Friday, July 11, 2008

A little alternate explanation

I feel there is a need for a little more explanation surrounding Lindsay Whalen's situation in the U.S. player pool. Whalen was officially left off the 12-person roster Thursday, the last guard spot being filled by Kara Lawson. Whalen's ability has nothing to do it, but within a U.S. program that is trying to foster more regular participation, Whalen missed too much time to displace someone like Lawson, who has been there for every camp and tournament over the past year and even returned early from her honeymoon back in April to train. That's not to say Whalen isn't dedicated; she just had other obligations, including her own wedding and an overseas contract that wouldn't allow her to compete with the U.S. team at times this past winter.

All this is clear. But U.S.A. Basketball's unwillingness to release that names of its six alternates created some confusion if Whalen was officially on the short list. Though there is no direct confirmation coming from U.S.A. Basketball, Whalen says she is, nor is U.S.A. Basketball denying as much. According to Caroline Williams, who handles PR for the U.S. program, its policy has always been not to release the names of its alternates. It's not totally clear why, though by not releasing those names, the team does afford itself more flexibility in replacing players. As an alternate, Whalen wouldn't travel to Beijing with the team, though there is a possibility she joins the team for its training camp in San Francisco later this month.

So if a guard on Team U.S.A. goes down with injury prior to the Aug. 8 deadline for final rosters, expect Whalen to be among the top candidates to be added.As of right now, it appears Katie Douglas and Candice Wiggins are also on as alternate guards. Janel McCarville and Taj McWilliams-Franklin have been mentioned as possible alternates in the frontcourt.

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