Basketball Australia have named a 20-player strong squad consisting of a host of current Opals in preparation for the 2015 World University Games being held from 3-12 June in South Korea.
The squad features 2014 FIBA World Championship bronze medalist Tessa Lavey who is also joined by current Opals Sara Blicavs, Madeleine Garrick, Alice Kunek and Stephanie Talbot; all of whom who are all currently on tour in Europe with the Opals as they build towards the 2015 FIBA Oceania series against New Zealand.
Building on what he refers to as his 'pyramid of depth', Opals and World University Games head coach Brendan Joyce was excited by the prospect of continuing to develop the foundations for Australian success on the world stage for many more years to come.
“We have a lot of youth but we have to create depth in the long-term for the Opals so it is a great opportunity for our younger players to get some international experience,” Joyce shared.
15 players in the squad were linked with WNBL teams in 2015, with Bec Cole's name still being listed despite suffering a devastating knee injury (ACL) during the past week that has subsequently ruled her out.
Fresno State's graduating senior Alex Sheedy was just one of 4 US-based college athletes selected to the squad, joined by Maddison Allen (Santa Clara), Vanessa Panousis (Virginia Tech) and Stephanie Collins (Southern Methodist). Such is the strength of the WNBL and the depth of the squad that has been named, it does not include a number of stand-out US college based talents who enjoyed big years. The likes of Alicia Froling (Southern Methodist), Kristy Wallace (Baylor), Stacey Barr (Idaho), Nicole Seekamp (South Dakota) and Funda Nakkasoglu (Utah State), to name just a few, were notably absent from the squad that was named.
Joyce continued to reinforce both his and Basketball Australia's commitment to investing in the next-generation of potential Opals, something that has been evident since he took on the role of Opals head coach.
“The biggest thing we want to get out of the Games is to expose the younger players to international competition and if European teams load up on some of their [Olympic calibre] players as they have in the past, it’s going to be a strong competition,” Joyce expressed.
“On top of that, we are aiming to medal.”
Australia has been grouped in Pool D and will take on Uganda, Brazil and Taipei during the group stage, of which, Brazil would be the only ones expected to provide any significant resistance. The Australian women commence their campaign on 5 July against Uganda.
With a long history of sustained success at the World University Games including gold in 2007 and bronze medals across the last 3 events, Australia is poised to once again be on the podium once again in 2015.
Australia women’s squad for the 2015 World University Games: Maddison Allen, Sara Blicavs, Alex Bunton, Aimee Clydesdale, Bec Cole, Stephanie Collins, Darcee Garbin, Madeleine Garrick, Kerryn Harrington, Alice Kunek, Tessa Lavey, Carley Mijovic, Vanessa Panousis, Mikayla Pirini, Casey Samuels, Lauren Scherf, Alex Sheedy, Steph Talbot, Olivia Thompson.