The Senior Women's National Team has been playing some really good ball through the Olympic Tournament. Despite what their 2-2 record may indicate, the SWNT have played strong ball in the games they've won and kept the games really close in the games they've lost. A couple of buckets here and there could have been the difference between their current record or being undefeated and if they were sporting a doughnut in the loss column, would the team have been talked about as a medal favorite? Can Ball Ray ponders this idea here and gives his two loonies on it ...
The Senior Women's National Team won their game yesterday against Brazil, narrowly might I add, 79-73 to put themselves into the quarter finals of the Olympics. That puts them at 2-2 on the tournament and means that they have a shot at a medal. However minuscule that possibility might be, they are still in the running for a medal.
And that thought actually brought something to my mind as I was conversing with some people on Twitter: If Canada was 4-0 would they have been talked about as actual medal contenders?
Think about that for a second. Could our SWNT have been thought about as one of the three teams that could have been standing at the podium receiving a medal if they had a better record?
My thought is a resounding "Hell yeah!!!"
Canada has won against the host team, Great Britain, who is ranked 49th according to FIBA rankings but that doesn't really mean much when they are the home team in any game they play. Canada has also beat Brazil, who is ranked 6th according to the same FIBA rankings for women. Though not blowout wins, both victories were earned in very hard fought games for a combined point differential of 14.
The two losses the SWNT have on their record come at the hands of Russia (ranked 3rd) and France (ranked 8th). The combined point differential here is smaller than in the wins totalling nine points. Both aforementioned teams have been strong in the tournament and both teams were held to poor shooting from the floor (Russia was held to 34% and France 35%) and held below their tournament scoring averages (Russia is averaging 65 points, France 73).
In fact, as a point of fact, Canada has held every team they've face below 40% from the floor and have been playing incredible defence. And this is all while playing in the tougher of the two groups in Olympic play.
The SWNT have had their issue with closing out games but they have really hung in to keep the games close to the wire. A few bounces here, a couple of made free throws there or an untimely turnover could really be the difference between being 2-2 and undefeated heading into tomorrow's game against Australia.
If you take a look at the individual players on the team, you can't say that the success has been due to one or two particular players. The entire team has been contributing on all ends and you can go through the individual stats and game boxscores to get your answer: There are seven players that have scored 20 or more total points, two of them have scored 50 or more; six have reached double digit total rebounds; three have dished out ten or more assists; nine of the twelve players have played at least 60 minutes. What that all amounts to is a total team effort. Any player can burn you with something at any given time.
I think those two losses should have warranted some respect from the teams in this tournament seeing as how almost every other team has a few high level pros on their rosters. Canada doesn't have that luxury but the talent is very good and for this team very deep. So deep that inside/outside player Michelle Plouffe has yet to play and pros Miranda Ayim and Alisha Tatham have been playing sparingly. Heading into a game against a very good Australia team that features WNBA star Lauren Jackson and dunking phenom Liz Cambage, Canada has a very good shot at coming away with a W.
So I ask again, if Canada had a better record would they be strong candidates for a medal?
I would think a resounding yes is the answer I'm thinking and I'm sure that coming away with the win over the Aussies would help the cause right now too. I think right now they are being seen as a potential spoiler for other teams and I think that this plays well into their hands.
They had said all along that they would surprise some people in London and I think the best surprising is yet to come.
Remember that our SWNT will be facing Australia Sunday morning beginning at 9:30am EDT to close out group play.