October 14, 2021
Meet Briana Weiss, the new USA Basketball team director
'My goal is to continue the unbelievable excellence'
When you inherit a program that has won seven-consecutive Olympic gold medals. And three-straight World Cups, the expectations are through the roof. That is the task Briana Weiss is facing after she was named the new director of the USA Basketball women’s team this week.
The U.S. women’s basketball team has been one of the elite; if not the most dominant, entities in global sports, not losing a game in the Olympics since Barcelona 1992. Weiss, who became the assistant director in May 2019, is replacing Carol Callan, who held the director role since 1995 and is now the FIBA Americas president.
“I think having two and a half years of experience to learn how we do things, observing trials and training camps and making relationships with players helps,” the 34-year-old Weiss said by phone. “Carol Callan set the standard, and my goal is to continue the unbelievable excellence she set.”
Weiss’ role now shifts from observing those training camps to overseeing and organizing them. She also needs to find someone to fill her former assistant position.
“We are focusing on the World Cup and years ahead, culminating with a gold medal from the 2024 Olympics,” added Weiss, who was part of the staff that traveled to Tokyo for the team’s run to the gold medal this summer. “It was a different Olympics, but I was on the bench to help with any issues. We had to stay in our own group, and I was ready to help.”
Weiss was born in Cincinnati, but her family moved to Sydney, Australia; when she was five years old for her father’s international business job. Next year’s World Cup, which will be held in Sydney, will be the first time Weiss returns since her childhood. And she said she was looking forward to the experience because she enjoyed the culture there.
After two years in Sydney*, Weiss’ family moved to Hong Kong for five years, before she graduated from Bishop O’Dowd High School in Oakland, California. She went on to play basketball for Harry Perretta at Villanova from 2005 to 2009; resulting in an NCAA Tournament appearance her senior year.
“At Villanova, I knew I wasn’t going to play professionally or in the WNBA,” Weiss said, “so when I look back at the time, I remember the relationships built with the players and coaches.”
The former forward stayed on the bench for the Wildcats as a graduate assistant and director of basketball operations; while she earned a bachelor’s in business administration and a master’s in communications.
Weiss received a master’s degree in sports industry management from Georgetown, then would stay in the Big East as the director of conference operations, working under Val Ackerman, who was inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame last month.
“My time in the Big East was absolutely fantastic,” Weiss added. “The culmination of a dream, and Val Ackerman was not only my boss, but my mentor.”
She served as the assistant tournament manager for the 2017 NCAA Men’s Tournament Regional at Madison Square Garden – a bracket that produced South Carolina in its only Final Four — and had similar roles for the Big East Tournaments in 2018 and 2019.
Now Weiss will lead USA Basketball to a new era, one that will likely not include Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi, and new stars will need to be marketed.
“The Finals have been phenomenal,” Weiss added on the current WNBA Finals, which include Taurasi’s Phoenix Mercury. “The players are terrific, and they are trending on social media.”
The rise of 3X3 competition is also a growing platform for USA Basketball in the aftermath of that team’s gold medal from Tokyo, as well.
“I am just so humbled and well aware of what I am overseeing,” she concluded. “Everyone is just trying to maintain our standard of excellence and getting the right tempo in the right time.”
* A previous version of this story incorrectly identified the amount of time Weiss lived in Australia, and said she’d graduated from a high school in Piedmont, California.