No deja vu’ needed at the Olympics

Since Geno Auriemma was named Olympic basketball coach for 2016, I have been thinking what a waste this is, to not give other coaches a chance. Connecticut-based columnist John Altavilla thought the same thing:

The coach of eight national champions at UConn is the first in the sport’s history to be invited to return to its most pressure-filled job…..

Still, the job and all of its inherent pressures, was something many women’s basketball coaches covet. And college coaches such Baylor’s Kim Mulkey and South Carolina’s Dawn Staley and WNBA coaches Mike Thibault, Brian Agler, Cheryl Reeve, Dan Hughes and Lin Dunn, among others, all possessed the credentials to assume they would be candidates.

The problem was, Jerry Colangelo, chairman of USA Basketball, and Carol Callan, the manager of the women’s program, had decided from the start they wanted to replicate a environment of continuity similar to what exists on the men’s side. Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski is serving his third straight term.

Altavilla is absolutely correct.

I’d like to see Mike Thibault – one of the most intelligent coaches I’ve ever spoken with – have a chance. Ditto Dawn Staley, Sylvia Hatchell (both just inducted into the Naismith Hall), Lin Dunn and Brian Agler. Who knows what special touches each one of these coaches could add to a talented group of athletes. I guess we won’t find out anytime soon.

What’s good for the men’s team isn’t necessarily good for the women; we should all know that by now. Last year the women’s team won their fifth consecutive gold medal, which isn’t something the men can say. They were good before Auriemma, and will continue to be, as the best players in the world come from the U.S. They don’t need Auriemma to preserve an already-established legacy.

I don’t like looking ahead to the Olympics already somewhat disappointed, but I am. Those who jockeyed for this deja vu have misguided notions.

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  1. I don't think that I have ever agreed with you more! And I agree with you most of the time.

    You hit the nail on the head…and I remember a couple of suspect player selections from the last Olympics that leaves me wondering if there will be a repeat of talented players not being selected for the team because they didn't go to a certain school…just sayin'

  2. Geno didn't want the job. USA basketball kept beating on him till he agreed to do it again. That fact has been well documented over the past several years. Like the guy has something to prove? It's just extra work for him. He is already going to be the greatest women's basketball coach of all time before he's done at UConn. Taurasi's quote is spot on…he would have been golfing if he didn't decide to answer the call from USA Basketball. Taking this responsibility on is social work for Auriemma.

    USA Basketball is trying to avoid the problems encountered by the men's national program decades ago when the rest of the world finally gained near parity with the US and we were still treating our national team like a sixty-day summer job for the coaches and players when our competitors were taking the challenge seriously. There was a time that we were good enough to do that on the men's side but that went away. USA Basketball is trying to avoid the same problem on the women's side by assuring the program has continuity and is positioned for success going forward. They obviously think Geno is the answer for 2016.

    The people and companies that donate millions of dollars to USA Basketball want and expect to win which seems reasonable since we have the best ballers on both the men's and women's side.

    As far as the whining about too many UConn ballers on Geno's national teams, that may be right on the fringes but by and large all of the Team USA ballers have belonged on the team and proven so by their performances.

    I'm a Louisville fan so if anyone should dislike the Huskies it's me. Here is why everyone hates UConn:

    – They have the best head coach and coaching staff
    – They get the best ballers
    – They win the most games, particularly over the past decade or so
    – Their alumni in the WNBA outperform all other schools substantially. It's not ever close.

    The only recent blemish Geno has on his pedigree is letting EDD get away. Other than that his is both literally and figuratively golden which is good for USA Basketball and our Olympic aspirations.

  3. I stand by my original comments.

    USA Basketball doesn't have to worry about the women's program faltering.

    As for your comments about Auriemma, I advise you not to make assumptions that 1. people don't like him and 2. assuming the reasons why those who don't care for him feel that way. You're not in their heads, and you don't know.

    My beliefs are nothing personal against Auriemma. As I stated, I am all for fresh blood. There are numerous other talented coaches who can fill the role in 2016 and get us another gold medal.

  4. Again, I agree with you Sue.

    I actually like and respect Geno as far as his ability to bring out the best of the best players. His work with the game of Breanna Stewart this past season was nothing short of amazing…she goes from riding the pine every game to being the best player in the gym every single night…her confidenve was shot, but he got her going and she never looked back…coaching…coaching…coaching…He's a winner and attracts the best…i guess that makes me jealous if anything… I just don't like nepotism. And I agree, there are a number of female (and male) coaches ready and waiting that could make us proud in 2016 as well…It's not like nobody wants the job…

  5. I would agree with some of these statements.

    On a side note, however, it may be good for the women's game if Geno is able to coach Brittney Griner in the next 3 years for the Olympics. She still has a lot to do to grow in her game, and Geno — perhaps the best active coach in the college game — might be able to help with that. Brittney has not dominated in the WNBA as was expected. If she were able to get better/become more dominant, I think this would very much help the women's game.

    Imagine her scoring more points, dunking more during WNBA games, learning new moves, and perhaps most important, gaining more muscle. The WNBA would be making Sports Center highlights every game..

  6. With both Geno and Coach K retained, I can't help but wonder if these choices are made more for bureaucratic rather than competitive purposes. Is this coaching continuity just further fallout from the men's debacle in '04 — a further step away from the "sixty-day summer job" approach that had worked well for so long?

    Also, who chooses the asst. coaches — head coach? committee? both?
    (Haven't the vast majority of Olympic head coaches, both men's and women's, logged time as assistants?)