August 19, 2021
Dawn Staley: Rested, Revived and Ready
Staley Talks Olympics, Replacement and Revving up for NCAA
Dawn Staley is rested, revived and ready for what’s next.
Nine days after coaching the U.S.A. Women’s basketball team to a gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics, the legendary coach Staley spoke to a group of reporters about what was, what’s now, and what’s next.
My biggest takeaways?
She may not be Finished With Team USA
Shortly after U.S.A. won the gold, Staley made headlines when she said she would not return as head coach in Paris in 2024 and suggested Cheryl Reeve as the coach. Reeve, GM and head coach of the WNBA’s Minnesota Lynx, was U.S.A.’s assistant coach. She has won four WNBA titles as a coach.
When asked directly if she still believes this is the end, Staley had this to say: “You ask a woman post giving birth does she want to have another baby and her immediate response is no. Then you see how much that baby gives you joy and you know you start thinking about it.
“I’m 9, 10 days removed from it, I feel a little bit differently now,” Staley admitted, before adding, “But do I feel there’s a coach out there named Cheryl Reeve that can get it done? Absolutely.”
She always understood the assignment.— USA Basketball (@usabasketball) August 10, 2021
As a player 🥇🥇🥇
As an Asst. Coach 🥇🥇
As a Head Coach 🥇 pic.twitter.com/scswBPM7hs
But if she is, she supports Cheryl Reeve as her Replacement
Staley advocated for Reeve, her partner-in-crime during the gold medal run, as her replacement if she doesn’t return.
“She’s been around the game. She understands it. Her basketball mind is unmatched,” Staley said. “She has a really good understanding of how to coach pros, and it’s a delicate balance when you’re the Olympic coach. It isn’t like coaching South Carolina or the Minnesota Lynx. There’s a delicate balance in coaching an Olympic team.
“I don’t think any coach can coach an Olympic team, I don’t, because that balance has to be struck in a way that the players know that you know what you’re doing and the coach knows what a player can do,” Staley continued. “It’s difficult. It’s a difficult thing if you haven’t experienced it in some form or fashion.”
Reeve was one of the first to question her when she announced she would step down, Staley said. “She was like, ‘What are you doing? Why would you do that?’” Staley shared. She also predicted a coach would be named in a few months and if it’s Reeve, then that’s the way it will be.
“If Cheryl is the woman, I don’t want to get in her way. If she’s the one, she’s the one,” Staley said. “If they choose to go in a different direction and come back here, I’ve never turned U.S.A. basketball down.”
She’s already prepping for another Gamecocks NCAA Run
Never one to hold back or mince words, Staley admitted after the pressure of the Olympics needing “about another week” before returning to the campus. That changed when she stepped foot in the gym.
“Yesterday (Monday) was my first day back and we practiced. You come in here and you prep for practice and you see what you got and immediately I’m like, this is where I belong,” Staley said. “We got a pretty darn good team that is committed to each other and playing basketball the right way.
“It was beautiful to be back in the gym in this way. They helped me to rejuvenate and get to a place where, you know, I’m happy. It’s my happy place,” Staley continued. “And our staff, we sit around and talk about what we need to do to continue this path of getting our players to a place where we can compete for a national championship with this team. We’re not even thinking beyond this particular team and it’s going to be pretty fun.”