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Staley revels in new role as U.S. wins gold

BEIJING — The U.S. women’sbasketball team walked off themedal stand, celebrating a92-65 gold-medal drubbing ofAustralia. U.S. assistant coachDawn Staley said the worldmay have just seen the mosttalented women’s basketballteam ever assembled.

“The most talented team —with the least amount of preparation,”said Staley, the SouthCarolina women’s basketballcoach, after the United Stateswon gold for the fourthconsecutive Olympics.

“Other (U.S.) teams mayhave had more chemistry,more time to prepare, moretime to be with one another.But as far as putting together12 players, getting together fora week and preparing for theOlympics — I think it’s prettyspecial.”

Staley had been the pointguard for the previous three gold-winningU.S. teams, so her opinioncounts.

Lisa Leslie was the feel-goodheroine of this game, wearingthree gold medals around herneck right after the game, beforea fourth was draped around herneck. Leslie is the first player inan American team sport to winfour consecutive gold medals. Shejoins Theresa Edwards in winningfour overall gold medals.

“It would be shameful to takeall the credit for myself,” Lesliesaid, still misty-eyed after making7 of 9 shots for 14 points and leadingthe U.S. with seven rebounds.“I had so many great teammates.”

Staley said it was a differentfeeling to watch the medalceremony from the sidelines.

“It’s anticlimactic for me — youdon’t have to suit up, you don’thave to prepare,” Staley said. “Iwas out at the Silk Market three,four hours before the game.”

But the best women’s playerPhiladelphia ever produced couldend up with a bigger Olympic jobsometime down the line.

“Any coach should want tocoach an Olympic team — assistantor head coach,” Staley said.“I’d like to be at the top of myprofession.”

But Staley made it clear,Saturday was not about her. Shetalked about how players’ schedulesaffected this Olympics — orcould have.

“Two weeks ago, we were justgetting together,” Staley said. “Weprobably had three or four daysof practices with this particulargroup of women. ... I guess thatspeaks to maybe the best talentassembled.”