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Russ Pennell will not return as Phoenix Mercury head coach

The Mercury will be yet another team looking for a new head coach with Russ Pennell moving on.

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Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sport

After helping the Phoenix Mercury turn things around this past season, a number of WNBA fans have wondered whether interim coach Russ Pennell would return for the 2014 season.

Today we got our answer with Jeff Metcalfe of the Arizona Republic reporting that Pennell is looking to return to college basketball.

Russ Pennell will not return as the Mercury's coach in 2014 after serving as interim coach for the final 18 games this season.

"I just wanted to stay in college basketball," Pennell said Friday. "I had a great time with the Mercury. They treated me great from the top down. At the end of the day, my calling is in college basketball, and it was in the best interest for me and my family to pursue some other things."

Pennell was named interim coach after the Mercury fired former coach Corey Gaines on August 8 and performed about as well as anyone could have expected for a women's basketball novice assuming control at mid-season: the Mercury did make some concrete improvements on the defensive end that led to an 11-7 record and another trip to the Western Conference Finals.

For whatever reason, they were underachieving with Gaines as coach and Pennell helped get things moving in the right direction. Yet while that initial change was certainly necessary, the Mercury now face an offseason with a lot of uncertainty as one of three teams searching for a new head coach after entering the 2013 season looking overconfident.