PANEVEZYS, Lithuania – LSU women’s basketball head coach Nikki Caldwell begins her quest for a second international gold medal in as many years with USA Basketball as she helps lead the Americans into the FIBA U19 World Championships, July 18-28, in Lithuania.
Caldwell is serving as an assistant coach on the staff with Gonzaga’s Kelly Graves. Miami head coach Katie Meier is the head coach of the USA Basketball U19 squad. The trio was together last summer when the Americans celebrated a gold medal at the FIBA U18 Americas Championship in Puerto Rico after compiling a 5-0 record in competition. Much of that same team comprises the U19 squad.
“When the committee invited me back, I was just extremely honored,” said Caldwell. “Being able to work with these great athletes and coaches is exciting. We have progressed as a team since training camp and the chemistry has been outstanding. Our ultimate goal is the gold medal and we will face excellent competition during the next week. This is a great learning experience for everyone.”
The USA opens preliminary round pool play against host Lithuania at 10 a.m. CT Thursday followed by China at 12:15 p.m. CT Sunday and Mali at 12:15 p.m. CT Saturday. Second round play gets underway on Monday. The finals will be played on Sunday, July 28.
The Americans arrived in Lithuania on Tuesday and went through a friendly scrimmage against France. The team also spent last weekend in the Canary Islands, going 3-0 in exhibition play with victories against Australia, Spain and Canada.
USA women’s teams are 57-12 in the U19/Junior World Championships, capturing a fourth-consecutive gold with an 8-1 record most recently in 2011. Caldwell is the first LSU coach to serve on a USA U19 staff since the group began play in 1985. She is also the only coach in LSU history to serve on multiple USA team staffs while during her acting tenure with the Lady Tigers.
In two seasons at LSU, Caldwell has re-invigorated the program, spearheading the Lady Tigers to two NCAA Tournaments, a 2013 NCAA Sweet 16, a 2012 Southeastern Conference Tournament championship game appearance and a 45-23 overall record.
Her emergence with USA Basketball comes on the heels of a gold medal for LSU senior forward Theresa Plaisance at the World University Games. Plaisance, a 2014 National Player of the Year candidate and the reigning SEC scoring champion, just returned to the United States after averaging 7.0 points and 5.3 rebounds in Russia the past two weeks.
New season ticket deposits for the 2013-14 LSU women’s basketball season are available now at www.LSUtix.net for a special price of $16. The entire 2013-14 schedule will be announced in mid-August.