Return now to '05 …
The roots of the 12-player roster announced Monday for the U.S. men's basketball team took hold in Chicago three years ago.
One year after the United States' disappointing bronze medal in Athens, the team's new managing director, Jerry Colangelo, called a meeting of prominent basketball minds. "We shared our frustrations and dreams, and out of that came a very different selection process," Colangelo said in Chicago.
Attempting to mirror other countries' national teams, many of which play together for years, Colangelo and coach Mike Krzyzewski stressed long-term commitments. The NBA players willing to give them resulted in a roster of guards Kobe Bryant, Jason Kidd, Chris Paul, Michael Redd, Dwayne Wade and Deron Williams, forwards Carmelo Anthony, Carlos Boozer, Chris Bosh, LeBron James and Tayshaun Prince and center Dwight Howard.
Anthony, Boozer, James and Wade watched Argentina win the gold in '04. Half the Olympians played in the 2006 world championships, in which Greece upset the United States in the semis. Eight participated in last year's Americas Championship, in which the Americans won all 10 games to qualify for Beijing.
"It's a totally different culture from 2004, where we were thrown together for a week and a half and went out there and played," Wade said.
The team reports Friday for a Las Vegas minicamp.
IOC: A ban is a ban
Defending 100-meter champion Justin Gatlin, right, who's serving a four-year doping ban, can't compete at Beijing, no matter what a Pensacola federal judge rules, the International Olympic Committee says.
Agreeing are the U.S. Olympic Committee, USA Track and Field and the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. Nine of their lawyers were in Pensacola on Monday to try to convince U.S. District Judge Lacey A. Collier that he doesn't have the authority to override the ban, recently upheld by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Collier issued a temporary restraining order Friday that would allow Gatlin to compete at the Olympic trials, which begin Friday in Eugene, Ore. Gatlin would have to finish in the top three to make the team. Collier heard arguments Monday; no timetable was set for a decision.
Soccer team goes Solo
Nine months after she was kicked off the U.S. women's soccer team at the World Cup for criticizing the coach, goalie Hope Solo was among 18 players picked for the Olympic team by a different coach.
Briana Scurry, below, who replaced Solo for last year's 4-0 Cup semifinal loss to Brazil, was left off the roster by coach Pia Sundhage, who replaced Greg Ryan after that debacle.
Solo was the starter for most of '07, but Ryan surprisingly replaced her with Scurry for the semi. Solo went public with her anger, saying she would have made the saves, and was dropped from the team.
Nicole Barnhart will be Solo's backup. "Both Hope and Nicole, they're very good with their feet, and that's necessary the way we're playing right now," Sundhage said.
Scurry, 36, who had been on the roster for every major tournament since 1991, was "very professional" when told of the decision, Sundhage said.
Half the roster was part of the gold medal-winning '04 team, including former Gators Heather Mitts and Abby Wambach. Defenders Christie Rampone and Kate Markgraf will be in their third Olympics.
Softball team steamrolls on
Monica Abbott pitched a no-hitter with 15 strikeouts, Crystl Bustos and Stacey Nuveman hit three-run homers, and the U.S. Olympic team tuned up for Beijing with a 20-0 win over a Mid-American Conference All-Star team Monday in Ashland, Ohio. The Americans, seeking a fourth straight gold medal, improved to 49-1 on their pre-Games tour. They posted their 41st shutout and have outscored opponents 571-26.