A trio of talented and successful women’s basketball head coaches – Dan Hughes (Seattle Storm), Cheryl Reeve (Minnesota Lynx) and Jennifer Rizzotti (George Washington) – have been selected to serve as assistant coaches for the 2018 USA Basketball Women’s National Team. The coaches will begin working with the USA National Team during its April 24-26 training camp in Seattle and return in September to aide USA head coach Dawn Staley (South Carolina) through the 2018 FIBA World Cup of Basketball. Hughes, Reeve and Rizzotti were selected by the USA Basketball Women’s National Team Steering Committee and approved by the USA Basketball Board of Directors.
Additionally, the USA Basketball Women’s National Team Player Selection Committee has increased the USA National Team pool to 34 athletes. The six additions attended the USA’s Feb. 9-11 training camp. The 2018 USA World Cup Team is expected to be selected from the USA National Team pool, and the 2018 FIBA World Cup will be held Sept. 22-30 in Tenerife, Spain.
The six additions to the USA National Team pool are: Allisha Gray (Dallas Wings); Chelsea Gray (Los Angeles Sparks); Tiffany Mitchell (Indiana Fever); Brittney Sykes (Atlanta Dream); Sydney Wiese (Los Angeles Sparks); and Elizabeth Williams (Atlanta Dream).
“Anytime that you take on such a great task of trying to build on the success of USA Basketball, you have to have staff chemistry,” said Staley. “I’ve worked with all three, so that’s instant chemistry. We know how each other operates, and everybody works in a first class and a high-energy way, and I see us taking the reins of what previous staffs have accomplished into a successful World Cup appearance.
“I was happy to see some of the younger players who haven’t played with USA Basketball on the national scene join in and fit right in,” Staley added. “They did a great job of blending. They didn’t look like they didn’t belong. When you’re playing against great players that we have in our pool, that’s saying a lot because they’ve been here, they’ve done that, and for the younger players who have excelled in that situation, it only means that USA Basketball’s future is great.”
“The committee selected these three coaches because we felt that they were not only successful coaches with their own teams, but have solid USA Basketball experiences,” said Carol Callan, chair of the USA Women’s National Team Steering Committee and USA Basketball Women’s National Team director. “When contemplating their selection we knew that we wanted to put together a coaching staff that covers all areas of team preparation and one that has great staff chemistry. Not only do these three possess a wealth of basketball knowledge, they work well together and will compliment Dawn’s coaching style. All three have had a large hand in the past successes of various USA national teams, whether it be as a coach or committee member, and they possess a deep knowledge of the international game. We feel very strongly that this coaching staff has what it takes to help lead the USA to another FIBA World Cup gold medal.
“The committee knew that all six of these athletes were very good basketball players,” added Callan, who also serves as chair of the USA National Team Player Selection Committee. “However, we’ve always said that we need to see someone in a USA National Team camp setting before putting them into the pool. They lived up to our expectations, performed very well in our February minicamp and earned their position on the USA National Team pool.”
Athletes previously named to the USA National Team pool include: Seimone Augustus (Minnesota Lynx); Sue Bird (Seattle Storm); Tina Charles (New York Liberty); Layshia Clarendon (Atlanta Dream); Napheesa Collier (University of Connecticut); Elena Delle Donne (Washington Mystics); Skylar Diggins-Smith (Dallas Wings); Stefanie Dolson (Chicago Sky); Asia Durr (University of Louisville); Sylvia Fowles (Minnesota Lynx); Brittney Griner (Phoenix Mercury); Tiffany Hayes (Atlanta Dream); Jantel Lavender (Los Angeles Sparks); Jewell Loyd (Seattle Storm); Kayla McBride (Las Vegas Aces); Angel McCoughtry (Atlanta Dream); Kelsey Mitchell (Ohio State University); Maya Moore (Minnesota Lynx); Chiney Ogwumike (Connecticut Sun); Nneka Ogwumike (Los Angeles Sparks); Kelsey Plum(Las Vegas Aces); Katie Lou Samuelson (University of Connecticut); Odyssey Sims (Los Angeles Sparks); Breanna Stewart (Seattle Storm); Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury); Morgan Tuck (Connecticut Sun); Courtney Williams (Connecticut Sun); and A’ja Wilson (University of South Carolina).
As was the case over the past three quadrenniums, the 2017-20 USA National Team roster will be fluid. It is expected that the official, 12-member 2018 USA World Cup and 2020 U.S. Olympic teams, should the USA qualify to compete in Tokyo, will be comprised of players from the 2018-20 USA National Team.
Hughes, who served on the USA Basketball Women’s National Team Player Selection Committee from 2009-16, was a court coach during the USA National Team’s February training camp in South Carolina.
“I am truly honored and humbled to be a part of this incredible team and coaching staff led by coach Staley,” said Hughes. “I want to thank the committee plus all the players and coaches that were part of my coaching journey that will now include USA Basketball and its quest for World Cup gold.”
Named on Oct. 4, 2017, as head coach for the Seattle Storm, Hughes previously spent 16 years as a WNBA head coach. He began his career in the league as the Charlotte Sting head coach in 1999, served as the Cleveland Rockers head coach from 2000-03 and more recently was at the helm of the San Antonio Stars from 2005-09 and 2011-16. Hughes directed teams to the playoffs 10 times and advanced to the 2008 WNBA Finals after guiding San Antonio to a first-place finish in the Western Conference with a 24-10 record.
Reeve, who also was a court coach during the USA’s most recent training camp, returns to USA Basketball after serving as an assistant coach for the 2014-16 USA National Team that claimed gold medals at the 2014 FIBA World Cup Team and 2016 Olympic Games.
“It’s very exciting and an honor to be a part of new coaching staff, and I’m excited to be able to support Dawn in her first venture as a USA National Team coach,” said Reeve, who was an assistant coach for the Charlotte Sting from 2001-02 when Staley was the Sting’s point guard.
“They always say it’s not necessarily the journey, but who you experience it with and this would apply.
“I think often about Dawn’s path, her journey. She is someone who has always had a mind for the game. Even as a player, we had a pretty strong connection in terms of the Xs and Os, how to play the game. And then to see her find success as a collegiate coach, I thought it was a no brainer when the USA National Team opportunity presented itself. For me, we’re both coaches now. We’re peers and Dawn is a collaborative type of coach. I do well with that. It’s all about, what do we all need to do to win the gold? And Dawn is about as selfless as they come.
“Dan has similar history with Dawn going back into the early years of the WNBA, and I worked for Dan and then coached against him for a number of years, so that’s a fun one for me. I’ve always been a huge fan of Dan, and to have the chance to have a journey like this with Dan and his wife Mary, it feels good. I’m also very familiar with Jen, with her being on the staff as one of the team scouts the last time around. I think we share similar competitive passion for the game, and I think this is a really solid group.”
At the helm of the Lynx for eight seasons (2010 to present), Reeve, who in 2017 took on the role of Lynx general manager, has compiled a 195-77 (.717 winning percentage) overall record, and captured WNBA championships in 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2017.
After a 13-21 finish in 2010, Reeve helped orchestrate the second-best turnaround in league history, capping the regular season with a 27-7 record and then winning the WNBA title. For her efforts, Reeve was named the 2011 WNBA Coach of the Year.
Prior to being named head coach at the Lynx, Reeve spent nine years as an assistant in the league at Charlotte (2001-02, 2004-05), Cleveland (2003) and Detroit (2006-09), where she aided the Shock to a pair of WNBA titles.
A member of six USA Basketball coaching staffs and the 2011 USA Basketball National Coach of the Year, Rizzotti served this past fall as a court coach during the 2017 USA National Team’s training camp in California. Previously she was an advance scout/court coach for the gold-medal winning 2016 U.S. Olympic Team and 2014 USA World Cup Team, and she also served as court coach during USA National Team training camps from 2014-16. Rizzotti began coaching with USA Basketball as an assistant for the 2006 USA U18 National Team that claimed gold and as a head coach led the 2010 USA U18 National Team and 2011 USA U19 World Cup Team to gold medals. As an athlete, Rizzotti was a member of the 1996 USA R. William Jones Cup that earned the gold medal with a 9-0 slate.
“I’m thrilled to be named to the USA National Team staff,” said Rizzotti, whose GW squad captured the 2018 Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament title and enters the NCAA Tournament with a 19-13 record. “It’s an honor not only to work with Dawn, Cheryl and Dan, but also with the best basketball players in the world, in this opportunity to help USA Basketball win another World Cup.
“I gained a lot of great experience while working very closely with Dawn in preparing scouts for the 2016 Olympics. I’m familiar with her style, and I feel I’ll be a good asset going forward with the team’s preparation. Also, having played in the WNBA and worked as a scout for the USA National Team from 2014-16, I am familiar with how the players like to handle the condensed training opportunities we have leading up to competition.
“I’ve always been fortunate to have great people on my college staffs who have held down the fort in the past while I’m away. I feel confident that this will be not only a growth opportunity for me, but a chance for my staff to grow and help prepare our team to win its next championship.”
Rizzotti completed her first season at George Washington in 2016-17 with a 20-10 slate, including 13-3 in the Atlantic 10 for a share of the A-10 regular season title, and earned a berth in the WNIT.
Prior to arriving at GW, Rizzotti spent 17 seasons (1999-2000 through 2015-16) at the helm of the University of Hartford where she compiled a 316-216 record (.594 winning percentage), including 183-97 (.654) in America East Conference play, won five conference championships and four regular-season titles. She was named America East Coach of the Year three times (2006, 2007, 2010) and advanced her teams to six NCAA Tournaments and the 2007 WNIT.
USA Basketball Women’s National Team
Members of the USA Basketball Women’s National Team will compete in the 2018 FIBA World Cup and, if the USA qualifies, the 2020 Summer Olympic Games (July 24-Aug. 9 in Tokyo), as well as additional USA training camps and exhibition games.
The U.S. and Staley first will look to capture the title at the 2018 FIBA Women’s World Cup of Basketball, with an automatic berth to the 2020 Olympic Games being awarded to the gold medalist. Should the U.S. not finish with the gold medal in 2018, it would have two additional opportunities to qualify for the Olympics: the 2019 FIBA AmeriCup (dates and site TBD) and the 2020 FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament (dates and site TBD).
In addition to Callan, the USA Basketball Women’s National Team Steering Committee includes three-time Olympic and two-time World Cup gold medalist Katie Smith as the athlete representative; two-time Olympic and 1998 World Cup gold medalist Ruthie Bolton is the at-large representative; representing the WNBA is senior vice president of WNBA league operations Ann Rodriguez; and University of Connecticut head coach Geno Auriemma, who coached USA teams to gold medals at the past two Olympics and FIBA World Cups, serves as a special advisor.
Callan also serves as chair of the USA Basketball Women’s National Team Player Selection Committee, which is comprised of Auriemma, Smith and WNBA representatives Curt Miller, head coach of the Connecticut Sun, and Penny Toler, executive vice president and general manager of the Los Angeles Sparks.
FIBA World Cup of Basketball
Winners of back-to-back World Cup titles and four of the past five FIBA World Cups, the USA owns a record nine gold medals, one silver medal and two bronze medals in FIBA World Cup play, while compiling an all-time 103-21 record at the event. In 2014, the most recent World Cup, the U.S. took the gold medal, while Spain captured silver and Australia won bronze.
The USA will compete in preliminary round Group D and will play Senegal on Sept. 22, China on Sept. 23 and Latvia on Sept. 25.
Group A includes Canada, France, Greece and South Korea; Group B is comprised of Argentina, Australia, Nigeria and Turkey; while Group C features Belgium, Japan, Puerto Rico and Spain.
Following the preliminary round, teams will be seeded, and the top team from each group will earn an automatic berth to the quarterfinals, while the No. 2 and No. 3 teams from each group will advance to the Sept. 26 quarterfinals play-in round. From there, winners will compete in the Sept. 28-30 medal round.