This July, Elena Delle Donne will make another homecoming return to the University of Delaware. But, this time, she’s bringing Team USA with her, as they get ready to take off for Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and the 2016 Summer Olympic Games.
The Bob Carpenter Center in Newark will be the first stop for the 2016 USA Basketball Showcase, featuring not only the USA Basketball Women’s National Team, but the teams from Australia, Canada and France as well.
“The Delaware Sport Commission is excited about the opportunity to work with USA Basketball again and further strengthen our relationship with the U.S. Olympic Movement,” said DSC Chairman Matthew Robinson. “This is also a great opportunity for the state to receive national and international exposure. The DSC, UD Athletics and Gene Delle Donne worked with USA Basketball throughout the spring to get it done. It was a true team effort.”
While hosting the showcase will hold its fair share of benefits for both the state and the University of Delaware, perhaps the bigger news for local hoops fans is the opportunity to see Elena Delle Donne — a former Blue Hen and Ursuline Academy grad — back on her home court once again.
In preparation for this year’s WNBA season, the reigning WNBA MVP recently led the Chicago Sky to a 93-59 persuasion victory over the New York Liberty on May 1, in front of a packed house at “The Bob.”
“Most importantly, it is great that Elena Delle Donne will have the chance to play before her Delaware family, before chasing her dream of winning gold at the Rio Games,” Robinson continued.
The stop at UD is scheduled to kick off the showcase on Wednesday, July 27, featuring games between No. 2-ranked Australia and 2015 FIBA Americas Championship gold medalist Canada at 5 p.m.
The main event gets under way at 7:30 p.m., with a matchup between Team USA and France.
After that, the showcase will head north before they head south to Rio, with stops scheduled at the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, Conn., on Friday, July 29, and Madison Square Garden in New York, N.Y., on Sunday, July 31.
“This tournament with three of the [other] top teams in the world is an incredible opportunity for our team to prepare for Rio,” said USA head coach Geno Auriemma. “I think each of these games will be competitive and be a really, really good preview of what you’ll see in August at the Olympics. I’m excited about getting our team together. I think they will show the fans something special in each of these three games.”
In addition to Delle Donne, other players to watch include three-time gold medalists and captains Sue Bird (Seattle Storm), Tamika Catchings (Indiana Fever) and Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury).
Delle Donne will be one of three players going for their first gold medal when the 2016 Summer Olympic Games get under way in Rio de Janeiro on Aug. 5, joining 2013 No. 1 pick Brittney Griner (Phoenix Mercury) and 2016 No. 1 pick Breanna Stewart (University of Connecticut).
Since the USA Basketball Women’s National Team program began in 1995, the team has collected a record seven gold medals, one silver and one bronze.
For more information or tickets on the 2016 USA Basketball Showcase, visit www.usab.com/showcase.