April 15, 2009
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - USA Basketball today announced that Geno Auriemma, an assistant coach to the gold medalist 2000 U.S. Olympic Team and winner of six NCAA championships at the University of Connecticut, will serve as the head coach of the USA Basketball Women's National Team for 2009-12. With 24-year coaching veteran Auriemma at the helm, the USA Basketball Women's National Team will compete in the 2010 FIBA World Championship (Sept. 23 - Oct. 3 in the Czech Republic), and if the USA qualifies, the 2012 Summer Olympic Games (July 27 - Aug. 12 in London, England), as well as additional USA training camps and exhibition games. Auriemma's selection was made by the USA Basketball Women's National Team Steering Committee and approved by the USA Basketball Board of Directors.
"I don't know if I can adequately describe my feelings and my emotions when I was asked to do this and how I felt ever since," said Auriemma. "It's an opportunity that if you're very fortunate comes once in your life and I never thought I would ever have this opportunity. It's just overwhelming, the emotions that run through you. What an incredible honor it is to be selected."
The U.S. and Auriemma will first look to capture the title at the 16th FIBA World Championship, scheduled to be played Sept. 23 - Oct. 3 in the Czech Republic, with an automatic berth to the 2012 Olympic Games being awarded to the gold medalist. Should the U.S. not finish with the gold medal in '10, it would have two additional chances to qualify for the Olympics: the 2011 FIBA Americas Olympic Qualifying Tournament (dates and site TBD); and 2012 FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament (dates and site TBD).
"There is no better coach in America than Geno Auriemma and we are delighted to be able to have a coach of his caliber lead our women's national team program through the 2012 Olympic Games," said USA Basketball ChairmanJerry Colangelo. "The USA Basketball women's national team has achieved tremendous success over the years and as winners of the last four Olympic gold medals, the expectations remain very high. Geno's success at UConn, both his win-loss record and the development of his players, speaks for itself and makes him a perfect choice to take hold of the reins." In the past dozen years, the highly successful USA Basketball Women's National Team program, ranked No. 1 in the world by FIBA, has posted a 63-1 slate in major international competitions, winning four consecutive Olympic gold medals (1996, 2000, 2004, 2008), two FIBA World Championship golds (1998, 2002), one FIBA World Championship bronze medal (2006) and one FIBA Americas Championship gold medal (2007).
Inducted in 2006 into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame, this appointment marks Auriemma's sixth USA Basketball coaching assignment. An assistant coach for the 2000 U.S. Olympic Team that captured the gold medal in Sydney, Auriemma also served as head coach of the 2001 USA Junior World Championship Team (U19) that finished with a 6-1 slate and the bronze medal in Brno, Czech Republic; the 2000 USA Junior World Championship Qualifying Team (U18), which earned a gold medal in Mar del Plata, Argentina; the 1996 USA Basketball Women's Select Team, which trained in Colorado Springs against the 1996 USA R. William Jones Cup Team and the 1996 Russian Olympic Team; and the West Team at the 1993 U.S. Olympic Festival.
"It's amazing for coach Auriemma," said former Husky and two-time Olympic gold medalist Diana Taurasi. "I know as a player this is a lifetime opportunity to play for the best coach in basketball. It's a dream come true for me, I always knew I would be his player again. I'm very happy. Coach has the passion and smarts to be a successful coach. He knows how to make talented players into a dominate unit and challenges players in ways no one can."
In addition to the 12 gold medalists on the 2000 U.S. Olympic Team, which included former Husky Kara Wolters, Auriemma has coached Olympic gold medalists Sue Bird (2004, 2008),Swin Cash (2004), Rebecca Lobo (1996) and Taurasi (2004, 2008) at UConn. Additionally, Auriemma coached 2008 Olympic gold medalist Cappie Pondexter (2008) on a pair of USA Basketball teams in 2000 and 2001; and coached three international Olympians at UConn in Russia's Svetlana Abrosimova (2000, 2008), New Zealand's Jess McCormack (2008) and Nigeria's Rashidat Sadiq (2004).
"I think that his being the USA Women's National Team coach is going to be interesting," said two-time Olympic gold medalistTamika Catchings. "I know that he knows how to win and obviously he knows what he's looking for in his players and his team to perform as a group. I'm definitely looking forward to coming back and playing with the USA National Team."
Most recently, Auriemma guided the Huskies during the 2008-09 season to his third undefeated season with a 39-0 mark, while capturing the BIG EAST Conference regular season and tournament crown and the NCAA title. In doing so, with his 71st NCAA Tournament win Auriemma tied 2008 U.S. Olympic Team and Duke University head coach Mike Krzyewski for the second-most all-time victories in NCAA history, men's or women's. For his efforts, Auriemma was the consensus 2009 national coach of the year after earning his sixth Associated Press Coach of the Year, sixth Naismith Women's Basketball Coach of the Year, fourth USBWA National Coach of the Year, fifth WBCA Coach of the Year, and eighth BIG EAST Coach of the Year honor.
Auriemma, who currently owns an astounding 696-122 record for a stunning 85.1 winning percentage, heads up what many have termed the most successful basketball program of this decade, winning five of the nine NCAA crowns since 2000. At the helm of Connecticut since the 1985-86 season, his teams have captured a total of six NCAA titles (1995, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2009) in 10 Final Four appearances and collected a combined 32 regular season and Big East Conference Tournament championships. Auriemma also is the first women's coach to guide a team to five straight Final Fours (2000-04).