NEW YORK (AP) — The U.S. women’s national basketball team’s college tour is set to tip off next month.
USA Basketball announced Wednesday that members of the women’s team will play exhibition games at Stanford, Oregon State, Texas A&M and Oregon in early November to prepare for the FIBA tournament later in the month.
“Historically speaking, it has been great for our program to have a college tour,” U.S. coach Dawn Staley said. “All our past USA teams that had a college tour went on to win Olympic gold medals. So, if we can pull back into some historical times in which we had the opportunity to showcase our national team in this light, women’s college basketball is at an all-time high as far as exposure. This will increase the exposure to women’s basketball. And I’m excited. … It’s more prep time. The more time we have, the better we will perform in Tokyo.”
Staley won’t be coaching during the tour because she will be focused on her own college team, South Carolina. Olympic assistant coaches Dan Hughes and Cheryl Reeve will lead the team.
“I’m going to tell Cheryl and Dan, do what you got to do to win the game. Whether it’s our stuff or their stuff. Instincts take over. We just want to win the games,” Staley told The Associated Press last month.
The Americans revealed at the WNBA All-Star Game that they would have an expanded training program to help prepare for the Tokyo Olympics, where they will be trying for a seventh consecutive gold medal. The exhibition games will be the first of five training periods leading up to the Olympics. As part of the expansion, a core group of players led by Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi will be paid $2,000 a day at each of the training camps and games.
The two stars, going for their unprecedented fifth Olympic gold, are joined by Elena Delle Donne, Skylar Diggins-Smith, Sylvia Fowle, Chelsea Gray, A’ja Wilson and Nneka Ogwumike in the core group. The game at Stanford will be a homecoming for Ogwumike, who starred at the school. The roster for the November exhibition games will be rounded out by Seimone Augustus, Layshia Clarendon, Napheesa Collier and Kelsey Plum.
Gray will miss the game at Stanford and Plum will miss the first two games due to previous personal commitments.
This is the Americans’ first extended college tour since training for the Beijing Olympics in 2008. The only loss came in 1999-2000 against Tennessee, with the U.S. winning the other 39 games.
The U.S. will play another series of exhibition games against colleges in February.