August 9, 2021 

How will USA Basketball look for Paris in 2024?

Dawn Staley retires as national team coach after winning gold medal

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Dawn Staley and A’ja Wilson. (photo courtesy of USA Basketball)

The U.S. women’s basketball team might look significantly different when the Olympics come to Paris in 2024.

We already knew that team director Carol Callan was leaving to focus on her role with FIBA Americas, and it was widely anticipated that the Tokyo Games would serve as the swan song for Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi at the Olympic level. Assistant coach Dan Hughes had previously retired from the WNBA, and 35-year-old Sylvia Fowles is unlikely going to be in the mix to join Bird and Taurasi in the five gold medals club.

It wasn’t so expected that head coach Dawn Staley would elect to retire from USA Basketball, which the 51-year-old told reporters in the press conference following her team’s 90-75 gold medal game win over Japan on Sunday.

“Our country has a lot of great coaches that can get the job done,” Staley said. “Me being a part of six, that’s enough. I’m full. It’s something that I’ll miss as well, because it’s not duplicated in any other form in team basketball.”

Jim Souhan of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported that Staley would recommend U.S. assistant Cheryl Reeve for the position. The longtime Minnesota Lynx coach and general manager joined the national team staff prior to winning the gold medal at the 2014 World Cup in Turkey and was also there for the Rio Olympics.

Other candidates could be Under-19 World Cup coach Cori Close, 3X3 gold medal-winning advisor Kara Lawson or current assistant coach Jennifer Rizzotti.

Staley won gold medals in Atlanta, Sydney and Athens as a player, then as an assistant coach at Beijing 2008 and Rio 2016. She took over as head coach for Geno Auriemma prior to the 2018 World Cup in Spain. On Sunday, she joined Anne Donovan — who she assisted in 2008 — as the only women to win the Olympic gold medal as both a player and coach. Staley will remain as the coach at the University of South Carolina, where she won a national title in 2017.

In the press conference, Bird and Taurasi lamented on the fact that they took the baton from Staley and her generation and are passing it to the younger players, such as A’ja Wilson and Breanna Stewart.

“With the two of them,” Staley said of Bird and Taurasi, “it’s a level of comfort, you know you have a really good shot at winning basketball games because they are leaders. The are leaders in different ways. Sue probably talks a little bit more than Diana, but when Diana speaks it comes from her heart. Our players understand the pecking order of USA Basketball.”

Tammi Reiss, the current University of Rhode Island coach and teammate of Staley’s with the Virginia Cavaliers, told Natalie Heavren of The Next that she always believed Staley would end up a coach.

“You knew she knew the game inside and out,” Reiss said. “Thank God she she chose to take that path because she’s an unbelievable mentor for young women. And I say this all the time, if I had a daughter, she’d have to choose between two coaches — one Geno Auriemma and the other would be Dawn Staley.

“You can pick and you can choose, but I’m leaning towards Dawn. That’s greatness. And thank God, Temple offered Dawn the job and pulled her into coaching and now you see just how great a leader she is. But she is a phenomenal coach.”

Written by Scott Mammoser

Scott Mammoser has covered major international events for FIBA, World Athletics and the International Skating Union. He has been to six Olympics and traveled to more than 90 countries.

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