Suzy Merchant Selected to USA Basketball's Women's World University Games Team Staff
Merchant joins Pepperdine's Julie Rousseau as assistants under Arizona State's Charli Turner Thorne.
April 30, 2009
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - After assisting the USA women to a gold medal at the 2007 FIBA U21 World Championship, Charli Turner Thorne of Arizona State University returns to the USA sideline as head coach of the 2009 USA Basketball Women's World University Games Team, with Suzy Merchant of Michigan State University and Julie Rousseau of Pepperdine University serving as assistant coaches, USA Basketball today announced. The coaching selections were made by the USA Basketball Women's Junior National Team Committee and approved by the USA Basketball Board of Directors.
"The coaching staff for the World University Games Team is an outstanding group of coaches, who have been highly successful and will bring a wealth of experience to the players on the team," said Sue Donohoe, chair of the Women's Junior National Team Committee. "These young women will have a remarkable experience and will learn a great deal, both on and off the court, from Charli Turner Thorne, Suzy Merchant and Julie Rousseau."
"I'm very honored and excited to have been selected to coach such a prestigious team," Turner Thorne said. "Two years ago I had my first coaching opportunity with USA Basketball and had a tremendous experience working with the players and staff. I am looking forward to representing my country and Arizona State University. I feel very fortunate that I'll get to work with an outstanding coaching staff. As I have learned at ASU, it is great when you can have head coaches working with you and I know I will learn a lot from both Suzy and Julie."
The World University Games is a multi-sport competition organized by the International University Sports Federation and held every other year. The 2009 women's basketball competition will take place
July 1-11 in Belgrade, Serbia. Eligible athletes for the USA team must be currently enrolled in a college or university and have remaining NCAA athletic eligibility.
Trials to select finalists for the 2009 USA Basketball Women's World University Games Team will be held May 14-17 at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. The finalists will return to Colorado Springs on June 18 for training camp and train in Colorado until the team departs for Belgrade on June 25. The 12-member team will be named prior to the team's departure for Serbia.
In addition to Donohoe (NCAA Vice President for Division I Women's Basketball), the 2009-2012 Women's Junior National Team Committee, formerly known as the Women's Collegiate Committee, includes NCAA appointees Joanne Boyle (head coach, University of California), Coquese Washington (head coach, Penn State University) and Connie Yori (head coach, University of Nebraska); and athlete representative Beth Cunningham (head coach, Virginia Commonwealth University), a member of the 1999 USA Pan American Games Team.
Charli Turner Thorne
The winningest coach in Arizona State University history and No. 4 in the Pacific-10 Conference in career wins, Turner Thorne returns to USA Basketball in her first head coach position. In 2007 she traveled to Moscow, Russia, as an assistant coach with the 2007 USA Women's U21 National Team and helped the USA to an 8-0 record and gold medal. The U.S. also posted a 3-0 exhibition slate versus France's U21 national team prior to the competition.
"I'm looking forward to getting to know Suzy (Merchant) even better this summer," Turner Thorne said. "I have the utmost respect for her and what she has already accomplished at Michigan State. It will be a huge benefit for the team having a coach on the bench with her energy, enthusiasm and knowledge.
"I am also excited to be reunited with my Southern California friend Julie. We had some good battles on the basketball court growing up in high school in OGDL (AAU) and Far West Summer League. We have become good friends and professional peers. I am looking forward to her bringing all of the elements to our team that have made her such a successful coach throughout her career."
At the helm of the Sun Devils since 1996-97, Turner Thorne has posted a 251-154 slate (.612 winning percentage) in her 13 seasons in Tempe, Ariz. She has led Arizona State to the NCAA Tournament seven times in the past nine years, including the past five seasons. Overall, in 16 seasons as a head coach, Turner Thorne owns a 291-194 record (.600 winning percentage).
Most recently, Turner Thorne's 2008-09 squad compiled a 26-9 record, reached the Elite Eight for the second time in the past three seasons and earned a No. 12 rank in the final USA Today/ESPN poll. With 26 wins, Turner Thorne joined former Washington head coach Chris Gobrecht and current Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer as the only coaches in Pac-10 history (since 1986-87) to have led their respective schools to at least five consecutive 20-win seasons.
Turner Thorne has achieved several milestones with ASU. In 2006-07, she not only piloted her squad to a 31-5 mark, but the team's 16-2 tally in the Pacific-10 Conference set an ASU record for conference victories and its No. 8 rank in the final USA Today/ESPN coaches poll and No. 10 rank in the final Associated Press poll was the highest final ranking in both polls in school history.
In 2005-06, Turner Thorne finished the season with a 25-7 record and posted a school-record 10-game winning streak. That team, which advanced to the NCAA Tournament second round, also broke into the top 10 in the national polls for the first time in 22 years, tying the school's best ranking at No. 9 in early January. For her efforts, Turner Thorne was honored as the Russell Athletic/WBCA Region 8 Coach of the Year.
In 2004-05 her squad capped the season with a 24-10 record and advanced to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen for the first time since 1983. The 2001-02 version of the Sun Devils reached 25 wins (25-9), an effort previously accomplished only once (1981-82) in ASU history, and captured the inaugural Pac-10 Tournament title.
Additionally, in her first 20-win season, the 2000-01 Sun Devils finished at 20-11, and tied for first in the league standings with a 12-6 mark to take a share of the program's first Pac-10 championship.
Turner Thorne spent three seasons (1993-94 to 1995-96) as the head coach at Northern Arizona University. Compiling an even 40-40 record overall, in her final two years she became the first coach in school history to string together a pair of winning seasons.
She broke into the coaching ranks as a graduate assistant at the University of Washington. During her two seasons (1988-89 and 1989-90) at UW, the Huskies compiled a 51-13 record (.797 winning percentage), tied for a share of the 1989 Pac-10 title, competed in a pair of NCAA Tournaments and advanced to the 1989 NCAA Sweet Sixteen and the 1990 Elite Eight, posting a 28-3 record on the year.
Following her stint at Washington, Turner Thorne spent three years as an assistant coach at Santa Clara University, where she aided the program to a 68-22 slate (.756 winning percentage), the 1991 WNIT title, a share of three West Coast Conference titles, the 1992 WCC Tournament championship and the 1992 NCAA second round.
A four-year letterwinner (1985-88) at Stanford University, she aided the Cardinal in her final season to the 1988 NCAA Sweet Sixteen and a 27-5 record.
Named to her first USA Basketball staff as an assistant coach with the 2009 USA World University Games Team, Merchant joins the USA sideline having 14 seasons of head coaching experience and a 246-145 overall record (.629 winning percentage).
"It is truly an honor to be part of USA Basketball," Merchant said. "I am thrilled to have the opportunity to coach talented young women at the World University Games this summer. There is nothing more exciting than representing your country."
Merchant has spent two seasons (2007-08 to present) as the head coach at Michigan State, collecting a 45-25 record (.643 winning percentage). Nine Spartans have earned conference postseason honors in her first two seasons.
Her 2008-09 squad tallied a 22-11 record, finished second in the Big Ten at 13-5 and reached the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16. The season was highlighted with an upset of No. 1-seeded Duke in the NCAA Tournament Second Round. In her first season at Michigan State, Merchant took the youngest team in the Big Ten to the championship game of the WNIT and tied for the most wins (23-14) by a first-year Spartan basketball coach in MSU history. The 23 wins tied for the fourth-winningest season in program history and also tied a career-high for Merchant.
Prior to MSU, Merchant spent nine seasons (1998-99 to 2006-07) as head coach at Eastern Michigan University, where she departed as the winningest coach in program history with a 147-91 record (.618 winning percentage).
During her tenure with the Eagles, Merchant guided Eastern Michigan three 20-win seasons, three postseason appearances and two Mid-American Conference (MAC) West Division titles.
Merchant's 2003-04 team claimed the MAC West Division and MAC Tournament championships for the first time in school history, earning the program's first-ever bid to the NCAA Tournament en route to a 22-8 record. Merchant became the first female coach at EMU to win a MAC title and was selected as Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan Coach of the Year. She followed that impressive season by winning 23 games in 2004-05, the most in school history, and sent EMU to the postseason for the second straight year with a WNIT appearance.
In 2005-06, the Eagles reached the 20-win plateau for the third consecutive season and won their second MAC West title with a 15-1 conference record, notching the most league wins in school history. Their 22-8 overall record put them into the postseason for the third-straight year as the Eagles earned a bid to the WNIT.
Although Merchant only coached four games in the 2006-07 season due to maternity leave, she passed two milestones, including her 200th career win with a victory over Morehead State on Nov. 18, and she became the winningest coach in Eastern Michigan history with a win over Detroit on Dec. 6.
EMU players received postseason MAC honors over 20 times during her nine seasons in Ypsilanti, including the only two All-Americans in program history (Stephanie Smiley, Ryan Coleman).
She assumed the interim role of Assistant Athletics Director/Senior Women's Administrator at Eastern Michigan from April 2005 through June 2006.
Before coaching at Eastern Michigan, Merchant spent three seasons at Saginaw Valley State (Mich.), posting a 54-29 (.651) record. After inheriting a team with a losing record, Merchant went 15-11 in her first season before going 19-11 in year two while earning a berth in the NCAA Division II Tournament for just the second time in school history. In her final season, Saginaw Valley State collected a 20-7 record and was ranked as high as 15th in the nation.
Merchant began her coaching career at Oakland University (Mich.), serving as the top assistant coach for three seasons (1992-93 to 1994-95)
A four-year starter and three-year captain at Central Michigan University, Merchant holds Chippewa records for assists with 463 and single-season assists with 156, and is tied for first in single-game assists with 11. She also finished her career third-best in made 3-point field goals with 75.
The Traverse City, Mich., native earned USA Today All-America honorable mention and was a two-time Class A all-state selection at Traverse City High School. She was also an all-state volleyball player.
Rousseau, who has spent five seasons (2004-05 to present) at the helm of the Pepperdine women's basketball program, will coach with her first USA Basketball team in the summer of 2009.
"I'm honored, thrilled and absolutely excited about the opportunity to be a part of a team that is playing for our country," Rousseau said. "I'm humble and grateful to have this opportunity to assist in bringing home the gold medal, and I'm prepared to support and help in any way to allow our team to be successful. Being able to coach some of the best players in our country and to represent our country is the epitome of my career and really a thrill."
Rousseau led Pepperdine to the NCAA Tournament faster than any women's basketball coach in school history, accomplishing the feat in just her second season at the helm in 2005-06. As the fourth seed in the West Coast Conference (WCC) Tournament, Rousseau's 2006 squad tied a WCC record as the lowest-seeded team to win the conference title and earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
During Rousseau's five seasons, the Waves have had seven All-WCC first team selections, four WCC All-Tournament honorees, five WCC All-Freshman Team members and three WCC All-Academic selections.
Rousseau holds the distinction of being the only Pepperdine coach to win his or her first conference game, as the Waves defeated San Diego on the road, 78-56, on Jan. 6, 2005.
Prior to Pepperdine, Rousseau spent four years (2000-01 to 2003-04) as an assistant coach on Tara VanDerveer's staff at Stanford University.
During Rousseau's four years at Stanford, the Cardinal compiled an overall record of 105-26 (.801), finished first in the Pacific-10 Conference each year, recording a 59-13 overall league mark (.819), and advanced to the NCAA Tournament all four years, including the Elite Eight in 2004.
Rousseau worked for the WNBA's Los Angeles Sparks from May 1997 to July 1998, serving as an assistant coach, interim head coach and head coach. She was promoted to head coach in December 1997 and held the position for one year.
Before making the leap to the professional ranks with the Sparks, Rousseau was the head coach at George Washington Preparatory High School in Los Angeles from 1992-97. She led the Lady Generals to postseason appearances in each of her five seasons, and came away with the L.A. City championship in 1996. She was awarded the 1997 Budget Coach of the Year Award, presented by The Women's Sports Foundation.
Rousseau was also an assistant and served as head coach of the boys' freshman and sophomore teams during her eight years working at George Washington. She has been involved in numerous summer leagues and camps, including Hoopin' with Jamila and the Michael Jordan Camp.
USA World University Games History
USA Basketball women's teams have participated in a total of 14 World University Games and collected a record six golds, six silvers and one bronze medal. Since 1973, the first year the USA women competed in the WUGs, the United States has compiled an 82-15 record. In 2005, the last year USA Basketball sent a team to the WUGs, the USA posted a 7-0 slate en route to the gold medal.
Most notable among the list of WUG alumni are Seimone Augustus, Carol Blazejowski, Ruthie Bolton, Anne Donovan, Sylvia Fowles, Pat Head (Summitt), Lisa Leslie, Katrina McClain, Suzie McConnell (Serio), Ann Meyers (Drysdale), DeLisha Milton-Jones, Cappie Pondexter, Ruth Riley, Katie Smith, Dawn Staley, Katy Steding, Tina Thompson, Kara Wolters and Lynette Woodward.