from Richard at Sports Illustrated: No team under more pressure to win gold in 2012 than U.S. women
Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer, who coached the U.S. to victory in 1996 at the Atlanta Games, said there was not a day she coached the national team where she did not feel the gold-or-bust pressure.”Everyone thinks we’re going to win the gold medal,” VanDerveer said. “When we met the president during that year, or met Supreme Court justices, they’re like, ‘Bring back the gold.’ I felt it [the pressure] every minute. There’s no doubt that we can beat any country four out of seven, but this is not that kind of tournament. It’s like the NCAA tournament.”
Flashback: In '05 there was some muttering within the college ranks about who was being selected as USA Basketball coaches and how that might give them a recruiting advantage. From Coaching USA Basketball: A Road Paved With Gold? – April 2005
“We heard those stories way back,” said Wall, recalling in particular the reaction to the rapid elevation of one young person to a coaching position. “We moved Pat Head up very quickly because of the fact she was an outstanding player and, we all know now, had the making of a helluva fine coach.”
This is not to say these issues are not legitimate and worthy of discussion. But it is useful to put them in context of the very explicit mission of USA Basketball: To win gold medals.
To those within USAB, agendas that distract from that goal, especially the idea a coach coaching the younger teams might attempt to recruit those players, seem incomprehensible. Anne Donovan, who has been involved in USA Basketball since 1983, first as a player and most recently an assistant coach for the Gold medal winning team in Athens, seemed almost stunned at the possibility. “I understand and recognize why they’d be concerned but – and forgive me, but I’ve been so entrenched in USA Basketball for more than half my life – that organization is not run with that intent. You’ve got all these all-stars who want to play, all who have been starters, and now you’re the coach that doesn’t think they’re a starter? You’re going to make five friends – your five starters. And you better win a medal, because that also affects their career. USA Basketball program has been so much about gold and silver medals, that anything less than that is almost unacceptable.”