COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- University of Miami head coach Katie Meier, who in qualifying USA Basketball for the 2013 FIBA U19 World Championship for Women guided 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, will return in 2013 to lead the USA U19 World Championship Team in its quest for a fifth-consecutive gold medal at the U19 Worlds. Also returning for a second-straight summer as assistants are collegiate head coaches Nikki Caldwell of Louisiana State University and Kelly Graves of Gonzaga University. 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.
The USA U19 squad will compete in the 2013 FIBA U19 World Championship, hosted by Lithuania from July 18-28 in Klaipeda and Panevė×ys. 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 Panevė×ys, 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."
A 12-year coaching veteran (2001-02 to present), Meier is in the middle of her eighth season (2005-06 to present) at Miami, where she has compiled a 140-101 record (all records as of 1/28/13) for a 58.1 winning percentage and advanced the Hurricanes to the NCAA second round in each of the last two years. Even more impressive is her record at Miami over the last three-plus seasons. Since 2010-11 and through the first 20 games this year, Meier's record is 90-31 for a stunning 74.4 winning percentage.
The current Meier Miami squad is 14-6, including 5-4 in Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) play.
"It's a blessing to have such experience, confidence and knowledge with this staff," said Meier, the 2011 Associated Press Co-National Coach of the Year. "Mainly, with the players, just to have coaches who relate so well to them. A lot of times if you put three head coaches together, they've not been hands-on with their own team, but when you take the three of us and how we run our program, we're very involved with our players personally. That really came out this summer. I think the players felt well communicated to, very much taken care of, very clear, very confident about their roles and received a lot of support and a ton of knowledge. I thought we had great staff dynamics. We had great chemistry between the staff and the team, so I'm 100 percent fired up about this staff being together again."
Currently 12-8 (all records as of 1/28/13) and in the middle of her second year at LSU, in her first season Caldwell led the Lady Tigers to a 23-11 record, including 13-4 in Southeastern Conference (SEC) play, the 2012 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.
Prior to LSU, Caldwell spent three years (2008-09 through 2010-11) at the helm of UCLA and owns an overall head coaching record of 107-45 (.704 winning percentage).
"I am deeply humbled and honored to have the opportunity to coach the FIBA U19 World Championship team," said Caldwell. "Not only will I work along the side of great coaches, but I look forward to working with talented and skilled players. I am thrilled to represent the United States at this elite level of basketball."
Currently in the middle of his 13th season as a NCAA Division I head coach, Graves through 21 games this season has piloted Gonzaga to a 16-5 mark (all records as of 1/28/13), including a 6-1 slate in West Coast Conference play. In all, he owns a 342-156 record (.687 winning percentage), including 276-130 mark at Gonzaga, and has guided teams to six NCAA Tournaments, advancing as far as the 2011 Elite Eight and 2010 and 2012 Sweet Sixteen, as well as four WNITs.
"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."
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).