What's next for Team USA's backcourt?


COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Storm point guard Sue Bird has been part of the national team gatherings for many years, but it still strikes her at times that they don't happen nearly enough.
"I'm almost sad we don't get to do this more often," Bird said of the team training camp last weekend at South Carolina. "There's only so much you can communicate or talk about things in a few days. It would be cool to have that relationship grow even more. But it is what it is: That's USA Basketball."
Indeed, the logistical challenges are always there, so it's a matter of trying to make the most of what time is available to prepare for major international competitions. In this case, it's the FIBA World Cup -- formerly called the world championship -- set for Sept. 22-30 in Tenerife, Canary Islands.
Twenty-two players participated in the camp, which was held on South Carolina's campus and presided over by national team and Gamecocks coach Dawn Staley.
But four 2016 Olympians who are still playing -- not counting Tamika Catchings, who retired after the 2016 WNBA season -- weren't there, three of them members of the 2017 champion Minnesota Lynx.
Lynx center Sylvia Fowles was in the midst of playoffs in China, as was Storm forward Breanna Stewart, and they opted not to attend the camp. Lynx guard Seimone Augustus is still not 100 percent after knee surgery she had following the WNBA season. And Lynx point guard Lindsay Whalen has retired from international play, although she will continue in the WNBA.