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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Staley excited about USA Basketball gigs

South Carolina coach Dawn Staley views any association with USA Basketball as "probably the ultimate experience of my life."

So when USA Basketball came calling twice to have Staley coach national teams this summer, she didn't hesitate.

"I have been in USA Basketball for over half of my life so anytime I get the opportunity to come in this culture, you don't have to ask twice," said Staley, who is the head coach of the U-18 women's team and an assistant coach on Geno Auriemma's national team staff. "I look forward to it and hopefully I can continue to be among the coaches in this culture because it is tremendous.

"It is exciting. I love basketball, I love the opportunity to shape young people's lives through basketball. Their experiences with USA Basketball, I hope I can be a dream merchant for them and allow them to dream big and one day hopefully represent our country at '18s, '19s, World Championships and ultimately at the Olympics."

Staley, a three-time Olympian as a player, didn't have all the junior national programs to play in when she was growing up and she appreciates more than most people how good this current generation has it.

"I think anytime you get exposure to this top level player it is only going to make them better so for them it is a tremendous opportunity," Staley said. "USA Basketball is always trying to find ways to better our game and this trials is one way to do it."

It won't be long before Staley will be heading to Maryland for the national team training camp in preparation for the FIBA World Championships where she will work aside Auriemma and fellow assistant coaches Doug Bruno of DePaul and Cheryl Reeve of the WNBA champion Minnesota Lynx..

"I think it is going to be fun," Staley said. "I think the staff that is put together is a hard-working staff that is going to get the most out of the team and the bottom line is we are trying to win gold medals, it is gold or failure."

And about Auriemma?

"He is a winner, you can take anything away from Geno because all he does is win."

It is something Staley will see first hand when she takes her South Carolina team up to Connecticut to face Auriemma's two-time defending national champions. Originally the belief was the game would be played a few days before Christmas but Staley said she has been hearing it could be played in February.

"I think our players need to experience playing against a national-championship (team)," Staley said. "If we want to achieve a milestone like that, you have to play against the best teams in the country and obviously UConn is that and hopefully will give them a great game. That is what they keep saying. I think the game is going to be good for women's basketball so it doesn't matter whether it is February, November, the fact we have them on the schedule.

"We got people in Columbia earmarking to come and see the game, our Gamecock fans up in the Northeast they are talking about needing tickets and hopefully it will be a good experience for us. We are not going up there to lose, we are going there to win the basketball game."

Returning the nucleus from a team which earned a No. 1 seed in the 2014 NCAA tournament and U-18 camper A'ja Wilson leading a strong incoming freshman class, it's very possible that South Carolina could head into the season ranked only behind UConn in the national polls.

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