The USA women’s basketball team has been on a tear so far during the 2012 London Olympics.
They’ve played two games against Croatia and Angola and are yet to really be tested by either team.
During the first game, Croatia kept it semi-close throughout the first three quarters and was only down by six points entering the fourth. Team USA completely dominated the fourth quarter, however, and went on to finish the game with a 25-point victory.
Team USA played much better the second game. Versus Angola, the USA won every quarter by double-digits en route to a 90-38 victory. The most points they allowed in a single quarter that game was only 12.
The United States must stay strong, though, if they want to leave London with a gold medal, because the competition will only get stronger. They still have yet to play Australia, Russia or the Czech Republic, who are currently ranked two, three and four in the world, respectively.
Here are the most important players moving forward for Team USA to ensure they win a gold medal.
9.0 PPG, 3.0 APG, 1.0 RPG
Lindsay Whalen is the sixth woman on this team.
During both games, she has played the most minutes off the bench for Team USA. She is the only player to come off the bench for Team USA and play in 20-plus minutes in a game.
Whalen has been a very efficient scorer so far. She is shooting 72.7 percent from the field since the majority of her shots have been very close to the basket.
Moving forward, Team USA will need her to keep up her very impressive play off the bench if they want to win.
7.0 PPG, 3.5 APG, 0.5 SPG
Diana Taurasi has really struggled so far during the Olympics. It hasn’t mattered yet against the two teams they’ve faced, but against better competition, they will need her to step up her game.
Taurasi’s shot has been off. She’s shot a ton of threes so far (six in the first game and five in the second game), but has only connected on two for a three-point average of just 18.1 percent. Overall she’s shooting just 26.7 percent from the field, which can’t be tolerated for a starting player.
She has also been playing awful defense during this tournament. Even though she’s guarding players who clearly aren’t up to her skill level, she still only has one steal during the Olympics.
The one bright spot in her game is that she is second on the team in assists with seven.
Taurasi will really need to improve her play, since she will most likely still start for the remainder of the Olympics.
10.0 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 2.0 SPG
Tina Charles has been one of Team USA’s best defenders so far during the tournament. She has recorded multiple blocks and at least one steal in both games.
She has also been a tenacious rebounder and is second on the team with eight rebounds per game. Charles has also been attacking the offensive glass and is tied for first on the team in offensive rebounds per game with three.
To go along with her great defense and rebounding, Charles has also been one of the more productive scorers on the team. She has taken the second most shots on the team (17) and is shooting 47 percent from the field.
Team USA needs her to keep up her defense and rebounding even more than her scoring throughout the remainder of the Olympics.
4.5 PPG, 5.0 APG, 2.0 RPG
Sue Bird is one of the oldest members of the team and has earned the right to be the captain after helping Team USA win gold in both Athens in 2004 and Beijing in 2008.
Bird has led the team in minutes during both games. She controls the offense for the team and makes sure everyone else is doing their job correctly.
She has also led the team in assists during both games, which makes up for her lack of scoring. While she is averaging five assists per game, she is only shooting 33.3 percent from the field and, even worse, only 14.2 percent from three.
As long as Bird controls the game and keeps distributing the ball the way she has been, though, she will still be the leader of this team and one of the most important players.
12.5 PPG, 12.5 RPG, 3.0 BPG
Candace Parker is by far the most dominant player on the court at all times.
When she gets the ball down low, no one can stop her. She is the team’s leading scorer at 12.5 points per game and is shooting 52.3 percent from the field.
Parker is also all over the glass. She is the only player who grabbed double-digit rebounds in both games, including five offensive rebounds in the game against Croatia.
She has also controlled the paint on the defensive end for Team USA. Parker has recorded six blocks so far in the tournament, which leads the team, and is more than 35 percent of the team’s total blocks.
This team will go as far as Candice Parker takes them, making her the most important player moving forward.