USA Senior National Team Assistant Coaching Staff To Remain In Place Through 2008
February 8, 2007 Colorado Springs, Colorado
The 2006 USA Women's World Championship Team assistant coaches will return to the sidelines for the USA Basketball Women's Senior National Team program through the 2008 Olympics, provided the U.S. qualifies for the Beijing Games, USA Basketball announced today. 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 assist USA head coach Anne Donovan (Seattle Storm) and the 2007-08 USA Basketball Women's Senior National Team as it looks to qualify for the 2008 Olympics and defend the USA's streak of three Olympic gold medals. The selections were made by the USA Basketball Women's Senior National Team Committee and approved by the USA Basketball Executive Committee.
The USA's next chance to qualify for the 2008 Olympics will be at the 2007 FIBA Americas Championship, slated for Sept. 25-29 in Valdivia, Chile. The gold medalist at that tournament will earn a berth to the Beijing Olympic 12-nation field. In addition to the USA, teams participating in the 2007 FIBA Americas Championship will be Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Cuba, Jamaica and Mexico. Should the United States not return home from Chile with the gold medal, there will be one final chance to qualify for the Olympics at the 2008 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament slated for June 9-15 at a site TBD.
"The Committee felt strongly that the USA Senior National Team would benefit from keeping this coaching staff together for the next two years," said Committee chair Reneé Brown, WNBA chief of basketball operations and player relations. "Mike, Gail and Dawn worked hand-in-hand with Anne and the team, and the players truly believed in the staff and highly respect their knowledge of the game."
"Our staff in 2006 was outstanding," said Donovan. "Mike, Gail and Dawn bring so much experience and I have a tremendous amount of respect for each of them and the knowledge that they bring to our USA Senior National Team. I think the staff consistency is vital to the development of our Senior National Team. I was thrilled to be coaching alongside such great people first and tremendous coaches second and I'm looking forward to working with them again over the next two years."
The three selected coaches have extensive knowledge of USA Basketball, the international game and the players in the USA Senior National Team program and the trio combined owns 15 gold medals, two silvers, four bronzes and 10 first place finishes at various international invitational tournaments. Additionally, in their most recent endeavors prior to the 2006 Worlds, Goestenkors served as an assistant coach to Van Chancellor for the gold medalist 2002 USA World Championship and 2004 U.S. Olympic Teams; Staley, a seasoned veteran in the international arena, played alongside nearly every member of the 06 squad at some point in her career; and Thibault worked alongside Donovan during the 2006 USA Women's Senior National Team's spring training that included a total of 26 athletes at three separate training camps.
"I was so happy and really pleased that we have the opportunity to stay together," said Goestenkors, who since beginning her tenure at Duke in 1992-93 has guided the Blue Devils to 11 NCAA Tournaments, including the NCAA Final Four in 1999, 2002, 2003 and 2006 and the title game in 06. "Our staff had great chemistry and we worked together well. When you're in stressful situation and adverse environments, I think it's important that the staff feel comfortable and good about one another. We got along well, we worked well together and we're willing to go to war for and with each other."
Goestenkors is off to another great start in 2006-07, boasting a perfect 24-0 slate (all records as of 2/07/07) and a No. 1 national ranking. The 2005 USA Basketball National Coach of the Year has been a head coach of two USA Basketball squads, most recently the gold medal winning 2005 USA U19 Women's World Championship Team.
"I'm really excited. I feel like we have some unfinished business to take care of because we didn't reach our goal of winning a gold medal at the World Championship," said long-time USA Basketball team member Staley, who retired from playing in international competition after collecting her third Olympic gold medal in 2004 and will serve her second stint on the USA Basketball sidelines with this selection. "We must dethrone Australia and bring the gold back to the United States. It is not going to be an easy battle, but I think we have the talent and motivation to go out and do that."
Staley was a proven winner on the court and has proven her mettle in turning the Owls into a successful program over her six-plus seasons at Temple. Since taking the reigns of the program for the 2000-01 season Staley has guided the Owls to four NCAA Tournaments in six seasons. She is on her way to a possible fourth consecutive NCAA berth after piloting the Owls to an 18-5 mark to start the year, including a 14-1 record over her last 15 games.
"I'm really looking forward to this," said Thibault, who in four years coaching women's basketball has guided the Sun to a pair of WNBA Finals and was named the 2006 WNBA Coach of the Year after capping 2006 with the second straight league-best record of 26-8. "We had a lot of fun as a group, we all worked well together. I think we've learned a lot about the players that we have, the staff we have and what we need to do to put ourselves in a position to win gold. I think that all of us bring different things to the table. That's one of the good things about this staff, you always want to get different ideas, different strengths and blend them and that's what we have. I had such a great experience with this group last year and I'm looking forward to working with them again."
Prior to arriving in the WNBA he spent 13 years coaching professional men's teams in the NBA and CBA and served as head coach of 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.
Host China and 2006 FIBA World Championship gold medalist Australia have earned automatic berths to the 2008 Olympic women's basketball tournament. Five additional teams will qualify to play in Beijing through 2007 FIBA zone qualifying tournaments as the gold medalists in each of the FIBA zones (Africa, Americas, Asia, Europe and Oceania) advance to compete in the 08 Olympic Games.
The second through fourth place teams from the FIBA Americas Championship, along with nine other national teams from around the globe that did not claim gold at the remaining FIBA zones, including two from Africa (silver and bronze medalists), two from Asia (silver and bronze medalists), four from Europe (second through fourth place finishers) and one from Oceania (silver medalist) will compete for the final five Olympic slots at the 2008 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
The coaching staff selections are pending approval of the U.S. Olympic Committee Board of Directors.