Elon’s Smith Returning to USA Basketball With Women’s U19 Coaching Staff

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – After serving as an assistant coach for the gold-medal winning 2016 USA Basketball Women’s U18 National Team that qualified the United States for the 2017 FIBA U19 Women’s Basketball World Cup, Elon University head coach Charlotte Smith has again been named an assistant coach for the USA U19 World Cup Team this summer at the July event in Cividale del Friuli and Udine, Italy.

Smith will join head coach Suzie McConnell-Serio, the head coach at the University of Pittsburgh, and fellow assistant coach Kamie Ethridge, head coach at the University of Northern Colorado. The trio coached the 2016 U18 team last summer, where they directed the team to a perfect 5-0 mark at the FIBA Americas U18 Championship in Valdivia, Chile. The coaching staff was selected by the USA Basketball Women’s Junior National Team Committee.

“(I’m) just excited about another opportunity,” Smith said. “I learned so much. I feel like I’m a much better coach for my team because of what I learned this past summer. (I learned) that you can’t take the opportunity for granted, because each year is a new season and there will be more people and more coaches that will be vying for those positions. You have to be on your A game and come prepared each year to compete and not get comfortable or complacent knowing the world championship is on another level.”

No stranger to USA Basketball, Smith as a player won a gold medal at the 1996 R. William Jones Cup and silver medals at the 1995 World University Games and 1992 FIBA Americas U18 Championship (then knows as the Junior World Championship Qualifying Tournament). She also played for the 1997 USA Basketball Women’s International Invitational Team, the 1994 USA Select Team and at the 1993 U.S. Olympic Festival.

“It was a great opportunity to work together with Suzie and Kamie,” Smith said. “They both are good, humble people and very knowledgeable so I was able to not only contribute with things I know but learned a lot as well. It’s a great opportunity to learn from systems all over the country. I was fortunate enough to do a lot of scouting and learned a lot about the game just from scouting our opponents. I’m a sponge – I love to soak it up and learn more about the game, so that’s what I’m most looking forward to is the relationships and becoming a better coach.”

“I’m excited to work with Kamie Ethridge and Charlotte Smith again,” McConnell-Serio said. “They’re great coaches and they’re great teachers of the game. We had great chemistry among our staff. They’re very knowledgeable of the game and I’m thrilled to be on the sideline with them once again. I think having Charlotte working with the post players and Kamie with the guards has been outstanding. I think our players are learning from two of the best in the game, and I’m excited that I have the opportunity to work with these coaches and with this team.”

Six-time defending U19 gold medalists, the United States will look to make it seven gold medals in a row at the July 22-30 event. Trials to select the 12-member team will be held May 18-21 at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., and athletes eligible for this team must be 19 years old or younger (born on or after Jan. 1, 1998) and U.S. citizens.

Originally known as the FIBA Junior World Championship, FIBA changed the names of its age-based world championships in 2005 to reflect the age of eligibility, and recently updated the names of all of its world championships to world cups. The tournament was held every four years starting in 1985. FIBA in 2005 modified its calendar and now conducts the U19 World Cup every other year. USA women’s teams are 73-12 in U19/Junior World Cups, capturing a sixth-consecutive gold in 2015 with a 7-0 record.

The draw to determine the preliminary round was held Feb. 1. The USA was placed in Group A and will open against Mali on July 22, face China on July 23 and cap the preliminary round against host Italy on July 25.

Drawn into Group B were Egypt, Puerto Rico, Russia and Spain; Group C includes Canada, France, Latvia and South Korea; while Group D features Australia, Hungary, Japan and a nation from the Americas to be determined by FIBA at a later date. Brazil claimed bronze at the 2016 FIBA Americas U18 Championship to qualify for this summer’s U19 tournament. However, the Brazil Basketball Federation has since been suspended by FIBA.

Following the preliminary round, teams will be seeded according to group play, and all participating teams will advance to the July 26 round of 16. Winners will advance to the July 28 medal quarterfinals, while the remaining teams will continue playing out for classification. The medal semifinals will be held July 29, and the gold and bronze medal games are slated for July 30.

“While the team will not be the same, there will be additions as well as some holdovers,” said University of Tennessee at Chattanooga head coach Jim Foster, chair of the selection committee. “The experience gained by this staff working with this young group gives us the best opportunity of winning a world championship. This is a staff with excellent teachers and a lot of experience with USA Basketball.”

Before Smith heads overseas, she and the Phoenix will continue Elon’s best start in its Division I history Friday night, Feb. 3, inside Alumni Gym against Towson. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. as Elon looks for its 13th win in its last 14 games dating back to Dec. 17.