July 24, 2021
A guide to the Inaugural 3×3 and Stefanie Dolson
Sky center Dolson is part of new Olympic "exciting, urban and innovative" event
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Hey…wanna make history with The Next this weekend?
Join the night owls and early morning risers witnessing history as Team USA’s 3×3 Women’s Basketball team play their first match against No. 1 seed France on Saturday, July 24 at 3:55 am CT, at Aomi Sports Park in Tokyo.
If you do, you’re in for a fast-paced, innovative, half-court game set to an urban beat, featuring the best of the WNBA in Chicago Sky center Stefanie Dolson, Dallas Wings guard Allisha Gray, Las Vegas Aces guards Kelsey Plum and Jackie Young, who replaced former Chicago Sky first-round pick Katie Lou Samuelson, now with the Seattle Storm. Samuelson was placed under USA Basketball’s health and safety protocols and is unable to play during the July 23-28 tournament.
Dolson’s selection marks a year of change for the 6’5, 210-pound 29-year-old, who lost more than 30 pounds since last season by “watching my diet, cutting down on my drinking and increasing my workouts.”
She was motivated by the prospect of turning 30 in 2022.
She’s made the most of her 29th year, the results are evident this season in a lighter, faster and more productive Dolson.
(Credit: Team USA)
In the qualifying tournament against Belarus, the U.S. led 19-13 as the game entered the final minute. Dolson made the final basket to reach the 21-point threshold.
Dolson is 42-3 in all-time with USA Basketball, including five-on-five and 3×3. According to USA basketball, she first played with the USA National Team in 2013 as a college student and since then has been on (six) five-on-five national team rosters between the 2019 FIBA AmeriCup and exhibition games. She won gold medals with USA Basketball junior national teams at the 2010 FIBA Americas U18 Championship and the 2011 FIBA U19 World Cup and winning the 2013 and 2014 NCAA National Championships at UConn.
Kara Lawson, Team USA’s coach, said Dolson’s improvement has benefitted their team.
“It’s changed how much of a weapon she is for us out on the court,” Lawson told the Chicago Tribune in a video conference call last week. “She’s obviously 6-5 and is a dominant presence, but she moves much better. She can guard guards in 3×3 for us.”
Dolson took the compliment with a dash of humility.
“I was really excited, they have a lot of belief in me,” Dolson said. “3×3 isn’t always seen as a game where you have a ‘big’ on the team, but I’m mobile and can shoot the ball. I’m proud of myself for making the qualifying team, but also honored that they named me to the team.”
How to watch: Get up early!
Part of the thrill of the 3×3 format according to Team USA’s website is that it moves so fast, no lead ever seems safe. Each team shoots into a single hoop. With only 10 minutes per game, a half-court and a 12-second shot clock, anything can happen. If a team reaches 21 points before 10 minutes, wins.
If you can’t wake up, never fear! Another perk is that multiple games can be played on the same day. After playing France, the U.S. plays Mongolia at 6 a.m.CDT/7 a.m. EDT. On July 25, the USA will play Romania at 4:30 a.m. and Russian Olympic Committee at 8:25 a.m. On July 26 the USA will meet Italy at 4:55 a.m. and China at 8 a.m., and the final preliminary contest will be against host Japan at 12:30 a.m. on July 27.
The top two teams after the preliminary round earn a berth into the semifinals, while the third through sixth place teams meet in semifinal play-in games.
The seventh and eighth place teams after the preliminary round end their Olympic play.