By Alisha Tatham
When Canadians look ahead to the women’s basketball tournament in Rio, they probably think: No problem. After all, Canada beat the U.S. in thrilling fashion to win the gold medal at the 2015 Pan Am Games.
But that U.S. team is not the same one Canada will face this summer. Rather, the group headed to this year’s Games is said to be the most powerful ever assembled—some folks are even calling them the women’s Dream Team.
The U.S. comes packed with experience in tri-captains Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi and Tamika Catchings, all playing in their fourth Olympics. They also boast plenty of talented youth, with the No. 1 pick in the 2016 WNBA Draft, Breanna Stewart, 2015’s WNBA MVP Elena Delle Donne and the WNBA’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2014 and 2015, powerhouse Brittney Griner. Their head coach, Geno Auriemma, is coming off a perfect NCAA season with the UConn Huskies.
There’s an unmistakable aura of confidence about this team. They’re tough and edgy, but also likely to entertain with crafty moves to the basket, no-look passes and quite possibly the odd dunk—several of these players can throw down. And then there’s their legacy: With the U.S. having won six straight gold medals in women’s basketball and riding a 41-game win streak at the Games, this year’s team has a lot to live up to. They look more than capable of doing so.
Alisha Tatham played for the Canadian women’s basketball team at the 2012 London Olympics.