The American team is deep, with ten Olympians from 2012 returning, but now that three-time Olympic winner Tamika Catchings has withdrawn due to back and neck pains, it does open up a spot for an up-and-coming youngster.
But that's micro. Let's go macro and answer the question on everyone’s mind. When are we going to see more women dunk? According to Brian Palmer, it’s not so much that women are about 7” shorter than men; it’s that their vertical jump isn’t dunk worthy. American basketball college girls, for example, can jump, on average, about 19” - a long way off the 28” men can do.
Anyway, 16 teams, including number 1 ranked USA and number 9 ranked Canada, will round robin it with the other teams. Turkey is ranked 13th – but having the home crowd will either boost or break them.
The October 5th final will be played in the pretty-close-to-brand-spanking-new Ülker Sports Arena which was built in 2012. For sport and language wonks here’s the full name in Turkish: Fenerbahçe Uluslararası Spor Kompleksi Ülker Spor Arena.
Any which way you slice it and say it, 13,800 fans can cram the stadium to check out the best...
To best help grow the game, a full-fare ticket, which will get you into two games, will cost “10 to 35 Turkish Lira (€4 to €14) for the Group Phase and for the Qualifications for Quarter-Finals games...” For the quarters, semis, or finals you’ll pay “...from 20 to 100 Turkish Lira (€8 to €40)." So we’re talking US $5.32 to $53.2
While Turkish women don’t earn many Lira, Euros, or Dollars and suffer from low labor participation compared to their European counterparts - and don’t stack up well economically with their competitors according to OECD statistics - their women’s basketball league and national team are competitive as evidenced by their respectable finishing of fifth, at the 2012 London Olympics, and their silver medal win in the 2011 EuroBasket tournament.
Coach Ceyhun Yildizoglu is pleased with his team’s preparation.
While the FIBA 2010 World Basketball Championship sported some pretty lopsided scores, no less than USA CEO Jim Tooley figures his veteran team will have a tougher go this time around.
Given that the States has won 8 of the 16 Championships, with Russia another 6 and Brazil and Australia 1 each, it would be great to get some new-winner blood into the mix.
Basketball, globally, is growing, if not in leaps in bounds, at least in high jumps. As far back as 2007, 450 million souls were either shirking homework or shunning work, shooting hoops.
And outside of those who play in the American WNBA, or those who go for bucks in European or Asian leagues, international tests like this are the big deal. (Currently, sadly, with the Greek, Italian, and Spanish economies in dire straits, women basketball jobs there are dwindling and salaries are, not surprisingly, shrinking.)
One other worry about the women’s game is the lack of quantity and quality of offensive finishes. Columnist Paul Nilsen attributes it to coaches stressing too much defense - zone defense - with the attendant lack of time to create offensive ingenuity and fluidity. Nevertheless, many women can pull up and shoot the three, or drive to the basket, with the best of the men. And all women - and men - should aspire to the greatness that was Ann Meyers Drysdale, the American UCLA Bruin who made a QUADRUPLE-DOUBLE of 20 points, 10 steals, 10 assists, and 14 rebounds. She was the first to do so in Division 1 NCAA basketball.
For this championship the ladies’ ages basically range from the late teens to early thirties. Although, get this, South Korea’s team has a High schooler, Park Ji-soo, who is just fifteen. She’s 6’5”. (Heights average around 5’ 10.”)
But no matter the age, no matter the height, no matter the anything, for any team at this level to be successful their twelve players have to play for the name on the front of the jersey, not the name on the back.
Nevriye Yılmaz, the 34-year-old Bulgarian-born Turkish captain, epitomizes the team-first credo. A team can’t rally late in a game without spark, grit, and excellence and Turkey proved it can summon all three as they stormed back in the fourth quarter to beat Australia in the tune-up Zafer Cup. The 6’4” Yilmaz poured in 32 points.
Let’s take a step back. If you remember back in 1953 when American president Harry S. Truman spilled the beans that that country created a hydrogen bomb, you’ll probably remember the explosion heard far and wide when folks learned that this was the year the FIBA Women’s basketball wing-ding came into being.
Anyway, Chile was the host. Ten countries took part and the States won.
Undoubtedly the FIBA wants women’s basketball to “win” – they've got a stop clock on their website ticking off the time until it starts Sept. 27th, but many of the videos on that first screen deal with the draw for the 2014 event. The draw is, was, and forever will be, not only anti-climactic; it’s bureaucratic. It’s not dramatic. Come up with more stellar stuff.
For sure the women basketballers will.