Associated Press, Published July 16 2012
Whalen leads US women to rout of BrazilWASHINGTON – Lindsay Whalen showed that the U.S. women’s Olympic basketball team has depth at point guard.
Whalen scored 21 points to lead the Americans to a 99-67 rout of Brazil on Monday night in an exhibition game. She started in place of Sue Bird, who left the team Sunday after the death of her stepfather Dennis.
“I wanted to come out and make sure we got some good looks, move the ball, be aggressive when the time presents itself,” Whalen said. “I think it was a good start for us.”
Bird practiced with the team last weekend and when she plans to rejoin the Olympic squad is unclear.
“I said take whatever amount of time you need, come back when you need to come back,” U.S. coach Geno Auriemma said. “She may or not play in the game in Manchester. She might meet us there or meet us in Istanbul, we’ll know” today.
Bird was the starting point guard on the 2008 team and also played on the 2004 team.
“It just goes to show we have really good depth,” Tamika Catchings said of Whalen’s play. “Lindsay did a really good job.”
Diana Taurasi added 16 points for the U.S. in her first action since missing the last month of the WNBA season while recovering from a variety of injuries. She hit her first few shots and ran the point when Whalen was out. Taurasi finished with seven assists, Whalen had five.
“It felt pretty good,” Taurasi said.
The team met with President Barack Obama in the locker room after the game. He arrived after their game had ended, just before the men’s game.
“The president is a huge basketball fan and everyone knows that,” Auriemma said. “He came in to congratulate the players and wish them luck. He spent a lot more time than he wanted to down there just being a regular guy.”
Obama sat courtside and watched the men’s team play Brazil in the second game of the doubleheader.
Whalen had 10 points and three assists in the first quarter to help the Americans jump out to a quick 13-2 lead. The U.S. led 27-14 after one period and built the advantage to 51-31 at the half. They coasted the rest of the way.
Iziane Castro Marques led Brazil with 21 points and Karla Costa added 19.
“We see this game as a preparation for the Olympics,” Castro Marques said. “We did our best. Did what we were supposed to do. I think our second half was much better.”
Several members of the USA team has dealt with injuries during the WNBA season.
One of them, Angel McCoughtry, was sidelined for the final few games of the first half of the season with a left knee sprain. She saw her first action against Brazil late in the third quarter. McCoughtry’s knee looked fine when she missed a dunk attempt late in the fourth quarter.
Asjha Jones, who injured her left ankle last Wednesday was the only U.S. player not to see time.
The Americans had a busy morning visiting Arlington National Cemetary. Auriemma, Catchings, Taurasi and Swin Cash placed a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Solider.
The U.S. women’s national team will head overseas to train in Manchester and Istanbul before getting to London on July 25. The Americans open up their Olympic play on July 28 against Croatia. Other teams in the Americans’ group are China, Angola, the Czech Republic and Turkey.
Brazil is in the other group with Australia, Russia, Britain, Canada and France.
The Americans have won the last four gold medals at the Olympics and boast a 33-game winning streak in Olympic play.