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Villanova University (Pa.) head coach Jay Wright, who most recently led the U.S. to gold at the 2005 World University Games, has been selected head coach of the 2007 USA Basketball Men's Pan American Games Team, while college head coaches Mark Gottfried o

Villanova University Mentor Jay Wright Chosen Head Coach Of 2007 USA Men's Pan American Games Team

May 24, 2007 � Colorado Springs, Colorado

 

Villanova University (Pa.) head coach Jay Wright, who most recently led the U.S. to gold at the 2005 World University Games, has been selected head coach of the 2007 USA Basketball Men's Pan American Games Team, while college head coaches Mark Gottfried of the University of Alabama and James Jones of Yale University were named assistant coaches. The coaching selections were made by the USA Basketball Men's Collegiate Committee, approved by USA Basketball's Executive Committee, and are pending final approval by the U.S. Olympic Committee Board of Directors.

Trials for the 2007 USA Basketball Men's Pan American Games Team will be conducted July 12-14 at Haverford College (Haverford, Pa.). Selected finalists for the 12-member USA Men's Pan American Games Team, will continue training July 15-20 at Haverford College and the official 12-member USA Team will be selected before the team departs for Brazil on July 21. The list of athletes participating in the Trials will be announced at a later date. The Men's Collegiate Committee, chaired by Syracuse University head coach Jim Boeheim, is charged with the player selections for the 2007 USA Pan American Games Trials and the official 12-member team as well.

'Jay Wright won a gold medal in 2005 at the World University Games and is a proven international coach and a tremendous college coach who will do an excellent job representing the United States. Mark Gottfried and James Jones are two proven college head coaches who will bring a lot of valuable experience to the USA coaching staff,' stated Boeheim on the coaching staff selections.

Jay Wright, who guided the 2005 USA World University Games to a sparkling 8-0 record and the gold medal, will look to bring home gold once again as he heads the 2007 USA Pan American Games coaching staff.

'It is a prestigious honor to be named head coach for the USA team in the 2007 Pan American Games. I'm grateful to te USA Basketball Collegiate Committee and the committee for their confidence in myself and our staff,' said Wright.

'Coaching for USA Basketball has been a uniquely fulfilling experience for me. I am thrilled to work with Mark Gottfried and James Jones, two of the top coaches in America. Mark Gottfried is an outstanding tactician and is very adept in preparing his teams for games. James Jones is a creative motivator and teacher. I am proud to work alongside these two outstanding coaches.

'Finally, the three of us are inspired and passionate about coaching the talented athletes that will be invited to try out for this team. We will all work our hardest to represent the United States and our great basketball heritage,' added Wright.

The Pan American Games, held every four years in the year prior to the Olympics, are scheduled for July 13-30, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The men's eight nation basketball competition is slated for July 25-29 and includes national teams from Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Panama, Puerto Rico, Uruguay, U.S. Virgin Islands.

The United States has been placed in preliminary round Group A with Argentina, Panama and Uruguay. Group B consists of Brazil, Canada, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The U.S. opens preliminary play July 25 facing Uruguay (10 p.m., all times local), then meets Panama on July 26 (7:45 p.m.) and will finish off preliminary round action against Argentina on July 27 (7:45 p.m.). Semifinals will be held on July 28 and the finals will be played July 29.

Jay Wright

Villanova head mentor Jay Wright is making his third appearance as a member of a USA Basketball coaching staff.

Wright is making his third appearance on a USA Basketball coaching staff. Head coach of the 2005 USA World University Games Team that won the gold medal in Izmir, Turkey, Wright's USA team was dominant in amassing an 8-0 record by an average margin of victory of 29.9 points per game. For his efforts Wright was named the 2005 USA Basketball Co-Developmental Coach of the Year. Wright was also an assistant coach for the 2000 World Championship For Young Men Qualifying Tournament, where the U.S. earned its 2001 FIBA World Championship For Young Men berth, and finished with a 4-1 record and in possession of the silver medal.

A 13-year head coach at Villanova (2001-02 to present) and Hofstra University (N.Y.) (1994-95 through 2000-01), Wright has tallied an overall slate of 248-155 (.615 winning percentage), and advanced teams to postseason play in each of the last nine seasons, including five NCAA Tournaments and four National Invitational Tournaments (NIT).

Under Wright's tutelage, Villanova has appeared in each of the last three NCAA Tournaments, advancing to the Elite Eight in 2006 and Sweet 16 in 2005 (in both years they were eliminated by the eventual NCAA national champion). In that span he has amassed a striking record of 74-24 (.755 winning percentage), and captured three Philadelphia Big Five crowns and a Big East Conference regular season championship (2006).

In 2006-07, Wright's Wildcats recorded a 22-11 campaign, winning seven of their last nine regular season games to earn an at-large bid to the 2007 NCAA Tournament. The 'Cats also extended their school record Philadelphia Big Five winning streak to 11 straight with a perfect 4-0 record against their City Series rivals (LaSalle, Pennsylvania, St. Joseph's and Temple).

The 2005-06 season was one of the most memorable campaigns in the annals of Villanova basketball. Despite the October loss of All-Big East forward Curtis Sumpter to season-ending knee surgery, Wright's squad finished 28-5, the most wins in school history, while earning a share of the Big East Conference regular season title. Villanova spent the entire season ranked in the top 10 of both the Associated Press and USA Today/ESPN polls, climbing as high as No. 2 in February. The Wildcats were rewarded with the first NCAA Tournament No. 1 seed in the program's history and advanced to the Elite Eight for the first time since 1988.

Wright's efforts were rewarded when he earned national coach of the year honors from CBS/Chevrolet; the Naismith Awards; and the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC). Wright was also named Big East Coach of the Year and earned the Harry Litwack Award as the Eastern College Coach of the Year from the Herb Good Club in Philadelphia.

Wright in 2004-05 guided the Wildcats to a 24-8 mark and the NCAA Sweet Sixteen, where they were narrowly edged by eventual national champion North Carolina. The Wildcats finished the year ranked No. 13 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll and Wright capped the season as the 2005 Philadelphia Big Five Coach of the Year.

In his first three years at Villanova's helm Wright, who returned to the Wildcats after acting as a five-year (1987-88 through 1991-92) assistant coach, posted a 52-46 record (.531 winning percentage) and competed in a trio of NITs, advancing to the 2002 and 2004 NIT quarterfinals. His overall Villanova record currently stands at 126-70 (.643 winning percentage).

Wright spent his first seven years as a head coach on the Hofstra sidelines and compiled a 122-85 record (.589 winning percentage. During his first two years he rebuilt a program that had posted just one winning season in the previous eight years. In his third season, 1996-97, Hofstra finished 12-15 overall and in fourth place in the America East Conference with a 9-9 record. After closing 1998 with a 19-12 record, Wright propelled Hofstra in 1999 into the National Invitational Tournament, the school's first post-season tournament in 21 years, as his squad posted a 22-10 record.

Wright led Hofstra in 1999-2000 to a stellar 24-7 record and a 16-2 conference record to snag the regular season America East title. He went on to guide Hofstra to the America East Tournament crown and a berth in the NCAA Tournament - the program's third such appearance since entering NCAA Division I competition in the 1972-73 season, and just the seventh since the inception of Hofstra's basketball program in the 1936-37 season. Wright's coaching accomplishments did not go unnoticed by his peers as he was honored as the 2000 America East Coach of the Year and was also tabbed Eastern Basketball's Coach of the Year.

His final season at Hofstra saw the 2000-01 squad post a 26-5 record, collect the America East regular season and tournament championships, advance to the NCAA Tournament and Wright earned his second America East Coach of the Year award.
Academic success has also been a key component of Wright's coaching career. Every player who has spent four years with Wright's programs at Villanova and Hofstra has earned his college degree.

Prior to assuming the reigns at Hofstra, Wright spent 10 years (1984-85 through 1993-94) as an assistant coach at four different universities, including two years at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas (1992-93 and 1993-94), five years at Villanova, one-year at Drexel University (Pa.) (1986-87) and he began his coaching career with two years (1984-85 and 1985-86) at the University of Rochester (N.Y.). As an assistant, Wright aided six of his last seven teams to postseason play, including three NCAA Tournaments (1988, 1990 and 1991) and three NITs (1989, 1992 and 1993).

A 1983 graduate of Bucknell University (Pa.), Wright was a four-year letterwinner as a member of Bucknell's basketball team. He was honored as his team's Benton A. Kribbs award winner for the most outstanding contribution as a junior in 1982 and named as a co-recipient of the team's Malcom E. Musser leadership award as a senior in 1983.

Mark Gottfried

Mark Gottfried will make his first appearance along the USA Basketball sidelines at the 2007 Pan American Games. (Photo: University of Alabama)

'I think it's just a tremendous honor. To represent your country is such a privilege, and to be around the best players in the nation as well is going to be a lot of fun. I've always respected USA Basketball. I have been a fan of international play, and I am extremely excited about this opportunity,'said Gottfried.

Gottfried, who is making his first appearance on the sidelines for USA Basketball, was named the University of Alabama's head coach on March 25, 1998, and in nine seasons (1989-99 through 2006-07) has directed �Bama to a 181-108 record (.626 winning percentage), while capturing one Southeastern Conference (SEC) title (2002) and making five NCAA and three NIT tournaments.

Having led the Tide to 20 or more wins in five of Alabama's past seven seasons, in 2006-07 his squad ran up a 20-12 overall record and earned a NIT appearance, Alabama's seventh consecutive postseason appearance. Finishing 18-13 and advancing to the NCAA Tournament second round in 2005-06, the 2004-05 campaign saw the Tide tally a 24-8 record, tie for first in the SEC West and make another NCAA Tournament appearance. Advancing to the NCAA Final eight in 2003-04 and compiling a 20-13 overall mark, 2002-03 saw Alabama earn another NCAA Tournament appearance.

Gottfried's 2001-02 �Bama team was his most successful team to date. Rolling to a 27-8 record while outright taking the SEC regular season title, Alabama advanced to the NCAA Tournament second round. His 2002 team set a school record for single season home wins with a perfect 17-0 mark. For his effort, Gottfried was named the 2002 Associated Press and coaches' SEC Coach of the Year; and the 2002 NABC District 6 Coach of the Year.

Rebuilding his first two seasons at Alabama, Gottfried's team in year three, 2000-01, finished 25-11 and advanced to the NIT championship game.

Prior to his arrival in Tuscaloosa, Gottfried served as the head coach at Murray State University (Ky.) for three seasons (1995-96 through 1997-98), his teams posted a collective mark of 68-24 for a sterling 73.9 winning percentage. Compiling records of 19-10 in 1995-96, 20-10 in 1996-97, and 29-4 in 1997-98, Murray State advanced to the NCAA tournament in 1997 and again in 1998, and made the NIT in his first season there in 1996. Gottfried became the first Ohio Valley Conference (OVC) coach to win three OVC titles in only three seasons. Additionally, MSU had 30-game home win streak when Gottfried left for Alabama.

Gottfried got his start in college coaching as a graduate assistant and as an assistant coach at UCLA, spending seven seasons (1988-89 through 1994-95) there. While at UCLA he helped the Bruins amass a 168-55 record (.753 winning percentage) that included seven NCAA appearances and the 1995 NCAA national championship.

Also a standout basketball player, Gottfried attended Oral Roberts University on a basketball scholarship his freshman season (1982-83) and earned Freshman All-America honors. Transferring to Alabama, he collected Academic All-Southeastern Conference honors and was named the recipient of Alabama's 1986 Bryant Award as the top Alabama scholar-athlete. Starting 98 consecutive games, he helped the Tide from 1984-85 through 1986-97 compile a 75-24 record and reach the NCAA Tournament 'Sweet 16' in all three seasons. Averaging 10.3 ppg. as a senior, Alabama concluded the 1986-87 season with a 28-5 record, and captured the SEC regular season and tournament championships. Drafted by the Detroit Pistons in the seventh round of the 1987 NBA Draft, he toured internationally with Athletes in Action in 1987-88 and returned in 1989 to coach a summer tour in Poland and Greece with an AIA team that finished 10-3.

James Jones

A court coach for the 2006 USA Men's U18 National Team Trials, James Jones' selection to the USA Pan American Games coaching staff is his first team coaching assignment.

'I'm extremely proud to have been selected as an assistant coach to this year's Pan Am Games. It is such an honor to represent the USA and work with some of the best coaches and players the world has to offer,' Jones sa
id.

The 2007 Pan American Games assignment is Jones' second coaching experience with USA Basketball. He was previously selected by the USA Basketball Men's Collegiate Committee as a court coach for the 2006 USA Men's U18 National Team Trials.

Jones has made quite an impact on the Yale basketball program. In eight seasons (1999-2000 through 2006-07), Jones has guided Yale to success not seen in New Haven in 40 years.

Jones, the longest tenured coach in the Ivy League, earned his 100th victory at Yale when the Bulldogs beat Columbia on Feb. 9, 2007. He is only the fourth coach in school history with at least 100 wins. His overall record at Yale is 104-119, including a 62-50 (.554) mark in Ivy games. The Bulldogs have won at least 10 Ivy games twice during his tenure and have had a .500 or better record in league play in each of the last seven years, which hasn't happened at Yale since the official start of Ivy play in 1956-57.

In 2001-02, Jones led the Bulldogs to their first Ivy League title since 1962-63 and the first postseason tournament victory in the 107-year history of Yale basketball. The team won 21 games, the second most in the modern era of Yale basketball, and reached the second round of the National Invitation Tournament. Jones' success did not go unnoticed. He was named the Ivy League Coach of the Year by Basketball America and CollegeInsider.com. Following Yale's weekend sweep of Penn and Princeton, Dick Vitale selected Jones as his Coach of the Week.

Jones was named Yale's 22nd head coach on April 27, 1999, and he immediately put his stamp on the program as the Bulldogs more than doubled their Division I win total from the previous season and improved to fifth place in the Ivy League. In 2000-2001 the turnaround continued as Yale entered the final weekend of the regular season in the hunt for the Ivy League championship.

In the 2001-02, Jones guided the Bulldogs to one of the most memorable seasons in school history. Yale finished 21-11 and earned a share of the Ivy title with Penn and Princeton. The Bulldogs upset Rutgers in the first round of the NIT before falling to Tennessee Tech. In the process the Bulldogs set school records for points scored (2394), 3-pointers made (228) and attempted (671), and for most free throws made (558) and attempted (796).

Jones spent two seasons (1995-96 and 1996-97) as an assistant coach at Yale and was also an assistant at Ohio University for two years (1997-98 and 1998-99).
Jones got his start in college coaching as an assistant coach at his alma mater, the University at Albany (N.Y.). In his five seasons (1990-91 to 1994-95) at Albany, the Great Danes tallied a 93-40 overall record (.699 winning percentage) and made three appearances in the NCAA Division III Tournament. In his final two seasons coaching at Albany, he assisted teams to a 43-11 record (.796 winning percentage). Albany's 1993-94 squad finished the year 25-3 and reached the NCAA Division III Tournament Elite Eight.

Jones graduated from Albany in 1986 and in 1995 earned his master's. As a player at Albany, Jones was captain of the freshman team and was selected as the team's Freshman of the Year. He played for and coached with the legendary Dr. Richard Sauers, one of only seven collegiate coaches to win more than 700 games.

USA Men In The Pan American Games
The Pan American Games, held every four years in the year prior to the Olympics and organized by the Pan American Sports Organization (PASO), is a multi-sport competition open to men and women representing countries from North, South and Central America and the Caribbean.

This summer the Pan American Games will be held July 13-30, with the men's basketball competition slated for July 25-29, in Rio de Janerio, Brazil.

At the 2003 Pan American Games in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, the USA men, featuring a team comprised of college players, suffered three narrow defeats in five games to place fourth. The USA men have earned medals in 12 of their 14 Pan Am Games appearances, including a record eight golds, as well as three silvers and one bronze. The U.S. men currently own an 81-11 (.880 winning percentage) all-time mark at the Pan Am Games.

Held since 1951, the USA dominated the first five Pan Am Games, earning five consecutive golds. At the 1971 Pan Ams, despite a record of 2-1 in the preliminary round, the USA did not advance to the medal round and for the first time in Pan American history did not win the gold medal. However, the United States rebounded for a 26-0 record over the next three Pan Am Games and captured its last Pan Am gold in 1983. While the gold has eluded the U.S. in the past five Games, with the Americans earning three silvers and a bronze medal, the United States is aiming high for 2007.

Many USA Basketball athletes who have been selected to a Pan American Games team have gone on to compete for the U.S. in the Olympic Games, while many others enjoyed stellar professional careers. In all, 34 USA Pan Am basketball players have been a member of a U.S. Olympic squad, including Ernie Grunfeld, Grant Hill, Luscious Jackson, Michael Jordan, Christian Laettner, Danny Manning, Chris Mullin, Emeka Okafor, Sam Perkins, Oscar Robertson, David Robinson, Isiah Thomas, Jerry West and Jo Jo White.

While the list of former Pan American Games players is impressive, so is the ledger of past head coaches. The list of head coaches of USA Pan American Games teams includes: Tom Izzo (2003); McHone (1999); Mike Thibault (1995); Gene Keady (1991); Denny Crum (1987); Jack Hartman (1983); Bob Knight (1979); Marv Harshman (1975); Jim Gudger (1971); Hal Fischer (1967); Garland Pinholster (1963); Fred Schaus (1959); Lt. Norman Pilgrim (1955); and Hal Fischer and John Longfellow (1951).

USA Basketball Men's Collegiate Committee
The USA Basketball Men's Collegiate Committee, in addition to chair Boeheim, consists of: NCAA appointees Fran Dunphy (head coach, Temple University, Pa.); Tom Izzo (head coach, Michigan State University); Ernie Kent (head coach, University of Oregon) and Tubby Smith (head coach, University of Minnesota); NABC appointee Bill Self (head coach, University of Kansas); NAIA appointee Bob Burchard (head coach, Columbia College, Mo.); NJCAA appointee Scott Schumacher (head coach, Kilgore C.C., Texas), and athlete representatives Steve Wojciechowski (1995 Junior World Championship team / assistant coach, Duke University, N.C.) and A.J. Wynder (1995 Pan American Games team / head coach, Nassau Community College, N.Y.).


2007 USA Men's Pan American Games Team Coaching Staff

Head Coach: Jay Wright, Villanova University
Assistant Coach: Mark Gottfried, University of Alabama
Assistant Coach: James Jones, Yale University