University of Hartford's Jennifer Rizzotti To Lead USA Women At 2010 FIBA Americas U18 Championship
April 1, 2010 - Colorado Springs, Colo.
University of Hartford head coach Jennifer Rizzotti has been selected by the USA Basketball Women's Junior National Team Committee to lead the 2010 USA Women's U18 National Team this summer at the FIBA Americas U18 Championship, which will be contested June 23-27 at the U.S. Olympic Training Center (USOTC) in Colorado Springs, Colo.
While Rizzotti returns to the USA sideline after serving as an assistant coach for the gold-medal winning USA U18 National Team in 2006, she will be assisted by first-time USA Basketball coaches Sue Semrau of Florida State University and Joi Williams of the University of Central Florida.
'The committee feels confident that this trio of coaches will bring out the best in our 2010 Women's U18 National Team,' said Sue Donohoe, chair of the USA Basketball Women's Junior National Team Committee. 'Jen Rizzotti brings valuable international experience to her head coaching position after winning a gold medal in 2006, and she will certainly have two outstanding assistants in Sue Semrau and Joi Williams.'
Rizzotti, who just completed her 11th season as Hartford's head coach, led her 2009-10 Hawks to a 27-4 record and the NCAA Tournament first round.
'I am honored to be chosen as the head coach for this year's U18 National Team,' said Rizzotti. 'I had a wonderful experience as an assistant coach under Doug Bruno and was able to grasp what it really meant to represent your country while coaching these outstanding student-athletes
'I am excited about the tremendous coaching staff USA Basketball has put together for this team,' Rizzotti continued. 'I look forward to working with Joi and Sue as we prepare these young women to win gold and understand the responsibility they have as the future faces of our game.'
Semrau led her 2009-10 Seminoles to a 28-6 tally and an NCAA Elite Eight appearance before falling to the University of Connecticut on March 30.
'It's a tremendous honor to work with USA Basketball,' Semrau said. 'I'm looking forward to working with some outstanding student-athletes and coaches.'
Williams has 20 years experience as a college head coach. After capturing the Conference USA title last year, Williams and UCF ended their season with a 63-62 loss to top-seeded Tulane in the 2010 Conference USA Tournament to finish 11-16.
'Coaching with USA Basketball has been a long-time dream of mine,' Williams said. 'I am extremely humbled and honored to have been given this opportunity. I will do my very best to represent USA Basketball and UCF in a first class manner.'
USA Basketball will conduct trials for the 2010 USA U18 Women's National Team June 8-11 at the USOTC, with approximately 30 U.S. hopefuls participating. Only athletes 18-years-old or younger (born on or after Jan. 1, 1992) are eligible. Following selection of the 2010 USA U18 National Team, which is expected to be announced on June 11, the Americans will continue to train at the USOTC until the start of the tournament on June 23.
On March 12, FIBA Americas conducted the draw for the 2010 FIBA Americas U18 Championship for Women, and the defending champion and host nation United States was drawn into Group B with Argentina, Brazil and Puerto Rico; while Group A will consist of Canada, Chile, Costa Rica and Mexico.
The USA will open preliminary round play June 23 in a 5:45 p.m. game versus Argentina (all times listed are MDT time). The USA then meets Brazil at 5:45 p.m. the following day, and will close out preliminary play versus Puerto Rico on June 25 in a 5:45 p.m. game.
The top two finishing teams in each preliminary round group will advance to the June 26 medal round semifinals and play for 1st-4th places. Teams placing third and fourth in each preliminary round group will advance to the June 26 consolation semifinals and play for 5th-8th places. The FIBA Americas U18 Championship for Women finals will be held Sunday, June 27. The top four finishing squads will earn qualifying berths for the 2011 FIBA U19 World Championship for Women.
Selection of the USA U18 Team will be made by the USA Basketball Women's Junior National Team Committee. In addition to Donohoe, the committee includes Joanne Boyle (University of California head coach), Coquese Washington (Penn State University head coach), Connie Yori (University of Nebraska head coach), and athlete representative Beth Cunningham (1999 USA Pan American Games Team member).
In her 11 seasons at Hartford (1999-00 to present), Rizzotti has compiled a 219-120 overall record (.646 winning percentage) and led the Hawks to four America East Conference regular season titles, four America East Tournament titles and five trips to the NCAA Tournament.
In 2009-10, the Hawks captured a perfect 16-0 conference record for a regular season title and also earned the school's first ever at-large berth into the NCAA Tournament. Rizzotti was named on March 10 as one of 10 finalists for the inaugural Kay Yow Award, which will be voted on by a 26-member panel and announced at the NCAA Women's Final Four.
A two-time America East Coach of the Year (2006, 2007), Rizzotti first took the reins of the Hartford program in 1999, just 12 days after she and her Houston Comets teammates celebrated a WNBA championship. At the time of her appointment, she was the youngest Division I women's basketball coach in the country.
Following a 14-14 record in her first season and a 15-14 tally in 2000-01, Rizzotti led her 2001-02 squad to a 16-15 record and the program's first-ever America East Tournament Championship and NCAA Tournament appearance.
While Hartford finished 7-21 in 2002-03, Rizzotti led the 2003-04 Hawks to a then school record 18 wins (18-12), which was good for the fifth-best turnaround in the nation from the previous season.
In 2004-05, Rizzotti and the Hawks earned their second ever America East championship and an NCAA Tournament first round appearance. At the time, the Hawks' 22 wins were the most ever by any team, men's or women's, in the Division I era at Hartford.
The Hawks recorded the program's first-ever NCAA Tournament win in 2005-06, and finished with a 27-4 record after losing in the second round. Setting a then school record for overall wins and conference victories (15), the team also reeled off a school-best 15-game winning streak during the regular season. Rizzotti earned her first America East Coach of the Year honor in 2006, becoming just the second time Hartford women's basketball coach to receive the award.
Hartford finished the 2007-08 season with a school record 28 wins, earning a third-straight America East regular season championship and third-straight 25-win season, reaching the second round of the 2008 NCAA Tournament.
The Hawks received the program's first ever WNIT at-large bid in 2008-09, with Hartford recording its fifth-straight 20-win season, fifth straight postseason appearance and a 20-12 overall record.
Rizzotti played eight seasons of professional basketball following her graduation from the University of Connecticut in 1996, including her 1999 WNBA Championship with the Houston Comets. In addition to five seasons in the WNBA - two with the Houston Comets and three with the Cleveland Rockers - she competed for three seasons with the New England Blizzard in the American Basketball League. In the ABL she was a two-time All-Star.
While proving to be a star at the professional level, Rizzotti truly made her mark during her memorable career at the University of Connecticut. The Husky point guard was the Associated Press National Player of the Year and the Wade Trophy winner as college basketball's outstanding senior player in 1995-96. She was also a two-time Kodak All-America first team selection, a GTE/CoSIDA Women's Basketball Academic All-American, the Big East Player of the Year, and the Big East Women's Basketball Scholar-Athlete of the Year. During the Huskies' memorable run to the national championship in 1995, Rizzotti was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated.
Rizzotti averaged 11.4 points per game and totaled 637 assists and 349 steals during her collegiate career, setting UConn single-season and career records in both categories.
In September 2003, Rizzotti was inducted into the New England Basketball Hall of Fame.
A native of New Fairfield, Conn., Rizzotti is a 1992 graduate of New Fairfield High School, where she was part of two state championship teams. She was also selected as the Gatorade Player of the Year for the state of Connecticut as a senior.
The all-time winningest coach in Florida State women's basketball history, Semrau has compiled a 234-166 overall record (.585 winning percentage) in 13 seasons with the Seminoles (1997-98 to present).
After leading Florida State to a second-straight co-ACC regular season championship in 2009-10, Semrau was recognized by the Women's Basketball Coaches Association as the Russell Athletic/WBCA Regional Coach of the Year for Region 2.
During the past six seasons, Florida State has made six NCAA Tournament appearances, including the Sweet Sixteen in 2007 and the Elite Eight in 2010.
Seven Seminoles have also been drafted into the WNBA under Semrau's tutelage. Mara Freshour and Tanae Davis-Cain were selected in the third round of the 2009 WNBA Draft and former Seminole Britany Miller was picked in the second round.
After taking over the program in 1997, Semrau recorded her first double-digit wins season in 1999-00 with a 12-17 record. Semrau took her Seminoles to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 2000-01, reaching the second round before finishing with a 19-12 tally.
Following WNIT second round appearances in 2003 and 2004, Semrau hit 20 wins for the first time with a 24-8 tally and NCAA Tournament second round appearance in 2005, followed by a 20-10 season and second round appearance in 2006.
The Seminoles burst on to the national scene under Semrau during the 2006-07 campaign, when Florida State tallied a 24-10 record and reached the NCAA Sweet Sixteen for the first time in school history.
In 2007-08, Florida State played in the NCAA Tournament second round and finished with a 19-14 record.
Reaching the NCAA Tournament for a school-record fifth-consecutive season, Semrau's 2008-09 Seminoles also achieved the highest national rankings in program history (No. 11 Associated Press and No. 12 USA Today/ESPN) and finished with a 26-8 record.
Semrau, who earned her 200th career victory on Feb. 13 against North Carolina, was named the 2009 Atlantic Coast Conference Coach of the Year, her third such honor.
Prior to coming to FSU, Semrau served three years as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at the University of Wisconsin under Jane Albright. While in Madison, she contributed to the Badgers' three-straight winning seasons and two NCAA Tournament appearances, including the program's first ever back-to-back 20-win seasons. Semrau also was noted for her recruiting efforts at Wisconsin with a 1995 recruiting class that ranked eighth in the country by Blue Star Index.
Semrau first joined Albright at Northern Illinois in 1991 where she assisted in leading NIU to three consecutive NCAA tournament appearances.
Prior to her hiring at Northern Illinois, Semrau served as head women's basketball coach and assistant athletic director at Occidental College in Los Angeles for four years where she compiled a 51-47 overall record.
A native of Seattle, Wash., Semrau is a graduate of Shorecrest High School. She went on to attend the University of Puget Sound for two years. Semrau transferred to the University of California-San Diego in 1984 where she finished her career ranking 13th all-time in scoring and fourth all-time in assists. She graduated in 1985 with a Bachelor's Degree in communications and received her Master's Degree in athletic administration from the University of Southern California in 1988.
Currently she serves on the Board of Directors for the Women's Basketball Coaches Association.
With over 20 years of overall coaching experience under her belt, Joi Williams recently completed her third season as the head coach at UCF and seventh season as a head coach. In her three seasons rebuilding UCF, Williams has already compiled an impressive list of accomplishments, including leading the Knights to the 2009 NCAA Tournament after her team won the title at the 2009 Conference USA Tournament.
In 2008-09, her most successful season at UCF, the Knights were picked to finish last in C-USA before posting 11 wins and tying for second place. The Knights' 11 league wins in 2008-09 matched the program's total in its first three seasons in C-USA combined, and Williams' peers took notice by voting her the 2009 C-USA Coach of the Year. Also in 2008-09, UCF players won the C-USA Player of the Week award a league-high five times.
The season became more memorable in the postseason, when the Knights won four games in four days to capture the C-USA Tournament Championship and the program's first NCCA Tournament berth since 1999 and third overall. The Knights finished the season at 17-17 after a hard-fought 85-80 loss to third-seeded North Carolina in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
In her first season at UCF in 2007-08, with freshmen playing a nation-high 91 percent of the minutes, Williams led UCF to its first 10-win season in three years. She has compiled a 38-53 record in her three years leading the Knights.
Williams came to UCF after four seasons as the head coach at Murray State (2003-04 to 2006-07), where she helped the Racers to a WNIT berth and the program's first 20-win season in 18 years. The Racers had a 54-61 overall record in her time rebuilding Murray State.
In her final campaign with the Racers in 2006-07, Williams led Murray State to a 21-10 mark and a trip to the WNIT. The WNIT berth marked only the second postseason appearance in Murray State history. The Racers also advanced to the Ohio Valley Conference (OVC) Championship title game. Murray State finished the campaign among the national leaders in several statistical categories, including free-throw percentage, field-goal percentage and scoring offense.
Williams spent the 2002-03 season as the recruiting coordinator at Clemson University.
Prior to Clemson, Williams was the assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at the University of Florida for 12 seasons (1990-91 to 2001-02). During her tenure, the Lady Gators participated in nine NCAA Tournament tallied a 247-121 overall record (.671 winning percentage).
Williams helped attract five All-America selections to Florida, and nine standouts who were recruited by and played under Williams were selected in the WNBA Draft. The list of WNBA draftees includes DeLisha Milton-Jones, who was the 1997 Southeastern Conference Player of the Year, the first UF player ever selected to the Kodak All-America First Team and a member of the gold-medal winning 2000 and 2008 U.S. Olympic basketball teams. Milton-Jones also earned gold medals with the 1998 and 2002 USA World Championship teams.
Born and raised in Jacksonville, Williams played on the collegiate level at the University of South Florida from 1984-88. She was a four-year starting point guard and currently ranks among South Florida's career assist leaders. She earned a bachelor's degree in marketing in 1988.
FIBA Americas U18 Championship for Women
Originally known as the FIBA Americas Junior World Championship Qualifier, the FIBA Americas U18 Championship was held every four years from 1988 through 2004, and is now contested every other year. USA women's teams boast of a remarkable 33-2 overall record in the U18/junior qualifiers and have won gold in 1988, 2000, 2004, 2006 and 2008, while capturing silver medals in 1992 and 1996.
Some of the top players who have represented the United States in the past U18 tournaments include: Jayne Appel (2006); Alana Beard (2000); Tamika Catchings (1996); Tina Charles (2006); Marissa Coleman (2004); Skylar Diggins (2008); Stacey Ford (1998); Sonja Henning (1988); Niesa Johnson (1992); Rebecca Lobo (1992); Maya Moore (2006); Nneka Ogwumike (2008); Candace Parker (2004); Courtney Paris (2004); Cappie Pondexter (2000); Nicole Powell (2000); Lynn Pride (1996); Diana Taurasi (2000); Candice Wiggins (2004); and Tiffany Woosley (1992).