Kelly Graves Selected as USA U19 Assistant Coach - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather

Kelly Graves Selected as USA U19 Assistant Coach

Courtesy Gonzaga Athletics

Gonzaga University women's basketball head coach Kelly Graves, who in qualifying USA Basketball for the 2013 FIBA U19 World Championship for Women helped the 2012 USA U18 Women's National Team to a perfect 5-0 mark and the gold medal at the 2012 FIBA Americas U18 Championship as an assistant coach, will return in 2013 as an assistant coach and once again help lead the USA U19 World Championship Team in its quest for a fifth-straight gold medal at the U19 Worlds.

The University of Miami head coach Katie Maier will be the head coach with Graves and Nikki Caldwell of Louisiana State University acting as assistant coaches. The coaches, all of whom will be serving their second stint for USA Basketball in 2013, were selected by the 2009-12 USA Basketball Junior National Team Committee and approved by the USA Basketball Board of Directors.

"I'm thrilled about this," said Graves. "Last year, the entire experience was one of the greatest things I've ever done. It was one of the best experiences of my life. Working with Katie and Nikki was phenomenal. I learned so much from them, and I'm actually using a few of the things that we ran. I've had some success with it this year. It's been nice to keep in touch with them, and I consider them good friends as well as colleagues. I loved it, and I'm really looking forward to doing it again."

The USA U19 squad will compete in the 2013 FIBA U19 World Championship, hosted by Lithuania from July 18-28 in Klaipeda and Panevëþys. The FIBA U19 Worlds will feature 16 teams with athletes 19-years-old or younger (born on or after Jan. 1, 1994). While Lithuania earned an automatic berth to the tournament, the remaining 15 nations were determined by the five FIBA zone qualifiers in 2012. In addition to the U.S., nations qualified out of the FIBA Americas zone include Brazil (silver medalist), Argentina (bronze medalist) and Canada (fourth place). Senegal (gold medalist) and Mali (silver medalist) will represent FIBA Africa; advancing from FIBA Asia are China (gold medalist), Japan (silver medalist) and South Korea (bronze medalist); Australia took FIBA Oceania's spot after wining the best-of-three series against New Zealand; while FIBA Europe will be represented by France (gold medalist), Russia (silver medalist), Serbia (bronze medalist), Netherlands (fourth place) and Spain (fifth place).

The draw to determine the four preliminary round groupings was held on Jan. 17. Drawn into Group D, the U.S. will play its preliminary and second round games in Panevëþys, and opens against Lithuania on July 18, followed by China on July 19 and caps the preliminary round against Mali on July 20.

Trials to select the 12-member USA squad will be held May 16-19 at the U.S. Olympic Training Center (USOTC) in Colorado Springs, Colo. The team will regroup for training on July 1 at the USOTC prior to traveling to Lithuania for the competition.

"This coaching staff did a remarkable job last summer with the USA U18 National Team, optimizing the skills and contribution of each player," said Sue Donohoe, executive director of the Kay Yow Cancer Fund and chair of the 2009-12 USA Basketball Women's Junior National Team Committee. "They built a cohesive team on the sideline, which resulted in a great melding of talent on the court. With only nine healthy players available for the gold medal game and an early double-digit deficit, Katie Meier, Nikki Caldwell and Kelly Graves showed confidence that their team would fight back for the win, and it did. USA Basketball brings back three extremely talented coaches, who collectively built foundations of cohesiveness and teamwork last summer. The committee looks forward to this extraordinary coaching staff leading the USA U19 World Championship Team to a gold medal in Lithuania this summer."

Originally known as the FIBA Junior World Championship, the tournament was held every four years starting in 1985. FIBA changed its calendar in 2006 and now conducts the U19 World Championship every other year. USA women's teams are 57-12 in the U19/Junior World Championships, capturing a fourth-consecutive gold with an 8-1 record most recently in 2011.

Numerous top athletes have represented the United States at the U19s, including Alana Beard (2001); Essence Carson (2005); Tamika Catchings (1997); Crystal Langhorne (2005); Jantel Lavender (2007); Lisa Leslie (1989); Rebecca Lobo (1993); Maya Moore (2007); Nnemkadi Ogwumike (2009); Vickie Orr (1985); Courtney Paris (2005); Cappie Pondexter (2001); Katie Smith (1993); Dawn Staley (1989); Breanna Stewart (2011); Diana Taurasi (2001); Abby Waner (2005); and Candice Wiggins (2005). Additionally, eight athletes from the first seven USA U19 squads have advanced to compete in the Olympic Games, including Catchings, Leslie, Lobo, Moore, Pondexter, Smith, Staley and Taurasi.

In addition to Donohoe, the 2009-12 USA Basketball Women's Junior National Team Committee included NCAA appointees Joanne Boyle (University of Virginia), Coquese Washington (Penn State University) and Connie Yori (University of Nebraska). The athlete representative is current University of Notre Dame associate coach Beth Cunningham (1999 USA Pan American Games Team member).