The Invulnerable (?) WNBA Coach of the Year

On one of the message boards I follow, a fellow Dream fan suggested that Ivory Latta was pretty much toast.


latta is history......meadors has got media and fan opinions to where latta hasn't the support she had when she s**tcanned her before.....she can get rid of her now without much backlash.....which is what she caved to last time

I wonder if part of the media opinion, as it were, comes from Meadors winning Coach of the Year. Here is the list of all of the COY winners in WNBA history, along with their records when they were COY.

1997-99: Van Chancellor (18-10, 27-3, 26-6)
2000: Michael Cooper (28-4)
2001, 07: Dan Hughes (22-10, 20-14)
2002: Marianne Stanley (17-15)
2003: Bill Laimbeer (25-9)
2004: Suzie McConnell Serio (18-16)
2005: John Whisenant (25-9)
2006, 08: Mike Thibault (26-8, 21-13)
2009: Marynell Meadors (18-16)

What was the fate of each of these coaches?

Here is the list of final fates of each of these coaches:

Van Chancellor: Resigned in January 2007, after coaching the Comets from 1997 to 2006. Two months later, Chancellor was named women's basketball coach at LSU, where he remains as of 2009.

Michael Cooper: Cooper coached the Los Angeles Sparks from 1999 through 2004. He actually resigned in mid-season in 2004 to take a assistant job with the Denver Nuggets, but completed the 2004 season. He was rehired by the Sparks in 2007 after they fired Joe Bryant...and then, in early 2009, he resigned to coach the USC women's basketball team, once again completing the season despite resigning.

Dan Hughes: Hughes first coached the Cleveland Rockers from 2000 to 2003. The team, however, ceased operations in 2003, so after a year as the assistant commissioner of the Mid-American Conference for men's basketball operations, Hughes joined the San Antonio Silver Stars as head coach and has remained there ever since.

Marianne Stanley: Stanley won her COY award at the end of the 2002 season, bringing the team to an 17-15 record and the Eastern Conference finals after finishing 10-22 the year before. The next year, the Mystics were 9-25. Stanley resigned in January 2004, and hasn't been a head coach in the WNBA since.

Bill Laimbeer: Laimbeer took over as head coach of the Detroit Shock in the middle of 2002. In 2003, the Shock won their first WNBA championship and he became COY. He would win two more WNBA championships as head coach of the Shock. However, he abruptly resigned after just a few games in the 2009 season, partly because he wanted to move on to coach in the NBA.

Suzie McConnell Serio: McConnell Serio took over the Minnesota Lynx in time for the 2003 season. After two good seasons, McConnell Serio was named COY in 2004. However, the Lynx fell to 14-20 in 2005 and McConnell Serio resigned in the middle of the 2006 season with the Lynx on their way to a 10-24 record.

John Whisenant: Whisenant started as GM of the Sacramento Monarchs in the 2003 season but took over as coach in mid-season after coach Maura McHugh was fired in mid-season. The Monarchs rose to claim the WNBA championship in 2005 when Whisenant won his COY, and won the conference title in 2006. He resigned at the end of the 2006 season but remained general manager. In 2009, when Jenny Boucek was fired in mid-season, Whisenant took over again as head coach, but the franchise folded at the end of the 2009 season.

Mike Thibault: Thibault was named head coach of the Connecticut Sun in 2003 and has remained their head coach until the present day, picking up COY honors in 2006 and 2008.

Marynell Meadors: Meadors was one of the original eight WNBA coaches, serving as coach and GM of the Charlotte Sting. However, she was fired in mid-season in 1999 after a 5-7 start. She would be named head coach of the Atlanta Dream at the beginning of the 2007 season, and she remains Atlanta's head coach.

(* * *)

It appears that the COY is only awarded to teams that take their teams to the playoffs - no non-playoff team ever won COY. This makes sense, since at least 50 percent of teams in the WNBA make the postseason in any given year.

There are only four cases where the team did not win 20 games. The first, Van Chancellors, is an aberration - his 18-10 record as Comets head coach was the best record in the league, and the Comets won the first of their four straight championships.

In the case of Stanley, McConnell Serio and Meadors, only Meadors has coached a team to record beyond two games above .500. (Meadors's Charlotte Sting of 1988 were 18-12.) In all three cases, the award was granted to the coach for pulling her team out of a horrible previous season and into a playoff appearance. For Stanley and McConnell Serio, the glory would be short lived - when their teams fell back into a pattern of mediocrity, they were out of a job. Stanley got one year, McConnell Serio got one-and-a-half.

But in any event, Meadors should be safe throughout the 2010 season. Don't expect any sudden firings. If the Dream come back to the playoffs in 2010, the Atlanta job might belong to Marynell Meadors until she decides to retire. However, if the 2010 Dream have an abysmal season, being Coach of the Year in 2009 might not be enough to save Meadors.

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