Dawn Staley, USA U19 World Championship Team Ready For Next Test
After 15 practice and scrimmage sessions during its training camp in Colorado Springs, Colorado, the 2015 USA Basketball Women’s U19 World Championship Team today departed for Spain and its first taste of international competition. The U.S. will face U19 teams from Australia, Canada and host Spain in exhibition play in Mercia, Spain, from July 12-14.
For five athletes, it will be their first true taste of basketball played under FIBA’s rules. The remaining seven each have won at least one gold medal in international competition.
The USA coaching staff of head coach Dawn Staley (South Carolina) and assistant coaches Kim Barnes Arico (Michigan) and Jeff Walz (Louisville) have experience coaching internationally as well, as the trio worked together in coaching the 2014 USA U18 National Team to gold at the FIBA Americas U18 Championship.
Further, Staley, a three-time Olympic gold medalist as a player and an assistant coach for the 2008 and 2016 U.S. Olympic Teams, has more than 20 years of playing and coaching international basketball on her resume. In fact, her first USA Basketball team played in the inaugural FIBA U19 World Championship in 1989 (then known as the Junior World Championship).
As the first U.S. athlete to both compete in and then coach a USA U19 squad, Staley is striving for a better finish than her team had 26 years ago, which was a 3-4 record and seventh place. Training camp was the start of the team’s preparation, of course, and Staley said she is pleased with the team’s progress.
“Having two-a-day practices over the past week has been really tough and rewarding for our team,” Staley said. “They have gelled quickly, and they understand the task ahead of us to capture a gold medal in our upcoming competition.”
In addition to intrasquad scrimmaging, twice the U19s took on the 2015 U.S. Pan American Women’s Basketball Team, which provided some serious competition. The U19 team won the first scrimmage 74-68 and then the next night lost to the Pan Ams squad 73-70.
“Playing against our Pan Am Team allowed us to see the depth of our team,” Staley said. “It also helped develop trust in each other, which is something our team needs to be successful.”
That chemistry will be important as the USA prepares to fend off challenges at the FIBA U19 World Championship from 15 teams from throughout the world, including Australia, which over the past four U19 Worlds has finished no lower than fifth place, Canada, which finished with the silver medal at the 2014 FIBA Americas U18 Championship, and Spain, which over the past four U19s has earned two silver medals and finished in fourth place twice.
Fortunately, Staley and her players not only will have the chance tweak line-ups and work out any kinks during exhibition play, it also will face those three teams before a world title is on the line. Warming up against some of the best competition hopefully will pay off for the USA.
“As we head over to Spain, playing teams from Spain, Australia and Canada will give us a good sense of international style of play, which will be important before going to Russia.”
You can follow the 2015 USA U19 World Championship Team throughout its journey on Twitter at #USABwu19.
USA vs. Spain • July 18 @ 1:15 p.m. EDT (www.YouTube.com/FIBA)
USA vs. China • July 19 @ 1:15 p.m. EDT (www.YouTube.com/FIBA)
USA vs. Egypt • July 21 @ 1:15 p.m. EDT (www.YouTube.com/FIBA)
Round of 16 TBD • July 22
Quarterfinals TBD • July 24
Semifinals TBD • July 25
Finals TBD • July 26