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Basketball - 15. February 2013.

AUS - Big changes Down Under

SYDNEY (FIBA World Championship for Women/FIBA Basketball World Cup) - Australia have announced that Carrie Graf is not seeking to continue as coach of the women's national team.

The Opals, who captured bronze at the London Games and hold the number two spot in the FIBA Ranking Women, have launched a search for Graf’s replacement, someone who will serve in a full-time capacity.

Graf held the position of Opals head coach for four years while at the same time coaching the Canberra Capitals in the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL).

She has accepted a role as the first coach in residence at the University of Canberra and will also continue as coach of the Capitals.

Australia have also begun the recruitment for a new head coach of the men's team.

Brett Brown, an assistant coach with the San Antonio Spurs, guided the Boomers the previous four summers but decided not to continue in the role.

Basketball Australia Chief Executive Officer Kristina Keneally paid tribute to both Graf and Brown.

"Carrie Graf and Brett Brown have made a profound contribution to the strong culture and discipline ingrained into both of Australia’s national teams," she said.

"The success of the Opals and the Boomers at an Olympic level - as well as the respect both teams have garnered globally - is in no small part due to the leadership Carrie and Brett brought to the table."

Graf did not enjoy the success that her predecessor, Jan Stirling, had as Australia coach.

Stirling guided the national team to a gold medal at the 2006 FIBA World Championship for Women in Brazil and a silver at the Beijing Games.

Under Graf, Australia reached the Quarter-Finals of the 2010 World Championship before falling to the Czech Republic, who were hosting the event.

The Opals' bid for a first Olympic gold medal took a major hit when Penny Taylor suffered a serious knee injury in a game at the EuroLeague Women Final Eight less than four months before the London Games.

Taylor was the MVP of the 2006 World Championship.

Australia are confident of remaining a leading nation in the women’s game.

"The Opals are a medal-winning program, and Basketball Australia will look to support the team by appointing a full-time Opals head coach, who will also serve as head coach of the women’s program at a new Basketball Australia National Centre of Excellence in Canberra," Keneally said.

The men's and women's high performance programs currently run by the Australian Institute of Sport are to be moved to the new Basketball Australia National Centre of Excellence over the next 12 months.

The senior national team coaches are to drive the four-year programs, during which time the Opals and Boomers will go after world titles and attempt to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics.

“This is a ground-breaking, innovative move - it’s the first time in over a decade that Basketball Australia has dedicated a full-time Olympic head coach to one of our national teams,” Keneally said.

“The Opals are ranked second in the world by FIBA.

"They’re Australia’s most consistent medaling women’s team across all sports - having medaled at the last five Olympic Games.

"This is about giving them the resources they need to aim for their first gold medal."

According to Basketball Australia, the Boomers head coach will be offered as a part-time position, with potential for the right candidate to serve in a full-time role which incorporates the role head coach of the men’s program at the centre of excellence.

"We also expect that the Boomers will go into the 2016 Rio Olympics with the strongest squad to date and their strongest chances yet of winning a medal," Keneally said.


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photos Janos Schmidt 

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