With a roster as stacked as the Sydney Opera House, the United States is arguably the team to beat at this year’s FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup – particularly after Monday’s record-breaking 145-69 win over South Korea.
But that roster depth makes it hard to crack coach Cheryl Reeve’s rotation. Just ask Sabrina Ionescu, as the 24-year-old New York Liberty star has not seen significant minutes in the tournament, in which Team USA has a perfect 4-0 record.
Ionescu checked in Monday for the first time since Las Vegas Aces stars A’ja Wilson, Chelsea Gray and Kelsey Plum arrived fresh from their WNBA championship parade.
While Ionescu played 15 minutes in the team’s tournament opener against Belgium last Wednesday and 23 minutes against Puerto Rico last Thursday, she did not see the court Saturday against China.
During her 10 minutes of play in Monday’s dominant win against South Korea, Ionescu put up three points while adding four assists.
Following the game, Reeve noted the packed depth chart as one of the reasons why Ionescu hasn’t seen that many minutes so far in the tournament.
“We have 12 players that I’m trying to get minutes for. In terms of the depth chart, that’s where it’s at,” Reeve said. “And so for her, this is her first time she’s made the national team, first experiences, and just based on the body of work, you’ve got to have an 11 and 12, right?
“She’s handled it great and is helping her team get ready, and I thought she was really good in her minutes [vs. South Korea].”
No player on the team is averaging more than 24.5 minutes per game.
The team has also been more defensive-minded than in years past, averaging a tournament-best 13.3 steals per game even without WNBA Defensive Player of the Year Wilson fully integrated into the lineup
Against China, Team USA allowed just 63 points. China had entered that contest averaging 102.5 points.