Lacy lands final spot on roster for Olympics Ex-La. Tech star picked over UConn's Wolters

June 17, 1996|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,SUN STAFF

CHICAGO -- The formal announcement yesterday of the U.S. Olympic women's basketball team was, in large part, a foregone conclusion.

After all, USA Basketball, the body that organizes this country's international efforts, had assembled an 11-member squad that had gone undefeated in a 51-game tour against collegiate and international competition. Any derivation from that list would have been a shock.

The only thing left to be decided was the identity of the last team member, and although center Venus Lacy had been playing with the team for the past three weeks, she was still thrilled to get the nod at a team dinner Saturday night.

"I did not want them to slide a piece of paper [a rejection slip] under my door," said Lacy, sporting an ear-to-ear grin. "It felt good being in that room."

Lacy, a two-time conference Player of the Year in 1989-90 at Louisiana Tech, nudged out Connecticut senior Kara Wolters, the center on the Huskies' unbeaten 1995 national championship team, largely because of her six years of international experience and her tenacity, in the view of the 13-member USA Basketball committee.

"We needed a center and someone who could mix it up and be physical," said coach Tara VanDerveer. "Venus fits in very well with the 11 players we have, and she'll really help us with her physical play and international experience."

Of the 12 players on the Olympic squad, all but two, Tennessee's Nikki McCray and Connecticut's Rebecca Lobo, each just a year removed from college, have played extensively overseas, and the difference in experience has been noticeable.

"It was challenging to see that level of talent in practice," said Lobo, the 1995 national Player of the Year. "Sometimes, it was discouraging, but it was always good to be around teammates and people who were encouraging to me."

Because of the team's high talent level and its unbeaten record, there's the perception that the Olympic team is an overwhelming favorite to capture the gold medal, which has eluded this country since 1988.

"We've brought women's basketball to another level, but that's not all we want. We want the gold medal," said guard Ruthie Bolton.

Besides Lobo, McCray and Lacy, seven other members of the team are first-time Olympians, including former Virginia guard Dawn Staley, who narrowly missed the cut in 1992.

$

U.S. women's team

Player .. .. .. ..Pos. .. .. .. .. .College

Jennifer Azzi .. ..G .. .. .. .. ...Stanford

Ruthie Bolton .. ..G .. .. .. .. ...Auburn

Teresa Edwards .. .G .. .. .. .. ...Georgia

Venus Lacy .. .. ..C .. .. .. .. ...La. Tech

Lisa Leslie .. .. .F . .. .. .. .. .USC

Rebecca Lobo .. ...F ... .. .. .. ..Conn.

Katrina McClain ...F .. .. .. .. ...Georgia

Nikki McCray .. ...G .. .. .. .. ...Tenn.

Carla McGhee .. ...C .. .. .. .. ...Tenn.

Dawn Staley .. .. .G .. .. .. .. ...Virginia

Katy Steding .. ...F .. .. .. .. ...Stanford

Sheryl Swoopes .. .G .. .. .. .. ...Tex. Tech

Pub Date: 6/17/96

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