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Preview: UConn represented by 14 athletes in 2020 Tokyo Olympics

The current and former UConn stars will represent six different countries in five different competitions.

Nigeria v United States Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics officially begin on Friday, July 23. Starting with the Opening Ceremony, where Sue Bird is the US flag bearer, UConn will have a sizable presence throughout the games over the next two weeks. In total, 14 athletes will represent six different countries in five different events.

Women’s Soccer

Steph Labbé — Canada

The tournament has already begun for Labbé and Canada with a 1-1 draw against host Japan on Wednesday. Now in her second Olympics, Labbé got the start in goal for Canada. In the 47th minute, she collided with a Japanese attacker in the box, resulting in a penalty. Though she suffered an apparently left shoulder injury on the play, Labbé stayed in to deny the penalty attempt before being subbed out. At the moment, there’s no update on her status for the remainder of the tournament.

Field Hockey

Róisín Upton — Ireland

A 2015 national champion at UConn, Róisín (pronounced row-sheen) Upton is the star on Ireland’s first-ever Olympic field hockey team. The 27 year old has 81 caps with the national team, where she plays defense and midfield.

It’s been an eventful lead-up to the Olympics for Upton and Ireland. They made a surprise run to the final of the 2018 World Cup but then nearly failed to qualify for the Olympics just over a year later. During qualifiers, they tied Canada 0-0 in a deciding game and went to penalties. Ireland fell behind 3-1 before storming back with three straight stops and three consecutive makes — including one by Upton — to win.

Now, Ireland will look recapture that magic from 2018 in Tokyo. Upton wears No. 6 for the Emerald Isle.

Ireland v Canada - FIH Women’s Olympic Qualifier Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Cécile Pieper — Germany

Pieper spent just one season at UConn as a graduate transfer, but she played a key role in the Huskies’ run to the NCAA Quarterfinals as Big East Defensive Player of the Year and NFHCA First Team All-American in 2018. This is Pieper’s second time as an Olympian after previously winning bronze with Germany back in Rio 2016. Pieper, No. 22, plays in the midfield.

Germany and Ireland are both in Pool A and will play each other on Tuesday, July 27 at 11:15 p.m. EST.

Great Britain v Germany - Women’s FIH Field Hockey Pro League Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images for FIH

Men’s Basketball

Gavin Edwards — Japan

Edwards, who played for UConn from 2006-2010 and helped the Huskies reach their third Final Four, was a late addition to host country’s roster. After eight seasons in Japan’s top league from 2013-2021, Edwards became a naturalized citizen in 2019 and occupies the naturalized citizen slot on Japan’s roster. He averaged 12.8 points and 6.1 boards per game while shooting 42.3 percent from deep this season for Japan’s Chiba Jets Funabashi and figures to be a stable presence in a Japanese frontcourt that features NBA players Yuta Watanabe and Rui Hachimura. Edwards wears No. 23 for Japan.

Niels Giffey — Germany

After helping UConn to a national championship in 2014, Giffey returned to Germany to suit up for Alba Berlin, his hometown team. As one of his country’s top players, Giffey helped lead Germany to its first Olympic appearance since 2008, scoring eight points in the FIBA Qualifying Tournament Finals win over Brazil. Much like in college, Giffey remains a sharpshooter, joining the 50-40-90 club in just under 20 minutes per game this season for Alba Berlin while averaging 11 points per game. Following the Olympics, Giffey will start a new chapter of his professional career, as he signed with Žalgiris Kaunas of the Lithuanian Basketball League earlier this summer. Giffey wears the same No. 5 he donned at UConn.

Women’s Basketball

Sue Bird, Tina Charles, Napheesa Collier, Breanna Stewart, Diana Taurasi — USA 5x5

Five former Huskies headline Team USA for the 5x5 Basketball Tournament. They will be the heavy favorites to take home the gold medal despite suffering losses in exhibition games against the WNBA All-Stars and Australian national team prior to departing for Tokyo.

Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi are on a quest for a historic fifth gold medal in their fifth games as members of Team USA. Bird is expected to be the starting point guard for this team and will play a critical role in facilitating the offense. Taurasi is battling back from a hip injury sustained while playing for the Phoenix Mercury just over three weeks ago. She did not play in the team’s exhibition games but hopes to be ready to go for the team’s opener against Nigeria on Tuesday, July 27th.

Breanna Stewart, a now two-time Olympian, will be one of the focal points of Team USA’s offensive and defensive efforts coming off Finals MVP awards in both the 2020 WNBA season and 2021 Euroleague season. Stewart, who was also the MVP in Team USA’s last major international competition in the 2018 FIBA World Cup, averaged the most minutes throughout the three exhibition games prior to Tokyo. Given the depth of talent in the front court on this Team USA roster, expect to see Stewart spend quite a bit of time playing the three to help spread the floor.

The above mentioned frontcourt depth includes both Tina Charles and Napheesa Collier. Charles, who will be playing in her third Olympics, is having one of her most dominate seasons yet in her 11th year in the WNBA. With Liz Cambage’s announcement that she will not compete for Australia in Tokyo, it’s unlikely that the US will face any competition that has an answer for Charles. Collier is making her first Olympic appearance and is the youngest player on the US roster. Given the embarrassment of riches the Team USA has in the post, expect her to also be in the rotation at the three, behind Stewart.

Former UConn point guard Jen Rizzotti is also an assistant coach on the staff.

Jersey numbers: Bird (6), Stewart (10), Collier (11), Taurasi (12), Charles (14).

2021 USA Basketball Training Camp: All-Access Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images

Aaliyah Edwards, Kia Nurse — Canada 5x5

Canada enters the Olympics with their highest ever world ranking at fourth in the FIBA standings. That ranking, coupled with Australia superstar Liz Cambage’s absence, leaves Canada with high medal hopes.

Kia Nurse will make her second Olympic appearance and will play a big role in the medal quest for Canada. Nurse led the Canadian team in minutes, scoring and assists in the 2018 FIBA World Cup following her first professional season. With two additional seasons under her belt and one of just three active WNBA players on the roster, Nurse will likely be the focal point of Canada’s offense.

Aaliyah Edwards, on the other hand, is the youngest player on the Canadian roster. Edwards played just over 15 minutes per game off the bench in the Americup earlier this summer, but can bring valuable size and physicality off the bench for Canada. Even if her minutes are limited, Edwards will still be gaining invaluable experience playing with and against the best in the world prior to her sophomore season.

Nurse is No. 5 while Edwards wears No. 24.

Basketball - Olympics: Day 9 Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

Gabby Williams — France 5x5

France enters the Olympics at fifth in the FIBA world rankings and is coming off a second-place EuroBasket finish in June. Gabby Williams averaged 20 minutes, 8.2 points and 4.0 rebounds for the French national team throughout their six games in route to the loss in the EuroBasket Finals.

France and Team USA are both in Group B and Williams will face two of her former teammates in the final group stage game on Monday, August 2nd at 12:40 am ET.

Stef Dolson — USA 3x3

UConn was slated to have two representatives on the 3x3 roster for Team USA. However, Katie Lou Samuelson tested positive for COVID-19 prior to the team’s departure for Tokyo. Samuelson was replaced by Jackie Young of the Las Vegas Aces, leaving Dolson as the only Husky on the roster.

The US is considered the favorite to take home the gold in 3x3 basketball’s inaugural Olympics after going undefeated in Olympic qualifying earlier this summer. In their six game qualifying tournament, Dolson ranked second on the team with 34 points and 24 rebounds and shot an efficient 76 percent from inside the one-point zone.

The US 3x3 team opens up their Olympic run against France, the second place team from the qualifying tournament, on Saturday, Jul 24th at 4:55 a.m. ET.

Schedule

NBC owns the broadcasting rights in the US and will air events on NBC, NBC Sports, USA Network, CNBC, the Olympic Channel, the Golf Channel, Telemundo and NBC Universo. Everything not on TV will be streamed on Peacock, NBCOlympics.com and the NBC Sports App.

UConn Olympic Schedule

Day Event Time
Day Event Time
Wed, July 21 Canada WSOC vs. Japan 6:30 AM
Sat, July 24 Canada WSOC vs. Chile 3:30 AM
USA 3x3 v. France 4:55 AM
USA 3x3 v. Mongolia 8:00 AM
Ireland FH v. South Africa 8:15 AM
Germany FH vs. GB 8:30 PM
Sun, July 25 USA 3x3 v. Romania 4:30 AM
USA 3x3 v. Russia 8:25 AM
Ireland FH v. Netherlands 9:00 PM
Monday, July 26 Canada WBB vs. Serbia 4:20 AM
USA 3x3 v. Italy 4:55 AM
USA 3x3 v. China 8:00 AM
Japan MBB vs. Spain 8:00 AM
Germany FH vs. India 8:15 AM
France WBB vs. Japan 9:00 PM
Tues, July 27 USA 3x3 v. Japan 12:30 AM
USA WBB vs. Nigeria 12:40 AM
Canada WSOC vs. GB 7:00 AM
Germany MBB vs. Nigeria 9:00 PM
Ireland v. Germany FH 11:15 PM
Wed, July 28 3x3 Semifinals 4 am/5:10 am
3x3 Gold Medal 8:55 AM
Canada WBB vs. Korea 9:00 PM
Thurs, July 29 Japan MBB vs. Slovakia 12:40 AM
Germany FH vs. South Africa 8:30 PM
Ireland FH vs. India 10:45 PM
Friday, July 30 USA WBB vs. Japan 12:40 AM
France WBB vs. Nigeria 4:20 AM
Sat, July 31 Germany MBB vs. Australia 4:20 AM
Germany FH vs. Netherlands 5:30 AM
Ireland FH vs. Great Britain 7:45 AM
Canada WBB vs. Spain 9:00 PM
Sun, Aug 1 Japan MBB vs. Argentina 12:40 AM
Mon, Aug 2 France v. USA WBB 12:40 AM
Tues, Aug 3 WBB Quarters
Wed, Aug 4 WBB Quarters
Thurs, Aug 5 WBB Semis 12:40 am/7:00 am
Friday, Aug 6
Sat, Aug 7 WBB Bronze 3:00 AM
Sun, Aug 8 WBB Gold 10:30 AM