What are the obstacles facing Stephanie White and the five new WNBA coaches?

With the official announcement on Monday that Stephanie White has been appointed as the new head coach of the Connecticut SunEvery WNBA coaching position is now being filled for the 2023 season.

White is returning to the WNBA, where she was previously the head coach Indiana fever In 2015 and 2016. There are also new coaches of Dallas Suites (Latricia Tramell), Indiana (Christie Sides), and W Los Angeles Sparks (Kurt Miller) W Sophia Washington (Eric Tebow). Both White and Miller have been head coaches at the WNBA level—for the past seven years, Miller has led the Sun team that White is now in charge of—while the others have been assistants in the WNBA.

The final sale of the Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Mercury It still likely affects Mercury’s coaching position, however Vanessa Nygaard It is preparing to return for its second season there. White, Trammell, Sides, Miller, and Thibault all have a long history in women’s college basketball and the WNBA. But each has its own journeys.

Here’s a look at their backgrounds, strengths, and some of the challenges they may face.

Connecticut Sun
Outside: Kurt Miller
in: Stephanie White

Miller, who led the Sun to the 2022 WNBA Finals, left Connecticut to become the head coach of Los Angeles Sparks On October 21st. Miller felt it was time for a change after leading the Sun to the WNBA Finals twice in his tenure. White has a long history in the WNBA as a player and coach.

Who is white? One of the greatest prep players in Indiana history, she led Purdue to the 1999 NCAA title, then played five seasons in the WNBA. I’ve coached in college and coached the WNBA, most recently at Vanderbilt.

Why is it a good hire: Things didn’t turn out as well as White had hoped at Vanderbilt, going 46-83 in five seasons. But WNBA coaching is completely different. It’s about managing talent and making strategic decisions, not hiring. White was an assistant Indiana fever The team that won the 2012 WNBA title and the head coach of the last Fever team to reach the WNBA Finals, in 2015.

Biggest question: Could White be the coach who finally led the Suns to their first WNBA title? Some key players are set to return, but the window may be closing for this group.


Dallas Suites
Outside:
Vicki Johnson
in: Latricia Trammell

Dallas introduced Trammell as his head coach on November 7. Johnson was fired on September 19 after leading the Wings to a 32-36 record and playoff appearances in 2021 and 2022. Considering the progression the Wings have made in winning their first playoff game. Since moving to Dallas in 2016, some believed Johnson would get a chance to continue. But the wings advanced.

Who is Trammel? A Sparks assistant for the past four seasons, Trammell has coached for over 30 years at the high school, college, and pro levels. She is known for faking good chemistry while building relationships and is considered particularly powerful in the X and O defenses.

Why is it a good hire: Good coaches can succeed anywhere geographically. But there is something to be said for Trammell, who knows the north Texas territory as a native Oklahoman. She has a “pop” style – and yes, we mean that in a free way – that players and fans can feel comfortable with. But she also has a history as a winner, with two NAIA national championships.

Biggest question: Can Tramell lead an organization this far from being a ‘very good’ team at times that still isn’t among the league’s elite? The Wings have a lot of young talent, led by Ariki Ogunpoel, but they weren’t a team anyone really thought was serious about being in the mix for a long playoff run. We’ll see if this changes.


Indiana fever
Outside:
Carlos Knox
in: Christy Sides

Sides was appointed coach on 4 November. She replaced Knox, who coached 27 games on an interim basis after Marian Stanley was fired in May when Fever started 2-7. Things did not improve under Knox, who went 3-24. Indiana has not made the WNBA playoffs since 2016, but the Fever has the first pick in the 2023 draft.

Who are the two sides: Like White, she also played in the 1999 Final Four; Her Louisiana Tech team lost in the semifinals to White Birdo. Sides from Louisiana, played her first two seasons in college at Ole Miss and her last two seasons at Louisiana Tech. Then I started training. She has served as an assistant on four collegiate programs and three WNBA and outdoor teams in Russia. Now, she is a head coach for the first time.

Why is it a good hire: Sides has spent much of her time as an assistant with Pokey Chatman, at the college, WNBA and international levels. She has a lot of experience with what works on a professional level and what doesn’t. Sides was part of Chatman’s Fever cast for the first few seasons after Tamika Catchings retired in 2016, so she must have a pretty good idea of ​​what went wrong.

Biggest question: Can Sides stop a six year fever slide? If all goes as expected, South Carolina will have it high boston As a new star of a young team. On both sides help change the fever mentality. Because even though they didn’t want to, the Fever got used to losing.


Los Angeles Sparks
Outside:
Fred Williams
in: Kurt Miller

WNBA/college veteran Williams earned the interim mark on June 7 after firing Derek Fisher early in his fourth season after going 54-46. Williams, who will not be retained, is now an assistant coach at Auburn. The Sparks missed the playoffs under Fisher in 2021 for the first time since 2011, and then missed the postseason again this year under Williams.

Who is Miller: He was a college assistant for ten years before taking over as the head coach of Bowling Green in 2001. After 11 seasons there, he coached Indiana for two years and then moved to the NBA for one year as an assistant. He then took over the Connecticut Sun, leading them to six playoff berths in seven seasons, including two trips to the WNBA Finals.

Why is it a good hire: It looks like Sparks and Miller are all set to reset. Los Angeles has won three WNBA titles, but the most recent one was in 2016, and the major players are loving it. Candace Parker And the Chelsea Gray Since then they left as free agents. Miller is back in the Finals this year, but there seems to be an increasing distance between him, the organization, and the players. This is not uncommon at the professional level. He is a solid strategic coach who can bring some new energy to the Sparks

Biggest question: Can Miller help turn Mojo Sparks? Because it was on a slope. Los Angeles should be a free agent destination. Miller is not currently in the general manager position in Los Angeles, as he was in Connecticut, but he still has a lot to do with personnel decisions and how they affect chemistry. Sparks always seem to have it some The drama continues, but at its best, it was part of their mystery. In the past few years, that has been part of their downfall.


Sophia Washington
Outside:
Mike Thibault
in: Eric Tebow

Mike Thibault announced he was retiring from coaching on November 15, and elevated Mystics assistant coach Eric Thibault, Mike’s son, to the head coaching position. Mike Thibault will continue as General Manager.

Who is Eric Thibault? Like his sister Carly, who coaches the Fairfield women’s team, Eric has been coaching basketball his whole life. He’s spent the past decade working with his dad with the Mystics.

Why is it a good hire: No one knows the Mystics better than Eric Thibault, so there wouldn’t be a major transfer or need for the team to get to know him and vice versa. Eric, 35, was a key part of Washington’s only championship season in 2019.

Biggest question: Can he establish his own identity while making the most of the Mystics’ tournament window? Eric established himself as an assistant, but he was employed by his father. There were questions about whether the Mystics did the right thing in passing the coaching torch from father to son without opening up the position and seriously considering other candidates. It is clear that the organization feels he is the best for the job. These situations are always a little tricky, and Eric knows that eyes will be waiting for him to see how he takes matters into his own hands. He had plenty of time to prepare for it.


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