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.