Cheryl Reeve Aims to Create a Fast-Paced Identity for USA World Cup Team
Later this month, the U.S. Women’s National Team will seek to win its fourth consecutive World Cup title when the 2022 FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup begins in Australia.
As U.S. players gather in Las Vegas this week for a training camp in advance of the tournament, head coach Cheryl Reeve sought above all else to establish her team’s identity.
Reeve, who was named USA Women’s National Team head coach for the 2021-24 Olympic quad late last year, will focus more on what her players bring to the table and less on what opposing teams may feature in the competition, which begins Sept. 22 and runs through Oct. 1 in Sydney.
“You’re really locked in on what you do,” Reeve said. “You’re going to have your schemes and it’s going to be which of those schemes are you going to utilize against a team. Probably, by and large, (you’re) making sure that you’re playing to your identity more than you’re worried about them.”
Reeve, who has been with USA Basketball since 2014 and has a pair of Olympic gold medals and two World Cup gold medals as an assistant coach, knows what she wants to see in her team.
“We want to be a team that plays with some really good pace,” Reeve said. “I think every coach will sit here and tell you that. It’s one of the most annoying things coaches do, but I think making sure that our players understand what that means. It’s not a sometime sort of thing.”
Just because she wants her team to get up and down the court quickly doesn’t mean that Reeve wants loose play. She said she prioritizes efficiency and wants to make sure playing with a fast pace will translate into getting quality shots.
That offense will be triggered by point guards who will be looking for inside players who can run the floor, according to Reeve.
“I think we’re going to have the physical abilities,” Reeve said. “I want to make sure that we’re rebounding first and being able to then get out and go and see if you can’t play ahead of the possession. That’s a priority for every team.
“I’m not saying anything that wouldn’t be true for any other teams that we would play against. We all prioritize the same thing.”
Reeve will be pushing her players to produce that same intensity on the other side of the ball, as well. To get that two-way effort, Reeve plans to use her entire roster in Sydney.
“I think defensively being a team that’s going to be aggressive and give different looks,” she said. “We did that in February (at the World Cup qualifiers), and I thought we were pretty good there, so continuing to build that.”
Reeve, also the coach and general manager for the WNBA’s Minnesota Lynx, said she will stress a simplified system as she assembles a team in a short period of me.
Training camp began on Tuesday and runs through Monday. The current roster includes Ariel Atkins, Shakira Austin, Aliyah Boston, Diamond DeShields, Stefanie Dolson, Natasha Howard, Rhyne Howard, Sabrina Ionescu, Betnijah Laney, Kayla McBride, Angel McCoughtry, Aerial Powers, Katie Lou Samuelson and NaLyssa Smith. The roster is expected to change as the WNBA playoffs progress.
“In terms of looking at potential for the roster, we’re pretty open,” Reeve said. “Players are competing for spots. What team do we need to be as we hit Sydney? We’ll have a couple of scrimmages and that sort of thing that will be good for us.”
One of the camp’s highlights will be the Red-White Game, part of the 2022 USA Basketball Showcase Presented by Coinbase, which is set for Friday at 10 p.m. ET at Cox Pavilion on the campus of UNLV. The game will air live on NBA TV.
“We’re taking these steps,” Reeve said. “So, we don’t have the full collection (of players), and we may not until we’re over in Sydney and already started (World Cup) competition.
“Right now, we’re building. We’re not going to get so granular right now. We’re just going to take this as a process, and by the time I get to Sydney, then we really start to drill down as you get closer to your final team and you learn what your strengths are.”
The U.S. will open its World Cup pool play Sept. 22 against Belgium.
Bob Reinert is a freelance contributor to USAB.com on behalf of Red Line Editorial.