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DeLisha Milton-Jones was selected to her third U.S. Olympic Team (photo Rodolfo Paez / NBAE / Getty

Thursday July 10, 2008Former UF Great DeLisha Milton-Jones Named to U.S. Women's Basketball Olympic Team

Colorado Springs, CO

DeLisha Milton-Jones was selected to her third U.S. Olympic Team (photo Rodolfo Paez / NBAE / Getty

 

Former University of Florida women's basketball All-American DeLisha Milton-Jones was named today by USA Basketball to the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team.

 

Milton-Jones, along with fellow former Southeastern Conference standouts Tamika Catchings (Indiana Fever) and Kara Lawson (Sacramento Monarchs), round out the official 12-member USA roster that will head to Beijing in hopes of defending the USA’s string of three consecutive Olympic gold medals. Selections were made by the USA Basketball Women’s Senior National Team Committee, chaired by WNBA chief of basketball operations and player relations Reneé Brown.

 

“The committee had a difficult time with these final three names because of the level of talent in our pool,” said Brown. “However, ultimately we feel that the experience and leadership that we've added to the team in Tamika Catchings, DeLisha Milton-Jones and Kara Lawson are the final pieces to this puzzle. Tamika and DeLisha both know what it takes to be Olympic champions and will help this team defensively. Kara is a tremendous team player who made the most of her opportunities during the FIBA Americas Championship and over the past year has proven herself as a member of this team.”

 

No stranger to USA Basketball, Milton-Jones has helped USA teams capture gold at eight tournaments, including the 2000 Olympic Games and 1998 and 2002 FIBA World Championship. She was also a member of the 2006 USA World Championship Team and earned gold at the 2002 Opals World Challenge, 1999 U.S. Olympic Cup, 1997 World University Games and the 1994 U.S. Olympic Festival. Additionally, Milton-Jones was slated to compete in the 2004 Olympics, but injured her knee and was unable to compete.

 

Milton-Jones wore the Gator Orange & Blue from 1993-97, establishing herself as one of the nation's top post players and becoming the most decorated player in program history. During her senior season, Milton-Jones was honored as UF’s first-ever recipient of The Wade Trophy, recognizing the top women’s basketball player in the country. She became the first-ever Florida athlete -- male or female -- to earn basketball first-team All-America honors, as she was recognized to the Kodak All-America team (10-player team) and by the Associated Press (five-player team). The accolades didn't end there, as Milton-Jones was the first Gator in program history ever named the SEC Player of the Year, by both the coaches & media, before she was voted Most Outstanding Performer of the 1997 NCAA Tournament Mideast Regional where she helped Florida to within two points of the Final Four, scoring 18 points with 19 rebounds against Old Dominion in her collegiate finale.

 

Current Florida head coach Amanda Butler played with Milton-Jones for one season (1993-94) at UF before joining the Gator staff as an assistant coach during Milton-Jones' junior and senior years in Gainesville.

 

"We couldn't be more proud of and more excited for DeLisha," Butler said. "Personally, I have known DeLisha as a teammate and as a coach at Florida and she will be a great representative of the Gator Nation and of the United States. Her passion is so inspiring to everyone around her and that's what makes her such a great player and teammate."

 

“I’m thrilled that Tamika, DeLisha and Kara have been added to the team,” said USA head coach Anne Donovan, a three-time Olympian. “Tamika is such a complete player and a tenacious defender who will add much to our already strong Olympic team. DeLisha’s international and Olympic experience is sure to further fortify our inside game.  I’m also pleased with the addition of Kara Lawson. Kara’s extensive experience training with the national team these last several years has made her a perfect selection for our team. She understands the game and her teammates so well that it’s like having another coach on the floor. All three of these athletes, along with the rest of the team, are comfortable with each other on the court, and know the system that we plan to utilize in Beijing. I’m excited about getting this team together at the end of this month and really focusing on our goal, which of course, is winning the gold medal.”

 

The first nine members were named to the U.S. squad on May 31, 2008, and include three-time Olympic gold medalist Lisa Leslie (Los Angeles Sparks); two-time Olympic gold medalist Katie Smith (Detroit Shock); 2004 Olympic gold medalists Sue Bird (Seattle Storm), Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury) and Tina Thompson (Houston Comets); and Seimone Augustus (Minnesota Lynx), Sylvia Fowles (Chicago Sky), Candace Parker (Los Angeles Sparks) and Cappie Pondexter (Phoenix Mercury), who will participate in their first Olympic Games this summer.

 

A 2004 Olympic and 2002 World Championship gold medalist, Catchings was named to her first USA Basketball team in 1996 while still in high school. She has also helped U.S. teams capture gold medals at the 2002 Opals World Challenge, 1998 R. William Jones Cup and 1997 FIBA Junior World Championship, silver at the 1997 COPABA Junior World Championship Qualifying Tournament and bronze at the 2006 FIBA World Championship. She last donned a USA Basketball jersey during the USA Women’s National Team’s 2007 Tour of Italy and helped the U.S. post a 4-0 slate, while averaging team highs of 12.8 ppg. and 9.0 rpg.

 

Lawson, who has plenty of international experience, will be participating in her first Olympic Games this summer. Added to the 2007-08 USA National Team roster on Sept. 7, 2007, she helped the United States capture the gold medal and its Olympic berth at the 2007 FIBA Americas Championship. Lawson’s first foray into the international game came a decade ago as a member of the 1998 USA World Youth Games Team that returned with the bronze medal. She returned in 2001 to claim gold as a member of the USA World University Games Team and also won a silver medal with the USA Select Team that competed in the 2007 FIBA World League Tournament.

 

FIBA conducted the draw to determine the Olympic preliminary round pools and schedule on April 26 in Beijing. The U.S. women were selected for Group B, as were host China, Czech Republic, Mali, New Zealand and Spain; while Group A features 2006 FIBA world champion Australia, Belarus, Brazil, Latvia, Russia and South Korea.  

 

Olympic women’s basketball competition will be held Aug. 9-23.  Preliminary play is scheduled for August 9, 11, 13, 15 and 17; quarterfinal action takes place Aug. 19; semifinal play is slated for Aug. 21; and the women’s finals will be held Aug. 23.

 

The U.S. Women’s Olympic Team opens Aug. 9 versus the Czech Republic, and next faces host China on Aug. 11, Mali on Aug. 13 and Spain on Aug. 15. The U.S. finishes off its preliminary play Aug. 17 against New Zealand.

 

The defending Olympic champs, the USA women in fact will be vying for a fourth consecutive Olympic gold.  Since women’s basketball was officially staged at the 1976 Olympics, the Americans have collected a record five gold medals, one silver and one bronze medal, while compiling a 42-3 (.933) overall record in seven Olympic appearances (the United States chose not to participate in the 1980 Olympic Games).

 

The 2007-08 USA Basketball Women’s National Team participated in six different training camps, while the USA Select Team, featuring members of the USA National Team, competed in the 2007 FIBA World League Tournament. During the team’s training the USA compiled a 25-2 mark against nine different national teams and five professional club teams, earned the gold medal at the 2007 FIBA Americas Championship and the silver medal at the 2008 Good Luck Beijing Tournament. Additionally, the USA Select Team posted a 3-2 slate, brought home the silver medal from the 2007 FIBA World League Tournament and notched victories against a pair of Russia’s top professional teams and the defending Australia WNBL champs.

 

Donovan is being assisted on the sidelines by Mike Thibault, head coach of the WNBA Connecticut Sun and collegiate head coaches Gail Goestenkors of the University of Texas and the University of South Carolina’s Dawn Staley.      

 

In addition to Brown, the USA Basketball Women’s Senior National Team Committee includes: athlete representatives Jennifer Azzi, a 1996 U.S. Olympic Team member, and Teresa Edwards, a five-time Olympian; New York Liberty President and General Manager Carol Blazejowski, Minnesota Lynx Chief Operating Officer Roger Griffith, Indiana Fever Chief Operating Officer and General Manager Kelly Krauskopf and Los Angeles Sparks General Manager Penny Toler serve as the WNBA representatives on the Committee; while University of Tennessee head coach Pat Summitt is the NCAA representative.

 

USA Basketball is the national governing body responsible for men’s and women’s basketball in the United States and is responsible for representing the USA in international competitions.

 

The selected players will be nominated to the United States Olympic Committee to participate in the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China.

 

 

DeLisha Milton-Jones on her selection to the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team

 

What kind of emotions are you feeling after being named to the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team?

I have one word that will encompass all my feelings and emotions, it’s my philosophy behind the quest for the Olympic gold and it’s called redemption. My definition of redemption is to right a wrong. What happened to us in Brazil, losing the World Championship and having to go and qualify for a spot in the Olympics in Chile, all of those things were wrong that happened. The only way to right those wrongs is to come to Beijing and win the gold. When you have the opportunity to participate with the team and to be able to right that wrong is tremendous for me. If I wasn’t named to the team and didn’t have that opportunity, that would be something I’d have to live with for the rest of my life. It would be very, very hard for me to deal with so I’m so elated.

 

What do you bring to the team?

The thing I bring is my defensive toughness. Of course, being experienced in this game, be it at the international level or domestically, really helps. Going into hostile territory, you’ll need some type of toughness that can be translated into positive energy for your teammates. If you have people who have positive energy it becomes contagious and the next thing we’re on the podium with our heads bowed receiving our gold medals. I really think that defensive intensity is the main thing that I’m going to bring to this team.

 

What are your thoughts on the team?

I think that the committee did a great job once again of finding who they thought would be the best athletes to represent our country in our quest for the gold medal. Everyone who is on this team is on this team for a specific reason. I’m sure they’re going to come and do whatever task is asked of them to do.

 

Aside from the obvious teams like Russia and Australia, who will be some of the tough teams to beat in Beijing?

I would have to say the Czechs and even a scrappy underdog like the Belarus team. But really anybody at this point. You can’t really pinpoint a specific team. We know who the cream of the crop are as far as the Olympics are concerned. But right now just about everyone is capable of beating anyone at this point so the USA is just going to have to come out focused and play at a high level no matter who it is we’re facing.

 

Will it be easy to get back on the same page on July 28, given the fact that you’ve all played together in the past?

Yes, I think so. Even though our training camps were spaced out, I think now that everyone who will be at this camp is on the team, it will bring a different level of focus and a different level of togetherness. Everyone will put more of an effort of really trying to get to know their teammates because we know what’s ahead. We know the amount of time that we have to prepare going into the Olympics. You’re going to see our intensity, you’re going to see our drive and our focus all at an elevated level.

 

2008 U.S. Women’s Olympic Team Roster

 

NO NAME                             POS       HGT    WNBA TEAM         SCHOOL                  HOMETOWN

5      Seimone Augustus          F            6-1      Minnesota              Louisiana State        Baton Rouge, LA

6      Sue Bird                        G           5-9      Seattle                   Connecticut             Syosset, NY

10    Tamika Catchings           F            6-0      Indiana                  Tennessee               Duncanville, TX

13    Sylvia Fowles                 C           6-6      Chicago                 Louisiana State        Miami, FL

7      Kara Lawson                  G           5-9      Sacramento           Tennessee               Alexandria, VA

9      Lisa Leslie                      C           6-5      Los Angeles            Southern Cal           Hawthorne, CA

8      DeLisha Milton-Jones  F            6-1     Los Angeles         Florida                   Riceboro, GA

15    Candace Parker             F/C/G     6-4      Los Angeles            Tennessee               Naperville, IL

4      Cappie Pondexter           G           5-9      Phoenix                 Rutgers                   Chicago, IL

14    Katie Smith                    G           5-11    Detroit                   Ohio State               Logan, OH

12    Diana Taurasi                G/F         6-0      Phoenix                 Connecticut             Chino, CA

11    Tina Thompson              F            6-2      Houston                 Southern Cal           Los Angeles, CA

 

Head Coach: Anne Donovan

Assistant Coach: Gail Goestenkors, University of Texas

Assistant Coach: Dawn Staley, University of South Carolina

Assistant Coach: Mike Thibault, Connecticut Sun

Team Physician: Sheldon Burns, Minnesota Lynx

Athletic Trainer: Ed Ryan, Colorado Springs, Colo.

 

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