Auriemma becomes first two-time USA Women's Basketball Olympic Coach
Published: Friday, September 6, 2013
Updated: Friday, September 6, 2013 14:09
Following Thursday’s initial announcement, Geno Auriemma was formally introduced as the next head coach for USA Women’s Basketball on Friday at a press conference in Gampel Pavilion.
Auriemma, who also served as the head coach for the 2012 Olympics in London, when the US won gold, will hold the job through the 2016 Games, making him the first repeat Olympic coach in the 37-year history of the USA women’s national team.
Prior to accepting the job for the second time, Auriemma had repeatedly stated that he would not return to coach the squad in the upcoming Brazil Games or 2014 FIBA World Championship.
“First of all, I was never asked, so I didn’t want to presume anything,” Auriemma said. “And second of all, I really did think USA Basketball on the women’s side has never done that, why should I presume that I would be the first one to do that?”
But once he was asked by USA Basketball Chairman Jerry Colangelo and USA Basketball Women’s National Team Director Carol Callan, among others, to repeat in the head role, he was willing to reconsider his stance.
The initial phone call from USA Basketball came on July 31, the day Auriemma and his UConn team was scheduled to appear at the White House for their championship visit – and a coincidence that was not lost on the coach.
“This was planned,” Auriemma smirked, “that while you’re there in Washington D.C., you’re being asked to represent your country again. And they’ll tell you, I told them, ‘I just need some time to think about it and make sure this is the right thing for my family and for me and it’s the right thing for USA Basketball.
“And the more I thought about it and the more time passed, it became pretty apparent to me and to my family that yeah, this was the right thing to do. That when people have this much confidence in you and people ask you to do something that’s not easy to do and they have a lot of admiration for the way you’ve done it in the past, that means a lot.”
Auriemma did joke that his assistant coaches at UConn – the likes of Shea Ralph, Marisa Moseley and Chris Dailey – were somewhat hesitant on his plan to double-dip due to the extra workload it means for them, but were ultimately glad to be a part of the process.
While those in Storrs may have been a bit more difficult, his return to the national team was a relief to Colangelo and USA Basketball as a whole. The program is attempting to enhance uniformity within their program to help ease the transition for players who are committed to playing professionally year round and have little time to train together for international competitions.
Though Auriemma did take some time to mull his decision, in the end, both Callan and Colangelo said it didn’t take much convincing to get him back in the national-team saddle.
“Competitive people are willing to take challenges, even when the risk is as great as it might be,” Colangelo said. “And I think Geno is just like [USA men’s coach Mike Krzyzewski] in that sense. Yes, there’s some things to gain and some things to lose, and it’s easy if you’re not a competitor to say, ‘I’ll pass,’ but that’s not an option for a real competitor.”
“Ultimately I think the key is that Geno – and this will sound corny – is a great American, simply put,” Callan said. “He has a passion for women’s basketball, he understands the difficulty of winning…maybe the fact that he won an eighth national championship coming off of the Olympics shows he can do quite a few things well at the same time.”
Auriemma’s quest for a ninth national title with the Huskies will begin later this month, as the college basketball season officially begins when practice opens on Sept. 26.
In the meantime, his duties for USA Basketball have already resumed, as he said that he and others within the organization have already begun contacting players from the 2012 Olympic team to gauge interest in returning, along with selecting some potential new faces to bring into the fold.
In addition, the women’s national team is currently planning a three-day training camp, which will be held sometime in the near future, according to Callan.
The first competitive event that Auriemma will coach in his latest stint with Team USA comes in September and October of 2014, when the FIBA World Championship takes place in Istanbul.