Category Archives: Carol Callan

Carol Callan And The First Impression

by Categorized: Carol Callan, Geno Auriemma, Genos1000th, UConn women's basketball, USA Basketball Date:

Geno Auriemma coaches his 1,000th game at UConn on Feb. 22 at Houston. To commemorate the milestone, the Hartford Courant will occasionally publish a memory or remembrance of the Hall of Fame coach from someone who helped play a role in his journey.

No one has seen more of the world than Carol Callan, the manager of USA Basketball’s various women’s basketball programs. Callan and Auriemma will share their second World Championship and Olympiad together later this year and in 2016..

“At the 1993 Olympic Festival in San Antonio,  I was involved with USA Basketball as a volunteer committee member representing the NFHS (National High School Federation),” Callan said. “Geno was the head coach of the West team and we began a conversation in the arena away from the court. It was the most amazing thing; he acted as if we had been friends for a long time and he was dialed in to the conversation regardless of the hectic environment going on around us.

“It didn’t matter if his game was up next, he genuinely was curious about everything, never gave the impression of being rushed for time, never looked around for more important people to see and spent a long time talking about more than basketball.

“Even today, over-scheduled and a celebrity, I have seen him stop on the street to talk to a stranger who happens to recognize him.  He treats everyone the same from the lowly staffer to the corporate executive.  He has a genuine interest and curiosity in everyone he meets.  Some things never change.”

Auriemma’s Return Is Opportunity Lost For Others

by Categorized: Anne Donovan, Carol Callan, Geno Auriemma, UConn women's basketball, USA Basketball Date:

  The selection of Geno Auriemma to a second term as coach of USA Basketball’s women’s national team is the latest historic item on the Hall of Famer’s resume.

   The coach of eight national champions at UConn is the first in the sport’s history to be invited to return to its most pressure-filled job.

  “It’s nice that he would sacrifice his golf game for the good of the country,” Diana Taurasi joked.

   While Auriemma’s return has been generally hailed, it represents somewhat of a surprise to some and a disappointment to others who aspired to replace him.

  “I don’t know what he may have been thinking, but I imagine it’s a lot like what they say about childbirth,” said Connecticut Sun coach Anne Donovan, whom Auriemma replaced in 2009 after the USA won gold in Beijing. “As you are delivering the child, some women say they are never going to have another one.

  “For me, I was really happy to just have had the experience. You have the gold medal and then you move on.”

  Still, the job and all of its inherent pressures, was something many women’s basketball coaches covet. And college coaches such Baylor’s Kim Mulkey and South Carolina’s Dawn Staley and WNBA coaches Mike Thibault, Brian Agler, Cheryl Reeve, Dan Hughes and Lin Dunn, among others, all possessed the credentials to assume they would be candidates.

   The problem was, Jerry Colangelo, chairman of USA Basketball, and Carol Callan, the manager of the women’s program, had decided from the start they wanted to replicate a environment of continuity similar to what exists on the men’s side. Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski is serving his third straight term.

 “We find success when we have our players repeat, and as our committee started to talk about this choice of a coach moving forward, we felt continuity was important, and when we asked Geno to do this again and he agreed, we were thrilled,” Callan said.

  “The men obviously have found great success with Coach K, so I think when you’re looking at what’s best for USA Basketball and what you need to do to continue to win gold medals, we felt this was what we needed to do, to have Geno do this again, represent us again as the coach, and work with our players.”

   Thibault, coach and GM of the Washington Mystics, was Donovan’s assistant for the 2006 World Championship and 2008 Olympic team. He considers Auriemma a friend and is happy for him. During his 10 years as Connecticut Sun coach, Thibault often talked to Auriemma about the game and its players.

  But while Thibault understands Auriemma’s appointment, and the philosophy that laid the ground work, he says he is somewhat disappointed that another coach wasn’t given the chance to lead the national team.

  Thibault pointed out that Auriemma was the fifth different coach to lead the United States to gold in 2012, joining Anne Donovan (2008), Van Chancellor (2004), Nell Fortner (2000) and VanDerveer (1996). And he felt a sixth would have been able to do the same thing.

 “It doesn’t appear that other people are going to get opportunities on a regular basis,” Thibault said. “I understand why we got to this point, because the men were struggling and keeping Coach K for a number of Olympics brought consistency to the program. I get that. It’s just hard for me to think other people lilely aren’t going to get the chance to do something like that.”

  Colangelo, the former general manager and owner of the NBA’s Phoenix Suns, whose son Bryan is the former president of the Toronto Raptors, is one of basketball’s most respected administrators. He said his major goal after coming to USA Basketball in 2005 was to build programs that would be able to build upon themselves.

  “We have a structure now, we have a program,” Colangelo said. “Coach K has done a tremendous job [with the men]. And I feel the same way about Geno. … The dominance of the women in the world of basketball has been incredible, so there is a little bit of pressure to maintain it. You need the personality who is ready for that kind of fight. He represents that.”

  And USA Basketball was intent to get Auriemma to change his mind about returning, a fact the other candidates began to realize as the summer passed with news of a replacement.

 “If it [the first term] would have been a really bad experience, I wouldn’t want to do it again. But I really had a great time,” Auriemma said. “I really enjoyed the whole four-year experience. And in the end, when it was presented to me the way it was presented, I thought to myself, ‘Yeah, you know, it is something that I really want to do.’

  “I could tell myself all along, ‘no, no, no,’ but when I did really sit down and think about it and was forced to make a decision, it’s something I wanted to do and something that I just felt like I want to do it. That’s the best answer I can give you.”

Sun’s Sienko Ready To Serve Term With USA Basketball

by Categorized: Carol Callan, Chris Sienko, Connecticut Sun, Tan White, USA Basketball, WNBA Date:

Chris Sienko has been as much a part of professional women’s basketball in Connecticut as the multi-colored ball since his days as a founding executive of ABL’s New England Blizzard two decades ago.

    But is experience, most recently over the last decade as general manager of the WNBA’s Connecticut Sun, had not afforded him any global opportunities.

    That changed when USA Basketball invited Sienko, a UConn graduate, to serve on its national team player selection committee for the next World Championship and Olympic quadrennial.

   “It was a shock, but very exciting and it came out of the blue,” Sienko said. “When I was asked, I didn’t say no. I am more than excited. I am thrilled and honored to have the opportunity.”

   Sienko will serve with Dan Hughes, the coach and GM of the San Antonio Silver Stars, three-time Olympic gold medalist Katie Smith, Renee Brown, the WNBA’s chief of basketball operations and Carol Callan, the national team’s director.

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Chris Sienko Named To USA National Team Selection Committee

by Categorized: Carol Callan, Chris Sienko, Connecticut Sun, USA Basketball, WNBA Date:

USA Basketball has given Connecticut Sun GM Chris Sienko a tremendous honor. He has been chosen to serve on the 2013-16 National Team Player Selection Committee.

That means Sienko will help pick the 2014 USA World Championship and 2016 U.S. Olympic teams during this four-year commitment. Other members of the committee include Women’s National Team Director Carol Callan, San Antonio Silver Stars General Manager and Head Coach Dan Hughes, WNBA star and three-time Olympic gold medalist Katie Smith and Renee Brown, who is the WNBA Chief of Basketball Operations and Player Relations.

“It is an amazing and unexpected honor to participate on this committee with individuals I respect personally and professionally,” Sienko said. “There is a sense of awe that comes from an opportunity such as this, and I will do my best to contribute to the continued success of USA Basketball on an international level.”

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Geno To Get His Olympic Ring; That’s All He Wants (Seriously)

by Categorized: 2012 Summer Olympics, Big East women's basketball, Breanna Stewart, Bria Hartley, Carol Callan, Geno Auriemma, Kelly Faris, UConn women's basketball, USA Basketball Date:

Geno Auriemma, assistant coaches Shea Ralph, Chris Dailey Marissa Moseley and team video coordinator Keith Anderson will receive rings in pregame ceremonies tonight commemorating the Olympic gold medal won by USA Basketball in London last summer.

“I didn’t even know this was a part of the deal until very recently,” Auriemma said. “It will be nice for everyone, especially Chris, Shea, Marisa and Keith. It’s a great moment for them because no one knows about the contributions they made in the background. Everything USA Basketball does is first class.”

Carol Callan of USA Basketball will preside over the ceremony that also will include recognition of Breanna Stewart, Moriah Jefferson and Morgan Tuck for the championship they helped win last summer for the U-18 team and Bria Hartley, for playing on the world championship 3 x 3 team.

“But I don’t think I’ll wear the ring,” Auriemma said. “When we won the World Championship in 2012, I thought it would be cool to wear it to some functions so people could see it. It’s a great ring, the prettiest one I’ve ever received, very impressive.

“But [wearing it] lasted about two weeks. As soon as someone shakes your hand, your finger starts to bleed from the ring digging into it because its so big and so clunky. You can get scars from [the experience].”

Every so often, I check in with Geno to see if he’s changed his mind about serving another term as national coach. USA Basketball will soon need to begin preparing for the 2014 World Championship and there is no coach yet.

Geno has steadfastly said he’s not interested, even though he’s aware USA Basketball still may be in him.

“Why would I not be done [with USA Basketball]” Auriemma reiterated. “It’s not what they want, it’s what I want. I don’t anticipate Carol will come here and ask me [if he wants to coach]. Nope, she’s not going to do that. I don’t have to worry about it. That’s it.”

UConn also plans to honor Kelly Faris and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis before the game for scoring their 1,000th career points Saturday against Seton Hall.



USA Basketball’s Carol Callan Says Experimentation On Lowered Rims Delayed By Financial Concern For Communities

by Categorized: Carol Callan, Geno Auriemma, UConn women's basketball, USA Basketball Date:

Experimentation designed to discover if a lowered rim would improve women’s basketball may have already taken place if not for the fear of what kind of economic impact it might cause in local communities around the world.

Carol Callan, director of women’s basketball for USA Basketball, told me Thursday the idea of making fiscally-strapped communities invest in new equipment has given the game’s international decision-makers pause.

“The reason we haven’t gone further by now is the natural reconfiguration of baskets in gymnasiums and auditoriums all over the world [that would have to take place],” Callan said. “That’s so difficult.

“Remember, FIBA never really wanted the three-point lines [for men and women] to be different because of the mess it makes on the floor.

“Logistically, there would need to be a way to figure out how to handle it. It would require a huge amount to money spent at the local level which would cause communities to balk at the idea. But if it’s tried and a ground swell of support develops, like anything else, the industry will make a basket that lowers and rises, like they do at the college and pro levels. I am sure something can be invented that can make it work.”

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