Maybe its me, but as I’ve been watching all of the preview shows leading up to the 2012 London Olympics, I haven’t noticed much attention given to the USA women’s basketball team.
It’s been gymnastics this, swimming that. Track and field this, men’s basketball that.
Where is Geno? Where are Maya Moore or Tamika Catchings? Where is the news about a four-time defending gold medalist?
Mike Thibault, coach of the Connecticut Sun and assistant on the 2008 gold medalist in Beijing, says to be patient. The hype is coming.
“I think they [NBC and the major networks] realize that the USA men and women’s [basketball] teams will be a big deal as they get closer to the medal games. But the Olympics start off with a bang, swimming and women’s gymnastics. Those are sports the average Olympic viewer tunes in for, as opposed to the other sports.
“So, from a marketing standpoint it’s understandable that NBC would push those events because medals are going to be won in swimming by the end of the day [Saturday]. The basketball viewers will be there when it comes time.
“I felt it was that way in Beijing, too, as it didn’t really bother anyone [that it wasn’t there at the start].
“You only get to see Michael Phelps or Ryan Lochte on the big stage once every four years. It’s a bigger deal. We have basketball games all the time. You don’t see the American gymnasts compete against the best in the world other than during the World Championships or Olympics.”
Thibault was among the last group of coaches to be allowed to march in the Opening Ceremonies. The IOC voted to exclude them to shorten the parade this time around.
“It was really hot and we waited a long time [to enter the stadium in Beijing],” said Thibault. “There was a lot of standing, waiting and moving forward. But there was a lot of opportunity to interact with the other delegations from the other sports. That was a time to get to know each other, take pictures.
“President [George W.] Bush came to speak with the USA delegation beforehand and took pictures. That was a big deal, an exciting time.
“But when you walk through the tunnel, you suddenly leave the outside world and enter this incredible other world and you feel very tiny in a stadium where 100,000 people are watching. It’s almost indescribable. It’s like you are in a movie.
“London is going to need to go to great lengths to out due what Beijing pulled off.”
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