Caldwell to coach USA Basketball
Lady Tiger head coach to serve as assistant for U18 national team
Tiger Rag News Services
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - LSU women’s basketball head coach Nikki Caldwell has earned the prestigious honor of serving as an assistant coach for the 2012 USA Basketball Women’s U18 National Team this August at the FIBA Americas U18 Championship in Puerto Rico, it was announced by the organization on Thursday.
Caldwell was chosen by the USA Basketball Junior National Team Committee and approved by the USA Basketball Board of Directors. Caldwell will team up with Gonzaga head coach Kelly Graves and assist head coach Katie Meier from the University of Miami.
“To represent our country is a tremendous honor,” said Caldwell. “I am thrilled by the opportunity to work with a fantastic group of people. The pride that comes with taking the floor as a member of the red, white and blue is something you are truly blessed to be a part of. I think there is a certain standard that you have to live up to as a coach for USA Basketball. We will represent our country with honor, dignity and discipline for the game.
“This will ultimately be a rewarding experience for each and every coach and player. I have great respect for Katie and Kelly and what they have accomplished at each of their programs. To be a part of the staff with them is something I am looking forward to.”
The USA U18 National Team will compete in the 2012 FIBA Americas U18 Championship, held in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Aug. 15-19, in hopes of securing a berth in the 2013 FIBA U19 World Championship. The FIBA Americas U18 Championship will feature eight national teams from North, South and Central America and the Caribbean, with the top three finishing teams qualifying for the 2013 FIBA U19 Worlds. Players eligible for this competition must have been born on or after Jan. 1, 1994.
Trials to select finalists for the USA squad will be held May 18-21 at the U.S. Olympic Training Center (USOTC) in Colorado Springs, Colo. Finalists will regroup at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Fla., May 28-June 2, where the final 12-member team is expected to be announced. The USA will then return to the USOTC for its final training camp Aug. 3-14, prior to traveling to Puerto Rico for the competition.
“The committee is very enthusiastic about this coaching staff,” said USA Junior National Team Committee chair Sue Donohoe, executive director of the Kay Yow Cancer Fund. “In Katie Meier, Nikki Caldwell and Kelly Graves, we have three very good coaches who have proven they have what it takes to represent USA Basketball. They are enthusiastic, smart, driven to succeed and know what it takes to win.
“We feel extremely confident that these three coaches will not only be able to continue the USA’s five consecutive gold medal streak at the FIBA Americas U18 Championship, they’ll do so in a manner that is representative of USA Basketball.”
Having recently completed a successful first year at LSU, Caldwell in 2011-12 led the Lady Tigers to a 23-11 record, including 13-4 in Southeastern Conference (SEC) play, the SEC Tournament championship game and the second round of the NCAA Tournament. For her efforts, the Louisiana Sports Writers Association named Caldwell its 2012 Louisiana Coach of the Year.
Under her guidance, LSU posted its highest win total since the 2008 Final Four season, defeated league champion Kentucky twice and posted five victories against ranked teams, representing the most since 2008.
Caldwell has compiled a 95-37 record in four seasons as head coach. She has won 81.8 percent (500-112) of her games as a player, graduate assistant, assistant coach and head coach dating back to her freshman season of 1990-91 at Tennessee.
Caldwell adds to a proud legacy of LSU student-athletes and coaches representing USA Basketball on the international stage. Later this summer, WNBA stars and former LSU first-team All-Americans Sylvia Fowles and Seimone Augustus go for their second consecutive Olympic gold medal at the 2012 London Games.