After the San Antonio Silver Stars chose not to renew Sandy Brondello's contract back in December, she finds herself re-employed today as a member of the Los Angeles Sparks coaching staff along with Joe "Jellybean" Bryant.
Always considered a strong assistant in San Antonio prior to being promoted to head coach when Dan Hughes stepped down before the 2010 season, you have to figure that having a year of head coaching experience under her belt will only make her a stronger assistant now. Although the Silver Stars quickly decided to go in a new (or old) direction this season with Hughes stepping back into the head coaching role, James actually wrote in a post about the 2010 Coach of the Year that Brondello was right in the middle of the pack. When you consider the number of (constant) injuries that the Silver Stars suffered, that's an accomplishment.
In addition to the fact Joe "Jellybean" Bryant (who is actually in Japan right now) fathered Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe, Joe previously coached the Sparks from 2005-06 and led the team to the second-best record in the league and Western Conference Finals in 2006.
The signings have the Sparks rather excited about their chances this season.
"I feel we've assembled a strong and diverse coaching staff, one that compliments our talented roster and can guide the Sparks to a WNBA title in 2011," General Manager Penny Toler said in a release. "Jennifer, Joe and Sandy are all exceptionally skilled in both player development and game management, and are excited to begin working together."
It's hard to say right now how close the Sparks are to a championship - they unquestionably improved with their off-season signings, but the Seattle Storm are still the Storm, Diana Taurasi will be more rested than normal, and the Minnesota Lynx are adding Maya Moore.
But what's definitely interesting is that they've surrounded head coach Jennifer Gillom - who just had her first truly full season of head coaching last season (including off-season and a pre-season) after being hastily promoted to head coach of the Lynx just before the start of the regular season in 2009 - with two other coaches with less than two years head coaching experience. Although none of them could be considered "veteran" head coaches per se, they all unquestionably have room to grow and it will be interesting to see how they grow together as a group to lead a rather veteran Sparks team.