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‘It’s a great honor’: Lynx coach, GM Cheryl Reeve tabbed as head coach for USA Basketball’s women’s national team

Team USA has won seven straight women’s basketball gold medals. Reeve’s job is simple: Win No. 8.

Minnesota Lynx coach and general manager Cheryl Reeve had one thought when USA Basketball women’s national team director Briana Weiss called to offer the opportunity of a lifetime — to coach the national team through the 2024 Paris Olympics.

“I thought, ‘Boy, they let anybody do these things,’ ” Reeve quipped.

Hardly.

It’s an honor reserved for the best the game has to offer. The post previously held by the two best current women’s college basketball coaches — Dawn Staley and Geno Auriemma — now belongs to a titan of the WNBA.

“It was very surreal. It was the initial ‘This really happened,’ ” Reeve said of the moment she accepted the job. “Things start to settle in, and you have certain feelings. You feel honored, you feel grateful, you feel humbled and you feel excited. There is just so many things that you go through. Honored to be able to be a part of one of the greatest sports dynasties ever.”

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Team USA has won seven straight women’s basketball gold medals. Reeve’s job is simple: Win No. 8.

“We’re very excited about that,” USA Basketball CEO Jim Tooley said. “No pressure, by the way.”

Reeve knows that pressure, having served as an assistant coach for Team USA at the past two Olympics. Prior to Wednesday’s press conference, Reeve pulled out a USA Basketball facemask — it was soaked in champagne, the product of Team USA’s celebration in Tokyo.

The plane ride to the Games, she noted, is always a quiet one.

“Making sure that when you come back, it’s a joyous ride, a celebratory ride,” Reeve said. “I think pressure is what you make of it. And I know that I’ve had that situation here with the Lynx, that’s why I’m highly confident.”

She’s been in the pressure cooker of the Lynx dynasty for a decade. Minnesota’s expectations each season are to contend for a title; the Lynx have won titles in four of Reeve’s 12 seasons leading the team.

Reeve will be the first to tell you that’s largely been a product of great players, from Seimone Augustus to Maya Moore to Sylvia Fowles to Lindsay Whalen — the latter two were in attendance at Wednesday’s news conference announcing Reeve as Team USA’s coach.

Team USA, of course, is also made up of star players. If you aren’t one of the world’s best, you won’t make the squad. It can be a challenge to manage that much star power, but Reeve has mastered it through the years.

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She also knows the WNBA’s top talent as well as anyone else, which should allow for a seamless transition between league and international play. It’s one of the reasons USA Basketball felt the next coach to occupy this position should be a WNBA coach.

Tooley said going with Reeve was a “no-brainer.”

“What I’ve learned with working with Cheryl and getting to know her over several years is that when you get Cheryl involved, you get all of her. She’s engaged, she’s committed, and her passion and enthusiasm is contagious,” he said. “Cheryl has been with us since 2014, and she’s gotten to experience the culture, she’s had success at other levels of the sport, as well. … As we take this on, you have to have that hunger to keep going. It just doesn’t happen.”

Reeve makes things happen. By the end of Wednesday’s news conference, she was well past the celebration of the moment. She describes herself as “task-oriented” and admitted she was already thinking about what’s to come.

“The sacrifices that everyone makes for the common good, to bring home a gold medal for our country, there’s nothing greater than that,” Reeve said. “To be selected as someone to lead that, it’s a great honor.”

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