US women's basketball team retains assistants for Olympics
STORRS, Conn. (AP) Geno Auriemma was happy to have his staff back together for the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
South Carolina's Dawn Staley, DePaul's Doug Bruno and Minnesota's Cheryl Reeve will again serve as assistant coaches to UConn's Auriemma when the Americans try to win a sixth consecutive Olympic gold medal. The group helped lead the U.S. to a title at the world championship in Turkey this past fall.
''The only thing more important than that continuity factor (of coaches) is having the continuity of the players,'' Auriemma said. ''Even if we had the same coaching staff, having a different group of players every year, the challenges would be even greater.''
Staley excelled on the court as a player, winning three Olympic gold medals, and also was an assistant coach for the 2008 Olympics.
Bruno worked with Auriemma at the 2012 London Games, guiding the Americans to their fifth straight gold. Reeve is getting her first chance to coach at an Olympics.
The announcement was made Monday, hours before Staley's top-ranked Gamecocks face Auriemma's No. 2 Huskies.
''I don't think what's going to happen tonight has any bearing on what we're doing right now; what we're doing right now won't have any bearing on tonight,'' Auriemma said of the afternoon news conference on game day. ''This is a celebration for us as a staff and USA Basketball in general.''
The event had many light moments, including when South Carolina freshman A'ja Wilson asked a question of the staff about what it took to make the team.
Her coach said it was simple.
''Our last trip, Doug was helping with the bags. Doug was getting off the plane, getting the bags and transporting them to the bus,'' Staley said. ''When no job is too big or small for anybody, that's what it's going to take - along with being good.''
Staley then quipped that she didn't see her players getting off the plane and doing that yet.
The assistant coaches and Auriemma were to receive their commemorative world championship rings before Monday night's game.
Follow Doug on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/dougfeinberg