What one does find when it comes to the USA is a healthy desire to take on the best the world has to offer. Geno Auriemma, who has led the American team to back-to-back world titles and also steered the program to a fifth consecutive Olympic gold medal in 2012, craves good competition. He thinks his squad is going to face it at the Rio de Janeiro Games.
The USA will take on EuroBasket Women champions Serbia and FIBA Americas Championship winners Canada, along with AfroBasket Women champions Senegal in Group B. There will also be a couple of solid teams that come out of the FIBA Women's Olympic Qualifying Tournament (WOQT) to take on the USA in the Preliminary Round.
There are good teams in Group A, including probably the biggest threat to USA supremacy, Australia. FIBA Asia Women Championship winners Japan and hosts Brazil are in the group, while three WOQT teams will also join.
You know, I don't think you can say that one group is stronger than the other. I think we'll have five very good opponents once we know who the last two teams are. But just looking at the three we know today, we’re going to have some tough competition right off the bat. - Auriemma
Auriemma and the USA, in fact, already have a lot of knowledge about the Serbians and Canadians, teams that have faced in recent times. The USA beat Canada in the Quarter-Finals of the 2012 Olympics, although the current Canada side is probably better.
It has, for example, one of Auriemma's players at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, Kia Nurse. The USA won a very awkward game against a fearless Serbia at the 2014 FIBA Women's World Championship.
Serbia kept the momentum going with a title-winning performance at the EuroBasket Women that was staged in Romania and Hungary. They defeated a very good France squad in the Final.
Serbia shocked a lot of people last summer by winning the European championship and Canada's team has been getting better and better. It doesn't really matter who we have to play, however, because if you want to win the gold medal you have to go through all of the best teams to earn that top spot. - Auriemma
The teams taking part in the WOQT are Cameroon, Nigeria, Argentina, Cuba, Venezuela, China, Korea, Belarus, France, Spain, Turkey and New Zealand. That tournament is to be staged 13-19 June in Nantes, France.
The biggest drama right now for the USA is the issue of squad selection. Getting a final 12 will be extremely difficult.