BEIJING — The U.S. women’s basketball team walked off the medal stand, celebrating a 92-65 gold-medal drubbing of Australia. U.S. assistant coach Dawn Staley said the world may have just seen the most talented women’s basketball team ever assembled.
“The most talented team — with the least amount of preparation,” said Staley, the South Carolina women’s basketball coach, after the United States won gold for the fourth consecutive Olympics.
“Other (U.S.) teams may have had more chemistry, more time to prepare, more time to be with one another. But as far as putting together 12 players, getting together for a week and preparing for the Olympics — I think it’s pretty special.”
Staley had been the point guard for the previous three gold-winning U.S. teams, so her opinion counts.
Lisa Leslie was the feel-good heroine of this game, wearing three gold medals around her neck right after the game, before a fourth was draped around her neck. Leslie is the first player in an American team sport to win four consecutive gold medals. She joins Theresa Edwards in winning four overall gold medals.
“It would be shameful to take all the credit for myself,” Leslie said, still misty-eyed after making 7 of 9 shots for 14 points and leading the U.S. with seven rebounds. “I had so many great teammates.”
Staley said it was a different feeling to watch the medal ceremony from the sidelines.
“It’s anticlimactic for me — you don’t have to suit up, you don’t have to prepare,” Staley said. “I was out at the Silk Market three, four hours before the game.”
But the best women’s player Philadelphia ever produced could end up with a bigger Olympic job sometime down the line.
“Any coach should want to coach an Olympic team — assistant or head coach,” Staley said. “I’d like to be at the top of my profession.”
But Staley made it clear, Saturday was not about her. She talked about how players’ schedules affected this Olympics — or could have.
“Two weeks ago, we were just getting together,” Staley said. “We probably had three or four days of practices with this particular group of women. ... I guess that speaks to maybe the best talent assembled.”