Howard and Brink Injured Before Olympics

The U.S. Olympic women’s 3×3 basketball team is facing significant challenges as two of its star players have recently been sidelined with injuries.

Atlanta Dream’s Rhyne Howard, who was leading her team with an average of 15.4 points per game, left Wednesday night’s game against the Minnesota Lynx with a lower leg injury. This unfortunate event occurred just a day after Los Angeles Sparks rookie Cameron Brink suffered a torn ACL, effectively ending her season and her chances of competing in the Olympics.

Howard’s injury happened in the third quarter, and her condition will be re-evaluated, according to Atlanta head coach Tanisha Wright. Brink, a standout from Stanford, slipped on the court Tuesday night, with the Sparks confirming her ACL tear on Wednesday. These back-to-back injuries leave TCU guard Hailey Van Lith and former Tennessee standout Cierra Burdick as the only healthy players currently available on the roster.

The U.S. 3×3 team, which won the gold medal in Tokyo with the help of players like Stefanie Dolson, Allisha Gray, Jackie Young, and Kelsey Plum, now faces the challenge of finding suitable replacements.

Notably, Plum and Young are now part of the U.S. Olympic women’s 5-on-5 team. Potential replacements for Howard and Brink include Aliyah Boston, Dearica Hambry, and Betnijah Lainey-Hamilton. However, FIBA’s regulations require that a team have two players ranked within the top 10 of their country and two players in the top 50, or they must have the minimum number of ranking points earned through participation in 3×3 events.

Adding to the complexity, Republican Texas Senator Ted Cruz criticized the USA Basketball selection committee for leaving Caitlin Clark off the Olympic roster, despite her significant impact on the WNBA. The recent Indiana Fever victory over the Chicago Sky, featuring former college rivals Angel Reese and Caitlin Clark, became the most-watched WNBA game in 23 years, with an average of 2.25 million viewers and a peak of nearly 3 million.

Clark’s stellar performance, with 23 points and nine assists, contrasted sharply with the selection committee’s decision to exclude her from the Olympic team due to her lack of experience, as explained by committee chair Jen Rizzotti.

Rizzotti defended the decision, stating that the committee’s focus was on building the best possible team for coach Cheryl Reeve, rather than on individual star power or viewer ratings. This explanation, however, has not quelled the criticism, with many fans and commentators questioning the logic of omitting such a high-profile and talented player like Clark.

As the U.S. Olympic women’s 3×3 basketball team navigates these setbacks, the pressure is on to find capable replacements and maintain their competitive edge. The upcoming decisions will be crucial for the team’s prospects in the Olympics, highlighting the delicate balance between player experience, team dynamics, and the ever-present need to captivate and engage the audience.


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