Another gold for the US women

Team USA captured their fifth consecutive Olympic gold yesterday by beating France, 86-50. Candace Parker came off the bench to lead the stats category with 21 points and 11 rebounds.

Box score.

Game quotes.

Photo gallery.

The US made it look easy.

ESPN analysis.

There has been a debate during these last three US games as to whether or not Coach Geno Auriemma was justified in changing Candace Parker’s role from starter to reserve. Logically, it didn’t make sense to bring the WNBA’s leading MVP candidate off the bench. Auriemma explained it this way:

“We started Candace for the early part of the tournament and there just wasn’t any kind of a rhythm or any kind of a flow, because what happened is that Tamika Catchings is out of position,” said Auriemma. “So I took a shot and said ‘well I don’t think there’s anyone else in the world that has someone like that coming off the bench, so let’s see where that goes.’

“And tonight she was spectacular; I think she was the Candace Parker that everyone hopes they can see every single night.”

No rhythm and flow in blowouts?

Auriemma also limited Angel McCoughtry’s minutes, despite her being one of the team’s top producers. This included yesterday’s match up, when he pulled her after a few moments after she had gone in and scored immediately:

“We knew that our role was going to be different here coming in,” said WNBA scoring leader Angel McCoughtry.” I accepted my role; I wanted to be the one that brings energy off the bench. But the great thing about our team was even when we subbed, it was still like you had stars in, we didn’t lose a thing.”

Throughout the tournament, McCoughtry was often the best player on the floor for the United States in her limited minutes. In less than 15 minutes per game, McCoughtry finished second on the team in scoring (10.9 ppg), while leading the team in FG percentage (.602) and steals (2.5 spg).

The Chicago Tribune, Parker’s hometown daily, says she succeeded in spite of Auriemma:

That attitude came in handy for Parker when Auriemma decided after the Games began to replace her in the starting lineup with Maya Moore. Moore is one of six of players on Team USA who played for Auriemma in college. He could not have had more of a Connecticut influence on the roster without adding an insurance agent to the staff.

If the decision frustrated Parker, she took it out on her opponents.

“I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to start,” said Parker, who averaged 10.5 points over eight Olympic games. “It’s definitely a different mindset. But I just tried to provide as much energy as possible when I came in.”

Parker’s response typified the maturity she and her teammates showed throughout an Olympics in which Team USA often was taken for granted.

They paid more attention to who was watching — their irrepressible coach — than anyone who wasn’t here. They tuned out and locked in, Auriemma style.

“We just played,” Parker said.

I have no doubt that Auriemma wasn’t being consciously biased towards his former players. But there’s no doubt he was being subconsciously biased.

In the meantime yesterday, Australia beat Russia for the bronze medal.

U17 bonus:

The U17 national team whooped Australia 103-58 yesterday in their second exhibition game en route to the world championships in a few weeks.

9 COMMENTS

  1. Knowing the kind of person Geno admits to being, I have no problem thinking he favored the Connecticut women conciously. When a team goes to the Olympics pretty much gauranteed to win, the "cereal box" factor becomes important to its members. Whose endorsement money goes up from the perception that they were a star at the Games — a much more visible showcase than the WNBA to most of America — whose "Q" rating rises and talk show guest gigs increase. You can see it when Head and Shoulders endorser Michael Phelps whips off his two swim caps faster than any other man or woman in the swimming events and runs his hands through his hair. You can see it when track winners proceed into choreographed celebrations. Why wouldn't a me-first, mine-first guy like Geno not help his alums increase their income?

  2. He sat Angel for her unsportsmanlike scream after a layup.
    Two of the UCONN players barely played. Bird is the best point guard in America and Charles is the best center. That leaves Taurasi and Moore. Those who watch the games know that Maya does all the little things, taking a charge, diving for a loose ball etc.
    If anyone shouldve sat it was Catchings. She looked old.

  3. Catchings? Old? Catchings is the toughest player I've ever seen , she's relentless. Parker played ok in the 1st 3 games, but she caught standing straight up at times. Her defense is not the best, but her height makes up for that. Notice how she got beat on a lot of layups, but she was still able to block the shot because she's 6'4. If anybody should sit and shutup, it's these fans who obviously dislike Geno. The Committee chose the BEST person for the job, if there's a problem, contact Carol Callan.

  4. HuskyGirl must have missed that Gruda was scorching Tina Charles and then Candace enters and Gruda gets nothing…nada…zilch.

  5. If Geno is smart he'll be done coaching the USWNT now and all of the haters, gender baiters and Tennessee cry babies can line up to start bitching about the new coach.

  6. How could you be so certain what a total stranger was doing unconsciously? You've made your biases known (personal dislike forGeno, Lady Vol fanatic) but this information sounds like it was gleaned from Psychic Friends Network. If you added the qualifier "I think" to the beginning of your observation, I would have had no problem with it but it seems like even in something that is meant to unite our nation and community, we can drop things like UConn vs. Tennessee, which leads to ridiculous spectulation and finger pointing. You should have started with "some of my best friends are."

    I say "Hurray" for the Women's Basketball Gold.

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