US National Team Overwhelms the Competition

A monster basketball team is on the loose, shredding some of America's best college squads. The players, members of the USA Basketball Women's National Team (the Olympic team-in-waiting) have signed tons of autographs during a nationwide tour of 20 exhibition games that concludes Feb. 3 in Lubbock, Texas.

Like the men's Dream Teams, which have defended United States basketball honor in the Olympics and world championship, this is a collection of superstars. Most are seasoned pros who have played overseas and are now getting a chance to show off their considerable skills at home in a long, corporately sponsored tune-up for next summer's Centennial Olympics in Atlanta.

To date, the team has beaten all 11 of its college opponents by an average of 41.4 points. Next up is George Washington University in Washington, D.C., tonight, with top-ranked Louisiana Tech scheduled Jan. 30. Its Feb. 3 game against Texas Tech will be on ESPN; ABC will air two nontour games, April 6 and June 15.

Here's how the team stacks up:

Tara VanDerveer, Coach

(Indiana U. '75), most recently head coach at Stanford University.

Jennifer Azzi, No. 8

Guard - 5 ft., 8 in.

College: Stanford U. '90

Hometown: Oak Ridge, Tenn.

Pro career: Four seasons in Europe. Has played in Sweden, Italy, and France.

Notes: The US squad reunites her with Katy Steding, a teammate on Stanford's 1990 national champions, and college coach Tara VanDerveer. Azzi was an alternate on the 1992 Olympic team.

Ruthie Bolton, No. 6

Guard - 5 ft., 8 in.

College: Auburn (Ala.) U. '90

Hometown: McClain, Miss.

Pro career: First American woman to play professionally in Hungary and Sweden. Most recently has spent three seasons in Italy.

Notes: A first lieutenant in the US Army Reserves. She is an avid singer and one of 20 children of Rev. Linwood Bolton and the late Leola Bolton.

Teresa Edwards, No. 4

Guard - 5 ft., 11 in.

College: U. of Georgia '86

Hometown: Atlanta

Pro career: Nine seasons overseas, divided among Italy, Japan, Spain, and France.

Notes: The first US basketball player, male or female, to compete in three Olympics. The 1996 Games will fall more than a decade after she was the youngest member of the 1984 gold-medal US team.

Lisa Leslie, No. 9

Forward - 6 ft., 5 in.

College: U. of Southern California '94

Hometown: Hawthorne, Calif.

Pro career: Played in Italy last season.

Notes: Tallest player on the US team and its leading scorer. A part-time runway model with ambitions to be a broadcaster. Scored 101 points in one half of a high school game.

Rebecca Lobo, No. 13

Forward - 6 ft., 4 in.

College: U. of Connecticut '95

Hometown: Southwick, Mass.

Pro career: Went directly from college to US national team.

Notes: Academic All-American of the Year for the 1994-95 college season. Nicknamed ''Rookie'' by members of the national team.

Katrina McClain, No. 12

Forward - 6 ft., 2 in.

College: U. of Georgia '87

Hometown: Atlanta

Pro career: Played for teams in Japan, Italy, and Spain during seven years overseas.

Notes: Reportedly turned down a $300,000 offer to play in Europe to join the national team. Played on the 1988 and '92 US Olympic squads, which won gold and bronze medals, respectively. Looks forward to playing alongside friend and former college teammate Teresa Edwards in their hometown, Atlanta, during next summer's Olympics.

Nikki McCray, No. 15

Guard - 5 ft., 11 in.

College: U. of Tennessee '95

Hometown: Memphis

Pro career: Went directly from college to US national team.

Notes: A talented singer, she performed the national anthem before several college sporting events. Became engaged at center court before 6,000 spectators after the national team's recent game in Knoxville, Tenn.

Carla McGhee, No. 10

Center - 6 ft., 2 in.

College: U. of Tennessee '90

Hometown: Stone Mountain, Ga.

Pro career: Has played for teams in Germany, Italy, Spain, and France during five years in Europe.

Notes: A 1987 car crash forced her to take a year off from basketball. Graduated from college with honors in sports management.

Dawn Staley, No. 5

Guard - 5 ft., 6 in.

College: U. of Virginia '92

Hometown: Philadelphia

Pro career: In three seasons has played in Spain, Italy, France, and Brazil.

Notes: The shortest player on the US team. Snaps a rubber band on her wrist as a form of self-inflicted punishment every time she commits a turnover (losing the ball to the other team).

Katy Steding, No. 11

Forward - 6 ft.

College: Stanford U. '90

Hometown: Tualatin, Ore.

Pro career: Three years in Japan, one in Spain.

Notes: Was an Olympic team alternate in 1992. Has started a series of girls' basketball camps run exclusively by women in the Portland, Ore., area.

Sheryl Swoopes, No. 7

Guard - 6 ft.

College: Texas Tech U. '93

Hometown: Lubbock, Texas

Pro career: Played 10 games in the Italian league during 1993-94 season.

Notes: Has had a sneaker named for her, Nike Air Swoopes. Led Texas Tech to a national championship in 1993, two years after being the Junior College Player of the Year.

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