U.S. Olympic women's basketball coach Dawn Staley 'not nervous' over Diana Taurasi injury

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Diana Taurasi isn't playing right now, but Dawn Staley believes she will be by the Tokyo Olympics.

"I'm not nervous at all," said Staley, going into her first Olympics as head coach of the U.S women's basketball team. "If I thought she was in jeopardy of missing out on the Olympics, I would have some sleepless nights, but I don't."

Taurasi will miss her second Phoenix Mercury game Saturday with a sternum fracture that is expected to keep her out at least four weeks. That timetable would take her to late June before a possible return.

The 12-player U.S. Olympic team will be named in mid to late June. If chosen, Taurasi and Seattle's Sue Bird will become five-time Olympians, joining Teresa Edwards in that exclusive company.

Diana Taurasi won her fourth Olympic gold medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Diana Taurasi won her fourth Olympic gold medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

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Staley said Friday that she has yet to speak to Taurasi about the injury but was watching on TV when it occurred May 16. The 38-year-old Taurasi played for the rest of that game and in two subsequent games before a CT scan revealed the fracture, taking her out Wednesday against Las Vegas for the first time this season.

"Any time I watched Diana and Sue, I'm always on edge," Staley said. "I saw that her injury happened and I saw her kind of check her chest then she played a couple of (more) games. That's true Diana, she's going to continue to play until she can't play.

"But this injury isn't career ending. Do the Mercury need her? Absolutely. But does she want to be a five-time Olympian? Absolutely. So your body is amazing, and sometimes it does things to protect you from yourself really."

Dawn Staley and Diana Taurasi were teammates at the 2004 Athens Olympics. Now Staley is U.S. Olympic coach and Taurasi hoping to play in a fifth Olympics in Tokyo.
Dawn Staley and Diana Taurasi were teammates at the 2004 Athens Olympics. Now Staley is U.S. Olympic coach and Taurasi hoping to play in a fifth Olympics in Tokyo.

The U.S. Olympic women's basketball team will be favored to win a seventh consecutive gold medal in Tokyo, July 23-Aug. 8. The Americans have won 49 consecutive Olympic games (their last loss was in 1992) with Taurasi on the roster for 32.

Staley played on three Olympic teams including 2004 with Taurasi and was a U.S. Olympic assistant coach in 2008 and 2016.

"This doesn't affect anything," Staley said. "She'll heal up and tell her body what to do, and it will obey. She'll be ready to rock and roll when we get to training camp in two months."

Reach the reporter at jeff.metcalfe@arizonarepublic.com. Follow him on Twitter @jeffmetcalfe.

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Diana Taurasi injury: Olympic basketball coach Dawn Staley not nervous