The Minnesota Lynx will have four representatives on the hardwood for tonight’s FIBA Women’s World Cup Semifinals when Team USA battles Team Canada.
United States of America
Lynx Head Coach and General Manager Cheryl Reeve is leading USA Basketball’s Senior Women’s National Team as Head Coach for the FIBA Women’s World Cups in 2022 and 2026, as well as the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.
Reeve is off to an impressive start leading the greatest basketball dynasty of all-time. Her team cruised through Group A, going 5-0 with an average scoring margin of +46.2 while averaging 107.2 points per contest, including a USA Basketball record 145 points in regulation against Korea on Monday. Now, Reeve has USAB in position to play for a medal in its 10th straight FIBA Women’s World Cup.
“I have enjoyed the heck out of coaching this group. They’ve embraced every single thing that we’ve asked them to do,” Reeve said after the team’s 88-55 Quarterfinals win over Serbia, extending the team’s World Cup winning streak to 28, one that dates back to 2006. “They take great pride in the culture that they’re standing on, those that started this thing for us. We are having so much fun just putting ourselves in a situation to continue what is already built.”
Up to 6-0 in Sydney, Reeve is an impressive 8-0 as Head Coach in official competitions, averaging 100.1 PPG and allowing just 61.3, good for an average cushion of +38.8 PPG.
Joining her on the USAB staff is Minnesota Associate Head Coach Katie Smith, who is serving as a court coach at the Women’s World Cup.
Smith has quite the resume repping the stars and stripes in international competition as a player. She is a three-time Olympic Gold Medalist (2000, 2004, 2008), a two-time FIBA World Cup Gold Medalist (1998, 2002), and also has golds in the 2007 FIBA Americas Championship, 2002 Opals World Challenge, 1999 U.S. Olympic Cup, 1996 R. William Jones Cup and 1994 Goodwill Games.
On the other side is a Canada team that has already made some history down in Sydney. Team Canada on Thursday advanced to their first Women’s World Cup Semifinal in 36 years with a 79-60 win over Puerto Rico, in large part due to the efforts of Lynx regulars.
Canada’s captain is Natalie Achonwa, who backed up Sylvia Fowles in the front-court leading a high-energy bench unit in 2021 and 2022. She has played a key role beyond being the lead voice in the locker room.
The dependably unselfish Achonwa has averaged 7.5 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game in Sydney, and saved her best for the biggest game for Canada so far. The former Notre Dame star won player of the game honors with a 12-point, nine-rebound, four-assist performance in the Quarterfinals. Simply put, she elevates everyone around her with how she stimulates player and ball movement, and it’s fun to watch when she’s in the zone.
Achonwa is flanked by Lynx wing Bridget Carleton, who has been a major force for the Canadians in international competition in recent years. This year’s Women’s World Cup has been no different.
Carleton won FIBA’s Player of the Day honors earlier this week behind a 27-point, eight-rebound effort that included an impressive 7/8 performance from behind the arc. She’s no stranger to stepping up in big moments, and certainly will have to do that for Canada if they want to contend with the United States for a Championship berth.
The former All-American at Iowa State is averaging a team-high 14.8 points, 5.7 rebounds, 1.8 assists and is leading Canada from behind the arc at 45.5% (15/33).
Fans can watch the game tonight at 2 AM CT on ESPN2.