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Lacy, Wolters Eye 12th Spot on Olympic Team

June 11, 1996

Venus Lacy has done everything she could to make her case. So has Kara Wolters.

All they can do now is wait.

Lacy and Wolters are thought to be the top candidates for the 12th and final spot on the U.S. Olympic women’s basketball team, which will be announced Sunday in Chicago.

Both have the size that U.S. coach Tara VanDerveer is seeking _ Wolters is 6-foot-7 and Lacy 6-4 _ but only one is likely to make it. The 11 members of the national team, which has been together for a year and compiled a 50-0 record, are expected to get the other Olympic spots.

``The way I feel now, I just want what’s best for the team,″ said Lacy, who played with the national team in its last four exhibition games. ``I just want the girls to win the gold, our country to do it. I can’t be selfish. I have to look at what’s best for the team.″

Wolters, who recently completed her junior year at Connecticut, practiced with the national team in April and again in late May and early June. Although she has little international experience, Wolters is taller and heavier (212 pounds) than anyone on the national team and that could count for a lot with the selection committee.

Still, Wolters isn’t getting her hopes too high.

``I’m sure not banking on being on that team,″ she said. ``It was a wonderful experience just being a part of all of that. It will make the Olympics all that much more fun to watch just knowing I had a chance to play with those girls.″

The 13-member selection committee, chaired by Minnesota-Duluth women’s coach Karen Stromme, has spent countless hours preparing for its task _ watching tape, attending practices and games, watching games on television and meeting with the coaching staff.

Committee members will hash over the selections in a conference call Thursday.

``We’re not going to make a decision until we’re ready to,″ Stromme said. ``We’ve got a deadline, of course, but the purpose of the committee is to pick the best team and we’ve taken a very personal charge to do that.″

VanDerveer doesn’t have a vote in the selection process, but the committee consults with her and she has said several times that the team needs a post player.

Two other inside players are among the finalists _ 6-5 Sylvia Crawley and 6-3 Shanda Berry _ along with guards Teresa Weatherspoon, Edna Campbell and Katie Smith.

``We’ve got the perimeter covered,″ VanDerveer said. ``We need someone to really come in and get inside and mix it up with international competition. I’d like someone who is big, strong, physical and can score _ kind of in the Shaquille O’Neal mold, someone like that.″

VanDerveer also would like someone who’d be more than a 12th player.

``In my mind, it would be a seventh player or a sixth player, someone that can get right inside and contribute,″ she said.

With six years of professional experience overseas, most recently in Greece, Lacy is well-versed in international play. And at 190 pounds, she has the size and strength to bang inside.

She had her best game with the national team on Sunday, getting nine points, six rebounds and one steal while playing 14 minutes in an 80-62 victory over Canada in Oakland.

``I think I have what she’s looking for, what it takes to help get the job done,″ Lacy said. ``I’m aggressive. I’m very physical inside. I’m a very dominating player. But I can’t worry about how it’s going. I’m just trying to stay on course and do my job.″

Wolters has the potential to star on future Olympic teams and could get the nod this year if the committee decides it would be worthwhile to give her experience now. She was the youngest member of the U.S. team that won the bronze medal in the 1994 World Championships and played in the World University Games last year.

``I know I’m young,″ Wolters said. ``but I feel I could hold my own while I’m in there and the team wouldn’t lose anything.″

If Wolters doesn’t make the team, there’s always 2000 and 2004. For Lacy, 29, this is likely her last shot.

``I can’t wait until they make the announcement,″ Lacy said. ``It’s so much pressure and so much stress, just waiting until they announce it. But even if I’m off the team, I’m pleased with the way I’m practicing and playing.″

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