Successful Crew Called Upon To Assist Anne Donovan, USA At 06 Worlds
February 16, 2006 Colorado Springs, Colorado
Calling on three coaches who have made their impact felt with their program, USA Basketball announced today that WNBA head coach Mike Thibault of the Connecticut Sun, and collegiate head coaches Gail Goestenkors of Duke University (N.C.) and Temple University's (Pa.) Dawn Staley will complete the coaching staff of the 2006 USA Women's World Championship Team, which is headed by four-time Olympic team member and Seattle Storm head mentor Anne Donovan. The selections were made by the USA Basketball Women's Senior National Team Committee.
"This is a tremendous staff and I am very excited to work with Mike, Gail and Dawn," said 2006-08 USA Basketball Women's Senior National Team head coach Donovan. "Our backgrounds are all somewhat diverse and bringing all that experience together will make us a very tough, well rounded staff."
The three selected coaches are all familiar with USA Basketball and the international game. Goestenkors, who since beginning her tenure at Duke in 1992-93 has guided the Blue Devils to 11 NCAA Tournaments, including Final Fours in 1999, 2002 and 2003, has been a head coach of two USA Basketball squads, most recently the gold medal winning 2005 USA U19 Women's World Championship Team. She also served as an assistant coach at the senior level as a member of Van Chancellor's staff for the gold medalist 2002 USA World Championship and 2004 U.S. Olympic teams.
Staley's selection marks her first stint on the USA Basketball sidelines. However, the three-time Olympic gold medalist was a proven winner on the court and she has proven her mettle in turning the Owls into a successful program over her five-plus seasons at Temple, guiding them to three NCAA Tournaments in five years.
Thibault, who in three years coaching women's basketball has guided the Sun to a pair of WNBA Finals, spent 13 years coaching professional men's teams and served as head coach of two USA Basketball men's squads that captured silver at the 1995 Pan American Games and gold at the 1993 FIBA Americas (formerly known as COPABA) World Championship Qualifying Tournament.
The Donovan-led U.S. squad will look to defend its World Championship title at the 15th FIBA World Championship, scheduled to be played Sept. 12-23 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Behind the play of 2002 FIBA World Championship MVP Leslie, the United States captured the 02 gold medal, successfully defending it's 1998 World Championship crown. The U.S. owns a record seven gold medals, one silver and one bronze at the World Championship, while compiling an 80-20 (.800 winning percentage) record, including a 19-0 winning streak that dates back to the 1994 bronze medal game.
"It's just a great honor to work with Anne," said Goestenkors. "I had the privilege of working with her during the World Championships and the Olympics and I gained so much respect for her. She's an outstanding coach, she knows the game, is a tireless worker, highly motivated, and she's an even better person. She's somebody that I would love to work for, and with, and go to war with. Anne is somebody that I have so much faith in and I think we have great chemistry as well. So I am very excited about having the opportunity to work with her again this summer.
"I love USA Basketball and I love the opportunity to learn and grow. Anytime that you get to work with the very best players in the world and compete internationally you must test yourself, day in and day out, to be a better coach. I'm always striving to improve, and USA Basketball has helped me to hone my skills and get better."
2006 will mark the return to the USA Basketball sidelines for 2005 USA Basketball National Coach of the Year Goestenkors who, along with Donovan, was an assistant for the 2002 USA World Championship and 2004 U.S. Olympic teams that captured gold medals. Additionally, Goestenkors piloted the 2005 USA U19 World Championship Team to a perfect 8-0 record and the gold medal in Tunisia. Prior to the U19 Worlds, Goestenkors' squad earned the 2005 International Sports Invitational gold medal with a 4-0 record against Australia, China and Russia, and split a pair of exhibition contests against host Hungary's U19 squad in Budapest. In her first USA Basketball stint, she was the head coach for the 1997 USA R. William Jones Cup Team that went 6-1 and took home silver in Taiwan.
One of the most successful coaches in women's college basketball, she ranks as Duke's all-time winningest coach with a 356-94 (.791 winning percentage) record (all records as of 2/15/06) and is currently ranked No. 1 in the nation with a 23-1 slate, including a 10-1 mark in Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) play. Additionally, the Blue Devils have already achieved their ninth straight 20-win season.
Goestenkors was named the 2003 National Coach of the Year by Naismith, the Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) and was awarded the Victor Award after leading the Blue Devils to a school-record 35 wins and the NCAA Final Four. She was also the 2000 United States Basketball Writers Association National Coach of the Year, 2002 GBallmag.com National Coach of the Year, 2002 WBCA District II Coach of the Year, 2000 Basketball Times National Coach of the Year and the 1999 recipient of the Victor Award.
A six-time (1996, 1998, 1999, 2002, 2003 and 2004) ACC Coach of the Year honoree, Goestenkors is one of just two ACC coaches to earn the distinction six times.
"I was excited to be asked to be a part of USA Basketball again but on a different level," said Staley. "I expect that this level will be the most challenging for me, being on the other side of the whistle. I'm going to approach this challenge the same way that I did as a player, helping Anne in any way that I can and doing whatever it takes to come away with nothing less than the gold.
"USA Basketball was a huge part of my life for 15 years and I guess I'm trying to prolong the void that retiring from playing and coaching will give me. This (USA Basketball) is what I do. I'm attracted to things that challenge me and USA Basketball has done that to me for years. I'm excited to be given the opportunity to be challenged on the other end.
"I think it will be a great experience. I have the highest regard for Anne as a coach and as a person, so it will be much easier to work with her than with a person that I just met. Anne and I have a long and storied history together and I expect that we will use this experience to put another notch on our belts."
Staley, who steps into her inaugural coaching role with USA Basketball, is certainly no stranger to the international game. A three-time Olympic and two-time World Championship gold medalist, Staley was a fixture on USA Basketball teams nearly every year from 1989-2004 and in addition to her Olympic and World Championship gold medals has finished atop the podium at the 2002 Opals World Challenge, 1999 U.S. Olympic Cup, 1994 Goodwill Games, 1993 World Championship Qualifying Tournament, 1992 R. William Jones Cup and 1991 World University Games, and finished with the bronze at the 1994 World Championship. All told, USA teams with Staley on the roster have posted an amazing 197-10 record (.952 winning percentage).
A two-time USA Basketball Female Athlete of the Year (1994, 2004), Staley was voted by all U.S. team captains in 2004 to carry the United States' flag and lead the USA's delegation into the Athens Olympics Opening Ceremonies. Additionally, Staley was named the MVP at the 94 Goodwill Games and currently serves on the USA Basketball Executive Committee as an athlete representative.
The head coach at Temple since the 2000-01 season, Staley has proven herself among the top young collegiate coaches in the country, leading the Owls to three NCAA Tournaments in five seasons. Prior to her arrival Temple had never won the Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament, but has done so three times under Staley's tutelage. Staley, also became the fastest coach in school history to reach 100 victories near the end of her fifth season, and earned the 2004 and 2005 Atlantic 10 Coach of the Year, and 2002 and 2005 Philadelphia Big 5 Coach of the Year honors.
Staley's Owls have been ranked in the top 25 during the entire 2005-06 season and currently (as of 2/15/06) rank No. 23 in the Associated Press writers poll and No. 22 in the USA Today/ESPN coaches poll with an 18-6 slate. On Jan. 19 she made history again when Temple edged No. 9 Rutgers University (N.J.) 48-47 for the program's first victory over a top-10 school.
"To be able to coach for USA Basketball is such an honor," said Thibault. "But to be able to do it on both sides is amazing. It's not something I ever would have expected to do in my career, some of my best coaching experiences have been with USA Basketball. Having the chance to work with three great coaches, all three have done so much in this game, and working with the top basketball players in the world will be exciting. We have a challenge ahead of us, but with this staff and the athletes we have in this country, we will be up to that challenge.
"I know about some of the international players from scouting in the WNBA and studying them for the draft, looking at free agents. I've been to Australia, and we have a couple of Australian players on our roster. I've seen a lot of the Russians before and our team played the Chinese National Team two years ago. There should be some exciting games, there are some really good teams out there. When I went down to Argentina (for the Pan Am Games) I didn't know much about the competition, but you can't do that anymore, so I've been watching a lot of tape to get ready for the World Championship."
Owning international coaching experience on the men's side, Thibault has guided a pair of USA Basketball squads to the medal stand. In 1993 he directed a USA team consisting of CBA stars to a 6-1 overall record and the gold medal over top squads from the Americas at the World Championship Qualifying Tournament in Puerto Rico. He returned two years later, again with a CBA-laden squad, and piloted the 1995 USA Pan American Games Team to the silver medal and a 4-3 record in Argentina. His three losses in that tournament came by a total of nine points and once again his team was pitted against some of the top talent from the Americas.
Thibault took over the Connecticut Sun program in 2003 and guided the team to the WNBA Eastern Conference playoffs in his first season coaching women's basketball. In doing so, he became the first coach in franchise history to advance the Sun in the WNBA playoffs. He then upped the ante in the next two seasons. Predicted to finish last in the conference in 2004, Thibault led his team to an 18-16 slate, then took the Sun on a run through the playoffs and into the WNBA Finals. In 2005 he piloted Connecticut to a league-best 26-8 record and a second consecutive appearance in the WNBA Finals.
During his tenure, the Sun has never dropped more than three games in a row and in earning a franchise record eight straight victories during the 2005 season, he eclipsed the franchise record of six consecutive wins set by his 2004 squad. In all, Thibault owns a 62-40 (.608 winning percentage) record with the Connecticut Sun.
A 13-year men's professional coach, including four years (1998-99 through 2001-02) as an assistant with the NBA Milwaukee Bucks, Thibault got his start with the World Basketball League's Calgary 88's in 1987-88. He then spent eight years (1989-90 through 1996-97) building a 236-205 record (.535 winning percentage) with the Continental Basketball Association's (CBA) Omaha Racers, where his squads not only competed in the CBA playoffs each year, but he led his teams to the 1993 CBA championship and returned the following year to the CBA Finals.
Hired as an assistant to George Karl and Milwaukee Bucks in 1998-99, over the span of four seasons the Thibault-assisted Bucks compiled a 163-133 (.551 winning percentage), clinched the 2001 Central Division title and advanced to the 2001 Eastern Conference Finals.
FIBA World Championship
FIBA conducted the official draw to determine the four preliminary round groupings for the 2006 FIBA World Championship on Jan. 31, and the United States was placed in Group C along with China, Nigeria and Russia. Preliminary round games are scheduled for Sept. 12-14, and the top three teams from each of the four preliminary round groups will advance to the second round for the right to advance to the medal round quarterfinals. In addition to the teams in Group C, placed in Group A were Argentina, host Brazil, South Korea and Spain; Group B includes Australia, Canada, Lithuania and Senegal; while Group D consists of Cuba, Czech Republic, France and Taiwan.
The 15th FIBA World Championship format will feature a round-robin competition in preliminary round play. The top three teams from each preliminary group advance to form two second round groups consisting of six teams each. Each team's results from its preliminary group carries over to the second round standings and each team will play the other three teams in the second round group whom they have not faced previously. The top four teams from those two groups will advance on to the medal round and the gold medal game will be played Sept. 23.
2006 will mark Brazil's fourth time hosting the FIBA World Championship
after Rio de Janeiro played host in 1957 and Sao Paulo was the site for
the 1971 and 1983 Worlds. In all, the United States had mixed success
when playing a World Championship in Brazil. The 1957 squad took home
the gold with an 8-1 slate, in 1971 the U.S. finished in eighth place
with a 6-2 record and in 1983 the USA squad again went 6-2, but returned
with the silver medal.
2006 USA Women's World Championship
Team Coaching Staff
Head Coach: Anne Donovan, Seattle Storm