- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Fresh off their WNBA seasons, Elena Delle Donne, Candace Parker and Sue Bird will lead a group of U.S. basketball players to Europe to train in preparation for next year’s Olympics.

“It’s nice to get a group together, since we have limited time because of everyone’s schedules,” Bird said. “There are only a few times a year that we can practice, and we need to make the most of it.”

Joining them will be Stefanie Dolson, Candice Dupree, Angel McCoughtry, Danielle Robinson, Courtney Vandersloot and Tina Charles. Brittney Griner will be with the team after serving a suspension mandated by USA Basketball for her domestic violence arrest in April. Griner will miss about 20 percent of camp once she gets there.

“USA Basketball does not condone violence of any sort,” CEO Jim Tooley said. “Brittney accepted responsibility for her actions and has been complying with the court order to attend domestic violence counseling and has served a seven-game suspension in the WNBA.

“USA Basketball has conducted extensive interviews with everyone involved, and because Brittney has continued to show remorse and has dealt with this issue head-on, USA Basketball believes that the discipline it is imposing on Brittney is appropriate and fair.”

UConn senior Breanna Stewart will also be making the trip. The three-time Final Four most outstanding player was part of the FIBA world championship team that won a gold medal last fall and qualified the Americans for the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

The Americans will be missing five members of the 2012 Olympic team: Maya Moore, Seimone Augustus, Lindsay Whalen, Sylvia Fowles and Tamika Catchings are playing in the WNBA Finals that begin Sunday.

“It’s one of the obstacles that we have every Olympic year - the amount of time we get with our players,” said U.S. coach Geno Auriemma. “This is another example of that. We are going to have 10 days together, so we’ll have a couple practices and a couple games, but we are going to be missing some players. All the players that are playing in the WNBA Finals won’t be there, which means some of our best players won’t be there.”

The Americans, who have won the last five Olympic gold medals, will train in Spain, Italy and the Czech Republic from Oct. 2-10, playing four games. They hope to have another training session next spring before the WNBA season starts up again.

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