"Anytime you are recognized by your peers it's a tremendous honor. When you think of all the eligible teams and all of their great performances, it makes winning this award very satisfying," said U.S. team head coach Ron Lykins (Stillwater, Minn.).
The U.S. won the Joseph F. Lyttle World Basketball Challenge (Warm Springs, Ga.) and the North American Cup (Birmingham, Ala.) over back-to-back weekends. In Warm Springs, the U.S. went 6-0, defeating Japan 54-35, Mexico 75-13 and Germany 56-42. In addition, the women defeated Great Britain in the quarterfinals 80-19, Canada in the semifinals 66-47 and Germany in the championship game 56-50.
At the North American Cup, Team USA went 5-0, defeating Germany 62-40, Canada 45-43 and Australia 51-37. The U.S. then defeated Canada in the semifinals 60-37 and Germany in the championship game 50-37. In the 11 games, the Americans outscored their opponents 655 (59.5 pts/game) to 400 (36.4 pts/game). Stephanie Wheeler (Tuscaloosa, Ala.) was named to the All-Tournament Team and Jen Ruddell (Champaign, Ill.) was named the Most Valuable Player.
"Our team has worked hard all summer and we came ready to play physically, mentally, and spiritually," said Ruddell. "Being named Team of the Month for June is certainly a great morale boost for our team going into Beijing. Hopefully we can improve and build on those tournaments to bring home the gold."
The U.S. women are gold medalists from the 2004 Paralympic Games in Athens, Greece and begin defense of their title on September 8. The 2008 Paralympic Games run from September 6-17 in Beijing, China.