Not to suggest we own women's basketball or anything, but "U" "S" and "A" in the inevitable "USA! USA!" chants during the London Olympics of 2012 are going to stand for "Uncasville," "Storrs" and "Auriemma."
Really, now. Half of the U.S. Olympic women's basketball team, 11 of whose members were announced to the masses Friday at the Final Four, here where the buffalo roam and dear and antelope play, will have ties to little old Connecticut.
Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi: UConn.
Maya Moore and Swin Cash: UConn.
Tina Charles: UConn, Connecticut Sun.
Lindsay Whalen: Connecticut Sun.
No word whether Mitchell Etess or Gov. Dannel Malloy will throw the ceremonial jump ball to begin the festivities across the pond.
Sorry, all you haters of the women's game who still reside within our boundaries. This is what we do here. And judging from the list of Connecticut names set to represent the country and the game at its highest possible level, we are its home office now more than ever.
Mad props and bon mots all around to USA Basketball and its committee for picking a team with whom the game's fans can identify and appreciate. This is a very likeable team. That much was evident in Geno Auriemma's tone Friday afternoon. Geno isn't just the coach of the team seeking its eighth national championship this weekend, but he's the Olympic coach, too, this summer.
Auriemma was peppered with questions at a news conference announcing 11 of the 12 players. It was Geno being Geno. His answers were thoughtful and clever. But just when all the questions became an avalanche of UConn, UConn, UConn and what about Griner, Griner, Griner, Auriemma saved his best bout with earnestness for Whalen.
"She's the classic example of a kid who's worked her butt off and made herself a player," he said. "Of all the players who made this team, I'm the most proud of Lindsay. It's a reward for how hard she works at the game."
Whalen, who phoned in the wee hours of Saturday morning from Prague (where she plays in the winter) was in disbelief about Auriemma's declaration.
"He really said that? That's cool. That's so cool," Whalen said. "It's such an honor to hear that from a great coach."
Whalen's spot could have easily gone to Cappie Pondexter of the New York Liberty, a perennial MVP candidate in the WNBA. Pondexter is a more accomplished scorer. You game plan for her specifically.
But sports and teams are more than statistics. (Sorry to stun the geekery of America with that one). Let's leave it here: Whalen has a far sunnier disposition. She is far more trustworthy. She was more loyal to USA Basketball and its various camps and tournaments leading to Friday's announcement.
And she's quite likely in the same role here as current Sun guard Kara Lawson, a gold medalist in the 2008 Olympics: accountable, responsible, good teammate, glue player.
Who knew there's an outpost of society remaining that still rewards loyalty and character?
Auriemma wasn't referring to anyone specifically, but his message was clearer than Grey Goose when he said, "You don't just wake up one morning and represent the United States of America on this stage. … It's about character, too."
This is going to be a fun summer. The Sun, in what will be a celebratory 10th season, return the guts of a team that won 21 games and made the playoffs. They have a TV star at guard (Lawson), an Olympian at center (Charles), old friends Renee Montgomery and Kalana Greene and the continuing quest for a championship.
Then comes a month's break for the Olympics, when we can watch players we've come to know and appreciate over the years. It's Connecticut's team before anyone else's.
This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike Dimauro.