
So far, Sue Bird, Swin Cash, Tamika Catchings and Diana Taurasi have started all 4 games, but second-stringers Maya Moore and Whalen are among the top 5 in minutes. Nine players are averaging 17.5 minutes or more, with Ashja Jones, the injured Sylvia Fowles and Jayne Appel in more of a supporting role. Fowles, who led the 2008 Olympic gold medal team in both scoring and rebounding, is playing only 10 minutes per game here.
1, Candice Dupree 11.3 ppg 5.3 rebounds 83% FG shooting
2. Angel McCoughtry 11.3 and 3.8 assists
3. Tina Charles 10.5 and 5 rebounds
4. Swin Cash 10
5. Diana Taurasi 9 ppg
6. Maya Moore 8.3 plus 5 rebounds and 3 assists
7. Tamika Catchings 8.3
8. Lindsay Whalen 7.5
9. Sue Bird 6.8 plus 2.8 assists
As a team, the U.S. is shooting 55 percent from the field--61 percent on 2s, just 28 percent on 3s--while the opposition is shooting 39 percent--44 percent on 2s, and the same 28 percent on 3s. So, not only is the U.S. winning the battle inside the 3-point arc, it is also winning the battle for possessions. The U.S. is getting 78 possessions per game, with 15 offensive rebounds and 16.5 turnovers, while opponents are getting just 62, with 8.5 offensive boards and 24 turnovers.
The U.S. is rated #1 in the world and, as noted, won the 2008 Olympic gold medal. Australia would have to be rated as a co-favorite, however. They are the defending champ in the FIBA worlds, defeating Russia in the gold medal game 91-74 after Russia had upset the U.S. in the semi's 75-68.
Not only that, but the Aussies, led by WNBA MVP and scoring champ Lauren Jackson, beat the U.S. 83-77 last month in Spain. What I didn't know when I wrote my last post on this subject, however, is that the U.S. had also defeated Australia a week earlier in Hartford, Connecticut 89-56. The Aussies were without Jackson in both of those games.
At the worlds, the U.S. and Aussies have 2 common opponents so far. The U.S. beat Canada by 41, the Aussies by 25. On the other hand, the Americans beat Greece by 26, the Aussies beat 'em by 39. Jackson is averaging 15 points and 11 boards for Australia.