11 - 19
June 2021
Dawn Staley (USA)
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USA's Dawn Staley looks forward to a 'very competitive AmeriCup'

MIAMI (USA) - The defending FIBA Women’s AmeriCup champions, team USA, are no strangers to success – if anything, nothing less is expected of them. Ranked #1 in the world, they have a chance to claim gold at the AmeriCup and reach the qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup, as well grab gold at the Olympics in both 3x3 and 5-on-5 play.

USA’s roster this year is looking quite different – moving to a roster of current collegiate athletes, many who appeared in the women’s Final Four this spring and made their case for a spot in the USA basketball program for the first time. However, one thing stayed constant – head coach Dawn Staley.

“When you have a group of young players like we have coming into this year’s AmeriCup, it presents challenges because we’ve got a week to prepare for teams who have been practicing for a very long time as a cohesive unit,” said team USA head coach Dawn Staley.

“We’re on guard, we make sure that we have chemistry, make sure we have a sense of playing together and sharing the basketball, the team we brought in years ago had a lot of that already built in, but we are probably expected to win, we have to keep that mindset of playing our best basketball.”

Staley has had success in the AmeriCup not only as a coach, going 6-0 in 2019 and taking home gold, but as a player herself, winning gold in 1993 and holding the record for most assists for USA in the tournament with 34.

Earning another 6-0 record and the gold medal at the 2018 FIBA Women's World Cup, Staley is confident in team USA’s ability to secure their bid for the 2022 qualifiers. Her knack for developing players into gold medal contenders on a world stage is a big part in why she is the current head coach for all women’s senior national teams competing this summer – and why players want to learn from her.

“I think it helps the chemistry when young people want to play for USA basketball and particularly for me, I think it’s cool, they see some of the things that I’ve accomplished playing for team USA, they want to follow suit and obviously I’ve got a great deal of experience that I can give way to them,” Staley said.

“When young people are open to that, they seem to find themselves in successful situations, hopefully I can instill that in them and I know that having them around has been really refreshing – they just want to win, they just want to work hard, they love basketball and when you’re in that setting it helps the whole morale.”

Aliyah Boston, who just finished her sophomore season at the University of South Carolina under Staley’s leadership, is one of the veterans for team USA in the tournament, a multi-gold medalist in the junior categories including the 2019 FIBA U19 World Cup and the 2017 FIBA Americas U16 Championship.

“It shows that team USA continues to see something in me, I’m really excited about it and we have great talents on this team so I am grateful that I can be part of that leadership group,” said Aliyah Boston.

“It’s a surreal feeling, to be part of that, it’s really exciting, a lot of people want to play with team USA and to get there is really hard, so I am just so happy.”

Though Boston gets to work with Staley year-round, it’s not lost on Boston that her teammates for team USA are drawn to the development Staley puts into her players on an international level just as much as she does at South Carolina.

A’ja Wilson, USA senior national team member, 2020 WNBA MVP and NCAA national champion under Staley, credits much of her success to her coach, and Boston recognizes that she is next in line for this type of greatness with Staley’s leadership going into the AmeriCup.

“It helps understanding what coach Staley thinks, it is a different type of game from college with the shot clock and how fast the game moves, I’m excited to learn with her,” Boston said.

With the United States being the favorites to win, the responsibility to not only develop players into the next generational talents but to keep up the USA gold standard is on the forefront of Staley’s mind going into the AmeriCup, hoping to reach the World Cup qualifiers.

Though teams like Canada, Brazil and host nation Puerto Rico are also ranked in the top four of the Americas, Staley recognizes no team is light work and the ever-growing talents in women’s basketball will be on show during this year’s competition in San Juan.

“We’re always the team with the targets on our backs, and I feel like every time we step on the floor we have to be ready, we don’t take any team lightly – Brazil plays well, Puerto Rico is at home, Colombia is also a team that has played extremely well, and I can go down the line,” Staley said.

“Regardless we have to perform, we have to respect every single opponent that we face and we’re looking forward to having a very competitive AmeriCup.”