US women’s 3-on-3 basketball team leans on Duke women’s coach in quest for Tokyo Olympics gold.

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U.S. players Stefanie Dolson, Jacquelyn Young, Kelsey Plum and Allisha Gray celebrate after defeating the team from Russia in the women’s 3-on-3 gold medal basketball game at the Summer Olympics on Wednesday.

The U.S. women’s 3-on-3 team beat out the team from Russia to win the first-ever gold medal in the dizzyingly fast sport at the Olympics.

They took an early lead against the Russians and maintained it the entire game, with a final score of 18-15.

Stefanie Dolson, who is 6’5 and plays for the Chicago Sky, led the team in scoring with seven points.

“It is incredible,” Dolson said after the game. “Basketball runs deep in the USA and to pull this off and win gold is incredible.”

The action in this sport unfolds over just 10 minutes — or the first to 21 points if that happens more quickly — and play stops much less frequently than traditional basketball. It’s also a lot rougher.

“The hardest part is playing with the pace and playing so physical,” Kelsey Plum of the Las Vegas Aces said ahead of Wednesday’s games. “You are getting held and grabbed and pushed every single play and so the freedom of movement is not the same.”

Both teams go for the same basket on a small court. There are four players on each side, and teams shuffle the three actively playing every minute or so.

The U.S. women secured their spot in the final earlier on Wednesday in a tight game against France, with six points each from Plum and Allisha Gray, who is a guard in the WNBA for the Dallas Wings.

If the Olympics had not been postponed, Plum, 26, would not have been able to play.

In June 2020, she experienced a major injury — a torn Achilles tendon. But the extra year gave her enough time to heal and be ready to compete at the Games.

Kara Lawson

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Kara Lawson
Kara Lawson at South Carolina game.jpg
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Duke Blue Devils
Position Head coach
League Atlantic Coast Conference
Personal information
Born February 14, 1981 (age 40)
Alexandria, Virginia
Nationality American
Listed height 5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)
Listed weight 150 lb (68 kg)
Career information
High school West Springfield
(Springfield, Virginia)
College Tennessee (1999–2003)
WNBA draft 2003 / Round: 1 / Pick: 5th overall
Selected by the Detroit Shock
Playing career 2003–2015
Position Point guard
Number 20
Coaching career 2019–present
Career history
As player:
2003–2009 Sacramento Monarchs
2010–2013 Connecticut Sun
2014–2015 Washington Mystics
As coach:
20192020 Boston Celtics (assistant)
2020–present Duke
Career highlights and awards
Stats at WNBA.com
Medals
Women’s basketball
Representing the
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United States
World University Games
Gold medal – first place
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2001 Beijing Team Competition
Olympic Games
Gold medal – first place
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2008 Beijing Team competition
Women’s 3×3 basketball
Head coach for the
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United States
Olympic Games
Gold medal – first place
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2020 Tokyo Team

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Kara Marie Lawson (born February 14, 1981) is the head coach of the Duke Blue Devils women’s basketball team. She is a former American professional women’s basketball player in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) and a basketball television analyst for ESPN and the Washington Wizards. Lawson primarily played as a shooting guard. She won a gold medal at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China. Lawson retired from the WNBA in 2015 to focus on her broadcasting career. She began her coaching career as an assistant coach for the Boston Celtics of the NBA in 2019.

Player career

High school

Lawson attended Sidwell Friends School her freshman year, then went to West Springfield High School, where she played on the girls’ basketball and soccer teams. Lawson was named a WBCA All-American. She participated in the 1999 WBCA High School All-America Game, where she scored twenty points, and earned MVP honors.

College career

Lawson attended the University of Tennessee (UT) and played for the Lady Vols basketball team, coached by Pat Summitt. She enrolled in UT’s College of Business, and graduated in 2003 with a degree in Finance. Lawson received the Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award from the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association as the best senior player under 5 ft 8 in (1.7 m). In 2018, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam named Lawson to the Board of Trustees of the University of Tennessee, the governing body of the UT system.

WNBA

On April 24, 2003, Lawson was selected as the fifth overall pick by the Detroit Shock in the first round of the 2003 WNBA draft. But five days later, the Shock traded Lawson to the Sacramento Monarchs in exchange for Kedra Holland-Corn and a 2004 second-round draft pick. Two years later, Lawson would be a key member of the Monarchs 2005 championship team.

Lawson was a free agent when the Sacramento Monarchs folded prior to the 2010 WNBA season, but later signed a three-year contract with the Connecticut Sun. On March 12, 2014, Lawson was traded to the Washington Mystics for Alex Bentley, who was originally traded to Washington through the Atlanta Dream.

US national team

Lawson was selected to be a member of the United States national team at the 2001 World University Games held in Beijing, China. After winning the opening game easily, the USA team faced Canada and lost a close game 68–67. Needing a win to remain in medal contention, Lawson scored 25 points to help the USA team defeat Japan, and earn a spot in the quarterfinals. The USA team fell behind by 12 points against undefeated Russia, but came back to win the game by eleven points. The next game was against the unbeaten host team China, and the USA team won 89–78. The USA team won their next two games to set up the gold medal game; a rematch against the host team. China would stay close early, but the USA team prevailed and won the gold medal with a score of 87–67. Lawson was the third leading scorer on the team with 12.0 points per game and led the team in assists and steal with 16 assists and 12 steals over the course of the event.

On July 10, 2008, Lawson was selected to represent the United States with the USA women’s national basketball team at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China. She helped the United States capture the gold medal, and led the team in points (15) during the gold medal game against Australia, going a perfect 5-5 from the field and 4-4 from the free throw line.

Lawson was invited to the USA Basketball Women’s National Team training camp in the fall of 2009. The team selected to play for the 2010 FIBA World Championship and the 2012 Olympics is usually chosen from these participants. At the conclusion of the training camp, the team will travel to Ekaterinburg, Russia, where they compete in the 2009 UMMC Ekaterinburg International Invitational.

Lawson was one of 21 finalists for the U.S. Women’s Olympic Basketball Team Roster. The 20 professional women’s basketball players, plus one collegiate player (Brittney Griner), were selected by the USA Basketball Women’s National Team Player Selection Committee to compete for the final roster to represent the US at the 2012 Olympics in London, United Kingdom. However, Lawson did not make the final roster.

Player statistics

Legend
  GP Games played   GS Games started  MPG Minutes per game  RPG Rebounds per game
 APG Assists per game  SPG Steals per game  BPG Blocks per game  PPG Points per game
 TO Turnovers per game  FG% Field-goal percentage  3P% 3-point field-goal percentage  FT% Free-throw percentage
 Bold Career high ° League leader

College

Year Team GP Points FG% 3P% FT% RPG APG SPG BPG PPG
1999-00 Tennessee 37 504 45.8 43.6 81.7 4.1 2.8 1.4 0.2 13.6
2000-01 Tennessee 34 386 43.3 41.3 85.7 3.5 3.3 1.0 0.1 11.4
2001-02 Tennessee 34 512 46.6 33.0 83.5 4.9 2.6 1.4 0.1 15.1
2002-03 Tennessee 38 548 46.9 45.0 88.4 4.9 4.0 1.1 0.2 14.4
Career Tennessee 143 1950 45.8 41.5 84.7 4.3 3.2 1.2 0.1 13.6

 

WNBA

Regular season

Year Team GP GS MPG FG% 3P% FT% RPG APG SPG BPG TO PPG
2003 Sacramento 34 0 22.6 .392 .400 .775 3.1 1.6 0.4 0.1 1.2 7.7
2004 Sacramento 34 10 24.3 .420 .381 .841 2.3 2.0 0.6 0.2 1.6 8.6
2005 Sacramento 24 1 21.2 .439 .444 .839 1.4 1.5 0.5 0.1 0.9 8.0
2006 Sacramento 34 6 22.1 .397 .398 .923 1.9 1.6 0.6 0.1 1.3 8.1
2007 Sacramento 34 0 22.8 .376 .338 .841 2.4 2.0 0.9 0.2 1.4 11.0
2008 Sacramento 32 32 25.9 .405 .432 .914 2.6 2.1 0.9 0.1 1.5 12.2
2009 Sacramento 25 5 24.2 .380 .336 .939 2.1 2.5 0.6 0.0 1.4 8.8
2010 Connecticut 34 32 25.1 .409 .359 .895 2.6 3.5 0.4 0.0 1.4 8.3
2011 Connecticut 33 8 25.2 .449 .430 .890 2.6 2.9 0.7 0.0 1.4 10.4
2012 Connecticut 34 34 31.4 .493 .430 .935 3.9 4.0 0.8 0.1 1.8 15.1
2013 Connecticut 9 6 30.1 .437 .458 .857 3.7 4.2 0.6 0.1 2.4 13.8
2014 Washington 28 4 21.8 .379 .337 .935 2.9 2.5 0.3 0.0 1.3 7.0
2015 Washington 22 21 25.0 .389 .321 .938 3.0 3.6 0.6 0.1 1.1 9.6
Career 13 years, 3 teams 377 159 24.5 .414 .390 .890 2.6 2.5 0.6 0.1 1.4 9.8

Playoffs

Year Team GP GS MPG FG% 3P% FT% RPG APG SPG BPG TO PPG
2003 Sacramento 6 ? 25.7 .214 .304 .875 3.8 2.7 1.0 0.3 0.7 5.3
2004 Sacramento 6 ? 25.5 .370 .417 .889 2.5 1.8 8.0 0.2 0.8 9.7
2005 Sacramento 8 ? 26.0 .433 .517 .944 3.6 2.3 8.0 0.1 1.4 11.3
2006 Sacramento 9 ? 32.1 .448 .438 .786 3.4 1.6 9.0 0.1 1.3 12.2
2007 Sacramento 3 ? 25.0 .500 .385 .857 2.3 3.0 3.0 0.7 0.7 12.3
2008 Sacramento 3 ? 27.0 .478 .375 .800 5.0 4.3 2.0 0.0 2.3 9.7
2011 Connecticut 2 ? 18.5 .400 .571 .750 0.5 3.5 0.0 0.0 1.5 7.5
2012 Connecticut 5 ? 35.0 .442 .433 1.000 4.8 3.8 6.0 0.2 1.8 14.6
2014 Washington 2 ? 26.0 .526 .444 1.000 3.0 3.5 1.0 0.0 1.5 14.5
2015 Washington 3 ? 16.7 .353 .750 1.000 1.3 0.7 1.0 0.0 1.7 6.0
Career 10 years, 3 teams 47 ? 27.1 .413 .436 .897 3.3 2.5 39.0 0.2 1.3 10.4

Broadcasting career

Lawson began her broadcasting career while still playing in the WNBA. She served as a studio analyst for the Sacramento Kings, and worked her way up to working in a variety of NBA and WNBA broadcast roles for ESPN. On January 12, 2007, she was the first woman to work as a nationwide broadcast analyst for an NBA game, when the New Orleans Hornets took on the Washington Wizards.

In 2017, Lawson was named the primary television game analyst for the Washington Wizards, replacing longtime analyst Phil Chenier as full-time host. She is one of the first primary female TV analysts for an NBA team, joining Sarah Kustok of the Brooklyn Nets.

Coaching career

On June 27, 2019, the Boston Celtics of the National Basketball Association (NBA) announced that Lawson would join the team as an assistant coach. During her tenure as assistant coach in the 2019–20 season, Lawson worked closely with Marcus Smart, a defensive-minded point guard, as a shooting coach.

On July 11, 2020, it was announced that Lawson was hired as the head coach of the Duke Blue Devils women’s basketball team. Her first season as head coach lasted four games after the decision to end the season in late December 2020 due to concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic.

Head coaching record

Statistics overview
Season Team Overall Conference Standing Postseason
Duke Blue Devils (Atlantic Coast Conference) (2020–present)
2020–21 Duke 3–1 0–1
Duke: 3–1 (.750) 0–1 (.000)
Total: 3–1 (.750)
      National champion         Postseason invitational champion  
 Conference regular season champion         Conference regular season and conference tournament champion
 Division regular season champion       Division regular season and conference tournament champion
 Conference tournament champion

Personal life

Lawson is married to Damien Barling, whom she met while working in Sacramento soon after the Monarchs’ WNBA championship win. They were married in April 2008. Barling is a radio broadcaster in the Sacramento area for ESPN 1320. He also interviewed Lawson on his show following her officially being named as color analyst.

Notes