April 1, 2010 - by
Semrau To Coach U18s

April 1, 2010

University of Hartford head coach Jennifer Rizzotti has been selected by the USA Basketball Women’s Junior National Team Committee to lead the 2010 USA Women’s U18 National Team this summer at the FIBA Americas U18 Championship, which will be contested June 23-27 at the U.S. Olympic Training Center (USOTC) in Colorado Springs, Colo.

While Rizzotti returns to the USA sideline after serving as an assistant coach for the gold-medal winning USA U18 National Team in 2006, she will be assisted by first-time USA Basketball coaches Sue Semrau of Florida State University and Joi Williams of the University of Central Florida.

“The committee feels confident that this trio of coaches will bring out the best in our 2010 Women’s U18 National Team,” said Sue Donohoe, chair of the USA Basketball Women’s Junior National Team Committee. “Jen Rizzotti brings valuable international experience to her head coaching position after winning a gold medal in 2006, and she will certainly have two outstanding assistants in Sue Semrau and Joi Williams.”

Rizzotti, who just completed her 11th season as Hartford’s head coach, led her 2009-10 Hawks to a 27-4 record and the NCAA Tournament first round.

“I am honored to be chosen as the head coach for this year’s U18 National Team,” said Rizzotti. “I had a wonderful experience as an assistant coach under Doug Bruno and was able to grasp what it really meant to represent your country while coaching these outstanding student-athletes

“I am excited about the tremendous coaching staff USA Basketball has put together for this team,” Rizzotti continued. “I look forward to working with Joi and Sue as we prepare these young women to win gold and understand the responsibility they have as the future faces of our game.”

Semrau led her 2009-10 Seminoles to a 28-6 tally and an NCAA Elite Eight appearance before falling to the University of Connecticut on March 30.

“It’s a tremendous honor to work with USA Basketball,” Semrau said. “I’m looking forward to working with some outstanding student-athletes and coaches.”

Williams has 20 years experience as a college head coach. After capturing the Conference USA title last year, Williams and UCF ended their season with a 63-62 loss to top-seeded Tulane in the 2010 Conference USA Tournament to finish 11-16.

“Coaching with USA Basketball has been a long-time dream of mine,” Williams said. “I am extremely humbled and honored to have been given this opportunity. I will do my very best to represent USA Basketball and UCF in a first class manner.”

USA Basketball will conduct trials for the 2010 USA U18 Women’s National Team June 8-11 at the USOTC, with approximately 30 U.S. hopefuls participating. Only athletes 18-years-old or younger (born on or after Jan. 1, 1992) are eligible. Following selection of the 2010 USA U18 National Team, which is expected to be announced on June 11, the Americans will continue to train at the USOTC until the start of the tournament on June 23.

On March 12, FIBA Americas conducted the draw for the 2010 FIBA Americas U18 Championship for Women, and the defending champion and host nation United States was drawn into Group B with Argentina, Brazil and Puerto Rico; while Group A will consist of Canada, Chile, Costa Rica and Mexico.

The USA will open preliminary round play June 23 in a 5:45 p.m. game versus Argentina (all times listed are MDT time). The USA then meets Brazil at 5:45 p.m. the following day, and will close out preliminary play versus Puerto Rico on June 25 in a 5:45 p.m. game.

The top two finishing teams in each preliminary round group will advance to the June 26 medal round semifinals and play for 1st-4th places. Teams placing third and fourth in each preliminary round group will advance to the June 26 consolation semifinals and play for 5th-8th places. The FIBA Americas U18 Championship for Women finals will be held Sunday, June 27. The top four finishing squads will earn qualifying berths for the 2011 FIBA U19 World Championship for Women.

Selection of the USA U18 Team will be made by the USA Basketball Women’s Junior National Team Committee. In addition to Donohoe, the committee includes Joanne Boyle (University of California head coach), Coquese Washington (Penn State University head coach), Connie Yori (University of Nebraska head coach), and athlete representative Beth Cunningham (1999 USA Pan American Games Team member).

FIBA Americas U18 Championship for Women

Originally known as the FIBA Americas Junior World Championship Qualifier, the FIBA Americas U18 Championship was held every four years from 1988 through 2004, and is now contested every other year. USA women’s teams boast of a remarkable 33-2 overall record in the U18/junior qualifiers and have won gold in 1988, 2000, 2004, 2006 and 2008, while capturing silver medals in 1992 and 1996.

Some of the top players who have represented the United States in the past U18 tournaments include: Jayne Appel (2006); Alana Beard (2000); Tamika Catchings (1996); Tina Charles (2006); Marissa Coleman (2004); Skylar Diggins (2008); Stacey Ford (1998); Sonja Henning (1988); Niesa Johnson (1992); Rebecca Lobo (1992); Maya Moore (2006); Nneka Ogwumike (2008); Candace Parker (2004); Courtney Paris (2004); Cappie Pondexter (2000); Nicole Powell (2000); Lynn Pride (1996); Diana Taurasi (2000); Candice Wiggins (2004); and Tiffany Woosley (1992).

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