Gillom to assist on Auriemma's US team
Jen Gillom has entered an exclusive club.
The 1988 Olympic gold medalist will be an assistant on the women's basketball team for the London Olympics, making her just the fourth person to be both a player and coach in the games. Pat Summitt, Anne Donovan and Dawn Staley were the other three - all of them won gold medals in both roles.
Gillom is joined on the London staff by Doug Bruno and Marynell Meadors. The trio assisting head coach Geno Auriemma was announced Friday at a press conference in Chicago.
''It has been a long time, hasn't it?'' said Gillom, hired as an assistant coach by the Washington Mystics on Tuesday. ''When I played on the 1988 Olympic team and brought home a gold medal, it was a dream come true. Returning to the world stage as a coach completes a basketball journey that has come full circle for me. That brings joy to my heart.''
Bruno's 21st-ranked DePaul team will face No. 3 Connecticut and Auriemma on Saturday night in a Big East game. He admitted that he first got interested in USA basketball in 1959 when his father took him to the Pan-Am games in Chicago, where he saw Oscar Robertson and Jerry West play. Bruno has had a successful career at DePaul and got started with U.S. basketball when he coached the 2006 Under-18 team to a gold medal and then won the Under-19 World Championships the next year.
''USA basketball is a special, special organization,'' Bruno said. ''You love this country.''
Meadors guided the Atlanta Dream to the WNBA finals the past two seasons.
''We're going out to win the gold and keep it in the United States,'' she said.
The three were all part of the staff that won the FIBA World Championships in 2010 to earn the U.S. an automatic bid to the London Games.
''Having continuity is great for the team,'' said Tamika Catchings, who has won a gold medal for the U.S. in the past three Olympics. ''We've built relationships with them over the past three years and it would be strange if they weren't around for London.''
It's been rare that the assistants from the world championship team didn't go on to be assistants for the Olympics.
The U.S. has won the last four gold medals and owns a 33-game winning streak in the Olympics, dating to the 1992 bronze medal game.
The London Olympic team will be selected this spring from the 27-member national team pool that includes Catchings, Diana Taurasi, Sue Bird, Maya Moore, Candace Parker, Sylvia Fowles, and college junior Brittney Griner.
The Olympics begin July 27.