February 19, 2024 

Locked On Women’s Basketball: Breaking down Team USA’s Olympic qualifier in Belgium

An electric crowd in Belgium and dominant performances from Napheesa Collier

In the latest episode of Locked On Women’s Basketball, Howard Megdal welcomes the Olympic Channel’s Maggie Hendricks to discuss Team USA’s performance at one of the Olympic Qualifying Tournaments earlier this month. Hendricks was in Antwerp, Belgium, to see Team USA go 3-0 in the tournament, with a two-point win over Belgium and dominant victories over Nigeria and Senegal.

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Hendricks talks about the atmosphere for the USA-Belgium game, with a sellout crowd of 13,700 setting an attendance record for women’s team sports in the country:

“[The crowd] was entirely pro-Belgium. … It wasn’t an anti-USA atmosphere, to be clear; it was just super pro-Belgian. And, I mean, from the second the Belgian players walked onto the court, [the fans] started going nuts for them. They were all decked out in their black, red and gold and yelling at every second. … It was an incredible environment to be in. But it couldn’t have been easy for the U.S. to play in. … It was probably 13,650 [fans who] were for Belgium.”

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Megdal then asked Hendricks whether she believes Napheesa Collier‘s big role in this tournament will continue for Team USA. The Minnesota Lynx forward averaged 19.0 points, 4.7 rebounds, 3.7 steals and 3.0 assists per game and was named to the tournament’s All-Star Five. Here’s Hendricks’ response:

“I absolutely think that’s where Phee is going to be. And there’s a few reasons for that. No. 1, obviously, she knows what [Team USA and Lynx head coach] Cheryl Reeve wants better than most of the other players on the team. … But beyond that, I think that something that’s important with Phee is both her youth and her maturity. …

“She’s very comfortable working with some of the older players who have been around. But then she mentioned in the press conference that she had also … been talking to [younger players] Rhyne Howard and Aliyah Boston about how to do this. … So I really think this is going to be an important year for Napheesa Collier.”

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