Geno Auriemma set for 2016
Geno Auriemma will return to coach the U.S. women's basketball team at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, USA Basketball announced Friday.
Auriemma will be the first repeat coach for the U.S. women's team, which has won gold at the past five Olympics. Mike Krzyzewski decided in May that he would return to coach the men for a third time.
Auriemma's team cruised through the 2012 London Games, winning by an average of 34 points, including an 86-50 rout of France for the gold medal.
Since the end of the Olympics, Auriemma denied interest in coaching in Rio and repeatedly said he would not return if asked.
"When people asked me if I was going to do this again, throughout the course of the spring and the summer, I said exactly how I was feeling. I had done it, it was great and it was unbelievable but I felt like it was time to move on to something different," said Auriemma, who added that the women's national team steering committee and USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo lobbied heavily. "They were a very persuasive bunch on what it means to our country. When these people tell you that they admire what you have done and they want you to do it again, it means a lot. This is not an opportunity that comes along too often. I was humbled by the request and I'm honored to do it again."
He has a chance now to be the first women's coach to repeat as a gold medalist.
"We have traditionally picked a coach for four years and rotated that every four years and had great success with that," women's national team director Carol Callan said this summer. "We've had several who could repeat, but we never had gotten through to that discussion."
That group includes Naismith Memorial Hall of Famers Pat Summitt, Tara VanDerveer, Kay Yow and Van Chancellor.
Auriemma had felt his Olympic duties took too much time from his coaching at UConn. Still, the Huskies won an eighth national championship in April to match Tennessee for the most in women's basketball. With most of his team returning, including Breanna Stewart, the Huskies look poised to repeat.
On the Olympic front, the U.S. women play at the world championships in the fall of 2014 in Turkey, where a victory would qualify the team for Rio.
Auriemma can expect the return of veterans Diana Taurasi, Sue Bird and Tamika Catchings. All three have said they would play in Rio if healthy. In fact, most of the roster from the 2012 Games could return, with stars Candace Parker, Maya Moore and Tina Charles all reaching their prime. Then there's a wealth of young talent with WNBA rookies Elena Delle Donne and Brittney Griner.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.