US women's basketball team selected; Lieberman quits
Despite President Carter's opposition to the Moscow Olympics, the selection of US teams has not been halted. Only last week the US Olympic Committee named 12 players to the women's basketball team. The tallest of these, 6 ft. 8 in. Anne Donovan of Paramus, N.J., could help the United States close the gap with the powerful Soviet team, whether in Moscow or elsewhere.
After losing the first women's basketball game ever played in the Olympics, four years ago, the Americans regrouped to win the silver medal. But they were no match for the champion Soviets, who rolled over the US 112- 77 en route to the gold. While Coach Billie Moore's team had plenty of heart, it lacked the height to seriously challenge the Soviets and their seven-foot center, Iuliyaka Semenova. "Right now I would say the gap is about 11 inches," Moore said when asked the difference between the US and Soviet teams at Montreal.
Though Donovan has none of Semenova's heft, she is a prolific rebounder, grabbing an average of almost 14 rebounds per game for Old Dominion this past season. The most heavily recruited schoolgirl in the nation last year, she joined forces with All-Americas Nancy Lieberman and Inge Nissen to make national Champion ODU the dominant power in the nation's collegiate game.
Even if the Olympic team is one in name only, the squad will get a chance to exhibit its skills in games agains the all-stars of the professional Women's Basketball League, first in Chicago on April 19, then in New York two nights later. Some spectators may be surprised at the height of the women Olympians, who count five 6-footers among their ranks, not including Donovan. They are 6-5 Cindy Noble of Tennessee, 6 3 1/2 Kris Kirchner of Maryland, 6-3 Jill Rankin of Tennessee, 6-1 Denise Curry of UCLA, and 6-1 Rosie Walker of Stephen F. Austin.
A notable absentee from the Olympic roster will be Lieberman, who quit the team in support of the President's boycott of the games. A two-time winner of the Wade Trophy as the nation's top female player, she had played on the '76 squad as a 16-year-old high- schooler off the playgrounds of New York. A tenacious 5-10 guard, Lieberman led the country in steals this past season and her team to a 74-2 record over the last two yeas.
The women's pro league no doubt considers the Olympic boycott a real blow to its future. The games would have been an excellent showcase for talent the Women's Basketball League hopes to sign after the Olympics. And at this stage of its young history, the league needs "name" players with drawing power.