USA Olympic Women's Basketball Team: Players Who Must Step Up in Semifinal

John DornCorrespondent IIIAugust 8, 2012

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 05:  Maya Moore #7 of United States high fives Diana Taurasi #12 after defeating China in the Women's Basketball Preliminary Round match on Day 9 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Basketball Arena on August 5, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The United States women's basketball has been the wire-to-wire favorite to win the gold medal, and rightly so. The team has six former UConn Huskies and is coached by Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma. It's tough to beat chemistry like that.

The closest of their five preliminary round games was a real nail-biter: an 88-61 trounce over the Czech Republic. USA closed out prelim play by dropping 114 points on China, and beat Canada 91-48 in the quarterfinal round.

But believe it or not, there is still room left for improvement, and scarily enough, this team is yet to reach its full potential.

Diana Taurasi has been in a bit of a shooting funk for most of the Olympics. Before the August 5 game versus China, Taurasi was shooting just 10 of 34, about 29 percent from the field.

In the Americans' closest game, against the Czechs, Taurasi shot just 6-for-13 from the field.

Luckily for team USA, Taurasi shot at a clip of 80 percent versus the Chinese (8-for-10).

Then in the quarterfinal match versus Canada, Taurasi shot 5-for-7 (including one of two from three).

Taurasi's shot selection and execution will need to be better than the pre-China .294 field-goal percentage. It appears she's back on the right track and ready to lead the United States to be recognized as one of the best ever.

Maya Moore is a lights out three-point shooter. Her numbers prove that. She's shooting at 42.5 percent from three-point range this WNBA season for Minnesota, good for ninth in the league.

These London games, however, she's at just over 27 percent from three, or 5-for-18. Her first three-pointer didn't come until game No. 4 versus the Czechs, when she shot 2-for-7 from downtown—not a impressive percentage.

The same can be said for Sue Bird. In her 10 years with Seattle, she's averaged shooting 39 percent from long range. This Olympic Games, however, Bird is also shooting 5-for-18.

Once Moore and Bird can get her three-pointers falling like they know how—and how they've made names for themselves over the last decade—USA will appear to be a much more flawless squad.

It's important to note that team USA's flaws don't necessarily make them any less favored to win gold. They may play to half their capabilities and still bring home the gold medal with ease. 

This team, however, should have its sights set on a bigger prize—a more important one. That's to go down in the record book as the best Olympic basketball team to ever take part in the Games. 

The goal is within reach, now the U.S. women just need to make their adjustments and take what's theirs.