‘I’m ready for it’: Cheryl Reeve takes over as USA Basketball coach

(Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)

Cheryl Reeve was announced as the next head coach of the United States women’s national basketball team on Wednesday. The longtime Minnesota Lynx head coach and general manager called her appointment an “honor” during the introductory press conference.

Reeve said she was humbled to be considered among greats (and former U.S. coaches) like Van Chancellor, Geno Auriemma and Dawn Staley, calling Team USA “one of the greatest sports dynasties ever.”

“It’s the penultimate in coaching — ask any coach. Only a few people get the opportunity,” Reeve said Wednesday.

Reeve has been a part of the USA Basketball system since 2014. As an assistant coach, she’s helped the team win two Olympic gold medals in 2016 and 2020, two FIBA World Cup titles in 2014 and 2018 and the FIBA AmeriCup crown in 2019. With Reeve on the coaching staff, Team USA has amassed a 57-4 record and gone a perfect 38-0 in official FIBA competitions.

“Cheryl Reeve is a coach who has been successful on multiple levels of the game,” retired Gen. Martin Dempsey, USA Basketball chairperson, said in a release. “With five international gold medals as an assistant on the coaching staff of our USA National Teams and a combined six WNBA championships as a head coach and an assistant, USA Basketball believes there is no one more qualified than Cheryl to follow Dawn Staley and continue the legacy of success that defines this program.”

The first acting WNBA coach to lead Team USA since Chancellor, Reeve has won four WNBA titles and made two other WNBA Finals appearances in her 11-year career with the Lynx. She’s also been named WNBA Coach of the Year three times, most recently in 2020. Under Reeve, the Lynx own the longest active playoff streak in the league.

After the Tokyo Olympics, when Staley said she would be stepping down as head coach, she recommended Reeve as her successor. At the time, Reeve said she thought Staley should stick around, but if she were to leave, whoever replaced Staley should be a WNBA coach. When asked about those statements on Wednesday, Reeve was quick to joke that her dad “didn’t raise a dummy.”

“If Dawn didn’t want to do it anymore, I wanted to make sure I had a shot at it,” Reeve said. “I just thought that it would be a case with professional players mostly that we have some good pro coaches and I wanted to make sure that we were front and center for these opportunities.”

Reeve understands the expectations that come with being head coach of the U.S. national team. She’ll lean on her experience as she looks to lead Team USA to an eighth straight Olympic gold medal in Paris in 2024.

“I’m ready for it,” she said. “We’ve had expectations here in Minnesota for a long time. We meet those expectations with the way that we conduct our business, and I plan to do the same thing for USA Basketball.

“The culture matches what we preach here in Minnesota, so it was an easy thing to be a part of. The sacrifice that everyone makes for the common good, to bring home a gold medal for our country, there’s nothing greater than that. To be selected as someone to lead that, it’s a great honor.”

The roster selection process will be challenging, with so much talent in the WNBA and coming through the pipeline. Past choices have led to controversy, such as the decision to leave Nneka Ogwumike off of the 2020 Olympic team, which is still receiving criticism.

Reeve, 55, said Wednesday that she’s ready to face the storm head on.

“I just feel so excited to get started. I can’t wait,” she said. “We have a tremendous amount of talent in the WNBA and the college ranks, if you’re watching. There’s a lot of talent. I know there’ll be some new faces.”

“I’m still working on Sue,” she joked. “See if maybe she can still be one of our old faces. Not much luck so far, but we’ve still got time.”