USA Basketball Veteran Anne Donovan Called Upon To Lead U.S. At 2006 FIBA World Championship, 2008 Olympic Games
Calling upon a coach who has been entrenched in USA Basketball for nearly three decades, USA Basketball announced today that three-time Olympian Anne Donovan, head coach of the WNBA Seattle Storm, will serve as the head coach of the USA Basketball Women's Senior National Team for 2006-08. With Donovan at the helm, the USA Basketball Women's Senior National Team will compete in the 2006 FIBA World Championship (Sept. 12-23 in Sao Paulo, Brazil); if necessary the 2007 FIBA Americas Olympic Qualifying Tournament (dates and site TBD); and if the USA qualifies, the 2008 Summer Olympic Games (Aug. 8-24 in Beijing, China). Donovan's selection was made by the USA Basketball Women's Senior National Team Committee and approved by the USA Basketball Executive Committee.
"It is such an incredible feeling," said Donovan. "It's an honor that you don't allow yourself to think about, think about the possibility, even to really dream about, because it's such a tremendous honor. To accept this position is really very meaningful and very impactful for me. From my first time wearing red, white and blue in 1978 as a youth at 15, it was something that was so meaningful for me. It is something that has always remained in my blood. Like most things in our profession, there is a small window to get through and this opportunity is not taken for granted by me. With it comes great responsibility to carry on the tradition, it's something I take great pride in. Most of my life has been built around USA Basketball in some capacity and I'm honored to be able to continue to be involved with USA Basketball."
"Anne's extraordinary contributions to the national team effort have spanned nearly three decades, and she is the perfect choice to lead our team over the next three years," said USA Basketball President Val Ackerman. "Her leadership skills, her vast knowledge about the game and her familiarity with international basketball as both a coach and player will be invaluable as we look to continue the domination of American women in national team competition."
"The Committee really felt that Anne was the perfect coach to lead the USA Senior National Team this quadrennium in our quest for gold," said Committee chair and WNBA Chief of Basketball Operations and Player Relations Reneé Brown. "She has the expertise, the respect and confidence of our players, to be able to continue to build on the successes of USA Basketball Women's Senior National Teams over the past 10 years. Anne stands out among her peers in terms of her international experiences as a player and a coach. The Committee really believes she'll be an outstanding leader and a great ambassador for the game."
The U.S. and Donovan will first 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 Lisa 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-game winning streak that dates back to the 1994 bronze medal game. Additionally, the U.S. owns a combined 43-game winning streak in Olympic and World Championship competition that dates to the 1994 World Championship bronze medal game and includes three Olympic and two World Championship gold medals.
In addition to her three Olympic teams (1980-DNC, 1984-gold, 1988-gold) as an athlete, Donovan was on the sidelines as an assistant coach to Van Chancellor (Houston Comets) in 2004 as the United States earned the gold medal in Athens. Also no stranger to the FIBA World Championship, Donovan was an assistant coach for the 1998 and 2002 gold medal winning USA Basketball squads. She also played on the 1986 USA World Championship Team that toppled the USSR 108-88 in Moscow for the gold medal and the 1983 USA World Championship Team that took silver after losing a close 84-82 battle to the Soviet Union in the gold medal game. Donovan returned from the 04 Games and steered the Seattle Storm to the WNBA crown. In doing so Donovan became the first female coach to head a WNBA championship team.
"I've been around for quite a long time so I think it was tough to ignore me," laughed Donovan after being asked why she thought she was selected for this coaching position. "Seriously though, I think the years of experience with a lot of different coaches, formerly as a player and more recently as a coach, who have been through this hopefully has given me enough expertise to really be able to come in and continue the winning tradition that the women have set as our standard."
In addition to acting as an assistant to Chancellor at the 2004 Olympics, where the team went unscathed through competition at 8-0, and the 2002 World Championship, where the USA finished with a perfect 9-0 mark, Donovan was also on the sidelines both of those years as the USA Basketball Women's Senior National Team posted a 16-0 record in exhibition play prior to Athens and in 2002 the U.S. earned the Australian-hosted 2002 Opals World Challenge title with a 4-0 record. Donovan also aided Chancellor in evaluating the final members of the 2002 U.S. squad during the USA National Team's spring training camp. During that time the red, white and blue earned a 100-59 exhibition victory over the 2002 WBCA College All-Stars in San Antonio during the NCAA Final Four weekend.
In 1998, Donovan served as an assistant coach to Nell Fortner with the USA World Championship Team that captured the gold medal in Germany with an unblemished 9-0 record. Prior to the World Championship, Donovan assisted the U.S. squad to a 12-1 pre-competition record and a pair of tournament titles against national teams from Argentina, Australia, Canada, China, Japan, Slovakia and Spain.
Donovan also assisted Fortner and the 1997 USA Women's World Championship Qualifying Team that went 4-2, earned the silver medal in Brazil and qualified the U.S. for the 98 Worlds. During its 13-game pre-competition exhibition tour of Canada, Germany and Slovakia, Donovan helped the U.S. squad to an impressive 12-1 record.
In all, USA Basketball teams with Donovan on the sidelines have racked up an impressive 75-4 record for a sterling 94.9 winning percentage and she brings with her into 2006 a USA Basketball 54-game winning streak, dating to April 28, 1998.
Inducted as a player into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 1995 and into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 1999, Donovan has been a player on a remarkable 11 USA Basketball teams and is one of the most decorated players in USA Basketball history. In addition to the 1980, 1984 and 1988 Olympic teams, and the 1983 and 1986 World Championship teams, Donovan also played on the 1983 and 1987 Pan American Games squads that earned golds, the silver medal winning 1981 World University Games team, as well as the gold medal 1978 and 1979 U.S. Olympic Festival East teams. She started her USA Basketball career as a 15-year-old in 1977 on the inaugural USA R. William Jones Cup Team. All told, of a possible 10 medals, she has captured seven golds and two silvers as a player and posted a 52-7 record for a 88.1 winning percentage.
Donovan, who owns a 112-100 record as a professional head coach, took over the reigns of the Seattle Storm in 2003 and led them to an 18-16 record, the most victories in franchise history. In the next two seasons Donovan not only upped the Storm's victory record to 20-14 in each of those two years, she also piloted her 2004 squad to the WNBA title.
On Aug. 18, 2005, she became the fourth WNBA coach, and first woman, to reach the 100-victory milestone in a contest against the Minnesota Lynx and Donovan's 103 victories ranks third among all-time WNBA coaches.
Having completed in 2001 her successful inaugural season with the Charlotte Sting, Donovan parlayed a dismal 1-10 start into an extraordinary WNBA championship runner-up finish to the Los Angeles Sparks. Closing the regular season with an 18-14 record and a fourth place finish in the Eastern Conference, the Sting went on to advance to the WNBA championship after downing the Eastern Conference champs Cleveland and Eastern Conference runners-up New York. She again posted an 18-14 record in 2002, finishing tied for first in the Eastern Conference standings and advanced the Sting to their second consecutive playoff berth.
In 2000 Donovan acted as the expansion Indiana Fever's head coach while Fortner spent the summer preparing for the Olympic Games. Donovan led the Fever to a seventh place finish and a 9-23 record in its maiden season. Donovan began her professional coaching career at the helm of the ABL Philadelphia Rage during the 1998-99 season and led the Rage to a 9-5 start before the ABL folded in December 1998.
Prior to joining the professional coaching ranks, Donovan spent three seasons (1995-96 to 1997-98) as head mentor at East Carolina University (N.C.) rebuilding a Lady Pirates program that had posted a total of only 10 wins in the two seasons prior to her arrival. Under Donovan, ECU bettered that mark in her first year as the Lady Pirates posted 11 wins during the 1995-96 campaign and in the 1996-97 season East Carolina scored 13 wins and advanced to the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) Tournament championship game for the first time since 1992. In her final season at ECU, the Lady Pirates advanced to the second round of the CAA Tournament, falling to eventual NCAA Sweet Sixteen participant and Donovan's alma mater, Old Dominion University (Va.).
Also one of the most accomplished players in collegiate women's basketball, Donovan helped guide Old Dominion to a sterling 37-1 record and the AIAW national title as a freshman in 1980, then went on to lead ODU to an AIAW third-place finish in 1981 and to the NCAA Final Four in 1983.
Throughout Donovan's four-year college playing career, Old Dominion compiled a 116-20 record (.853), and she was named the Naismith and Champion Player of the Year in 1983 as well as an All-American in 1981, 1982 and 1983. Donovan finished her playing career at Old Dominion as the Lady Monarchs' all time leading scorer (2,719), rebounder (1,976) and shot blocker (801), and still owns no less than 25 ODU records.
Her accomplishments on the hardwood are still being recognized. On Oct. 24, 2004, Donovan was named by the Sun Belt Conference as its All-Time Women's Basketball Player. Additionally, Donovan is a member of the the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame, ODU Sports Hall of Fame and the CoSIDA Academic All-American Hall of Fame.
After college, Donovan spent five seasons playing professionally in Shizuoka, Japan (1983-84 to 1987-88) and one season in Modena, Italy (1988-89), before returning to Old Dominion as an assistant coach for six seasons (1989-90 to 1994-95). With Donovan on the coaching staff, ODU earned four CAA conference titles (1992, 1993, 1994, 1995), five NCAA tournament berths and a record of 115-62 (.650).
FIBA World Championship
In addition to host Brazil and the USA as defending Olympic champions, included among the 16 nations vying for a medal in 06 will be the Czech Republic, which edged Russia for the gold at the 2005 FIBA Europe Championship, Spain took bronze against Lithuania and France downed Latvia in the fifth place game to secure Europe's fifth and final spot. Also among the pack for 06 are Australia, which won the best of three series against New Zealand for the lone FIBA Oceania spot; as well as China, South Korea and Taiwan, which took gold, silver and bronze, respectively, in the 2005 FIBA Asia Championship. Cuba, Canada and Argentina will represent FIBA Americas after finishing with the gold, bronze and in fourth place, respectively, at the 2005 Tournament of the Americas. Brazil, which already qualified by virtue of playing host to the 06 Worlds, took silver. The final two teams were decided at the 2005 FIBA Africa Championship as gold medalist Nigeria and silver medalist Senegal round out the field of 16.
The draw to determine the four preliminary groups of four nations each will be held Jan. 31 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. 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.
Anne Donovan Coaching Synopsis