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U.S. Women Win Fifth Consecutive Basketball Gold. Will the WNBA Benefit?

Comparing the men’s and women’s games may also put the women at a disadvantage. “Men’s basketball is all dunks, and it’s flashier, and women’s basketball is more about finesse,” says Jenna Stigliano, 29, of Connecticut who came to watch the gold medal final in London. “The slower pace may turn people off.”

Or perhaps we’re just focusing on the wrong thing. While the sponsorships are slow to come in, the league is making an impact perhaps where it counts most – in school gyms. As of last year, seventeen former WNBA players are head coaches for college teams, and dozens more are employed as coaching assistants. That may be where the league can have its greatest influence in growing both the sport and inspiring girls to become hoopsters. And that may end up expanding the league itself, as the bolus of younger players pushes into the professional ranks and start to create a supply that seeds a demand.

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a “primer” on the team from the .com: The Gold Standard

Four straight Olympic gold medals.

A 33-game winning streak in Olympic competition dating back to 1992.

A 72-1 record in major international competitions over the past 16 years.

For the U.S. Women’s National Team, winning gold medals is not a goal to strive for, it is a standard that must be maintained. As the 2012 Olympic team came together this weekend in Washington, D.C. for a three-day training camp to continue its preparation for the Olympics in London, they understood what is at stake.

“Every time you put on that USA jersey there’s a certain expectation there,” said veteran guard Sue Bird. “Not just in the Olympics, but every time we take the court, no matter where we are. And the expectation is to win and most times to win big. There’s definitely some pressure there, but no more than we put on ourselves. We want to win that gold medal just as much as anybody.”

From Jared Zwerling (where’s Mechelle?): Diana Taurasi leads Team USA

“The veteran used to be 36-year-olds; now it’s 30? [laughs],” Taurasi said. “I like to think of myself as a young veteran.”

Eight years ago in Athens for the 2004 Olympics, Taurasi was only 22 and a rookie on the gold-medal team. Then in 2008 in Beijing, she proved herself more in extended minutes, winning another gold. Now, she’s the eyes and ears of the group.

“With D, everywhere she goes, everyone respects her game so much,” Auriemma said. “She’s an unbelievable teammate, she has the ability to get people to follow her, so she’s a rare combination of someone that can do everything on the court, and yet at the same time, makes you a better player as well. If Diana asks a question, everyone’s listening to what the answer is. If they have a question, they ask her. They know they’re going to get led in the right way.

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and it’s all about the bigs:

Four international veterans were today added to the 2009-12 USA Basketball Women’s National Team, from which the 2010 USA World Championship and 2012 U.S. Olympic teams will be selected. Added to the USA National Team roster were Jayne Appel (San Antonio Silver Stars), Rebekkah Brunson (Minnesota Lynx), Ebony Hoffman (Indiana Fever) and Kia Vaughn (New York Liberty), all of whom have aided USA Basketball teams to gold medals during their careers. Player selections were made by the five-member USA Basketball Women’s National Team Player Selection Committee.

Mechelle wonders where Langhorne is.

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