clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Sparks Watch Day 20: Which WNBA assistant coaches could be a good head coach for a Bay Area team?

Happy Tuesday everyone! This is the second part of head coach candidates for the Los Angeles Sparks under Joe Lacob's potential ownership. Today, we'll look at some candidates who were WNBA assistant coaches last year who may be good fits for the team as a head coach.

Indiana Fever assistant coach Stephanie White has been considered to be one of the top assistants in the WNBA, and coaching the current Sparks team could be enticing for her.
Indiana Fever assistant coach Stephanie White has been considered to be one of the top assistants in the WNBA, and coaching the current Sparks team could be enticing for her.
Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE

Like any other business when there's new executive management in place, there will likely be some changes in personnel. In the sports world, when a new team owner comes in, he is going to want to put in people who are "his guys." Therefore, it won't surprise me to see the Sparks hire someone else besides Carol Ross to be the new head coach of the team.

One of the bigger pipelines on where head coaches come from is from those coaches who are currently assistants on other WNBA teams. So let's take a look at assistant coaches who may be good candidates for this job.

The Candidates

1. Jenny Boucek, Seattle Storm

Why: Boucek was the head coach of the Sacramento Monarchs from 2007 until the middle of the 2009 season. She led the Monarchs to playoff berths in her first two seasons.
Why Not: Boucek appears really happy to be in Seattle and was named the Associate Head Coach of the team recently. That announcement came after she acknowledged interviewing for the Tulsa Shock head coaching position where she declined the opportunity there if she was offered the job.

I personally think that this "Associate Head Coach" title is just a promotion in name only, but if nothing else, this also means that the Storm is probably putting her in line to succeed Brian Agler.
Will she leave Seattle if offered the job?: If I'm Boucek, I'd leave. This team is better constructed to win now than the Storm, where its championship window has already passed by, at least in my opinion. But I don't know if she has the fire in her belly (sorry for the cliché) to move to one of the Storm's key rivals, because again, she does appear to be very happy in Seattle.

2. Stephanie White, Indiana Fever

Why: She is regarded by many around the league to be one of the rising assistant coaches in the WNBA. That will give her good references to be a head coach sooner rather than later.
Why Not: White is from Indiana and she also is likely being groomed to be current head coach Lin Dunn's successor, so it's not like this job is the only head coaching chance she'll get. And this is just icing on the cake for her and probably isn't a reason why she shouldn't take a job in the Bay, but White is also an NBA analyst for FOX Sports Indiana for the Pacers.
Will she leave Indianapolis if offered the job?: Like Boucek, If I'm Stephanie White and am offered a job to lead a team with Candace Parker and Nneka Ogwumike, and owned by a rich NBA team owner who is passionate about women's basketball, I pack my bags for Silicon Valley. Also, like I said in Boucek's case, if White leaves to the Bay Area, she would be the head coach of a team that is better equipped to win a WNBA championship than the Indiana Fever at least on paper.

And again, I don't know if White has the fire in her belly to move out west. But this job has gotta be much more desirable for her than the Tulsa Shock vacancy if she wants to win right away.

3. Julie Plank, Atlanta Dream

Why: Plank was with the Dream last year, but is best known as being the head coach of the Washington Mystics in 2009 and 2010. In 2010, she led DC to their only 20 win season ever. The in the subsequent offseason, she was let go, which most people believe was not justified. This would give her some vindication in my opinion. Also with this team, she would be reunited with Lindsey Harding, who was a major factor in helping the Mystics play competitively in those two years.
Why Not: I personally don't have any reason why she shouldn't be hired as a head coach. But in 2011 and 2012, she wasn't coaching any team in any capacity, and there probably is a reason for that, whatever it may be, and Lacob should try to find out why.
Will she accept if offered the job?: I would think that Plank will accept any head coaching offer that comes her way. But it's questionable as to whether she is a better option for this team than Carol Ross is right now.

4. Marianne Stanley, Washington Mystics

Why: Stanley is one of the most highly regarded women's basketball coaches in history, especially at the college level having won multiple national championships at Old Dominion. She also has been the head coach at Cal and USC as well as an assistant at Stanford, so she has West Coast ties in her coaching resumé.

As a WNBA head coach, she was with the Mystics in 2002 and 2003 and led DC to their only Eastern Conference Finals appearance in her first year there. Today, Stanley is with the Mystics again, working with their posts. If she leaves for the Sparks, Stanley would get to work with Candace Parker and Nneka Ogwumike, who are upgrades over the players she has right now for sure.
Why Not: Stanley may not be interested in being a head coach. Also, as a WNBA head coach, she was fired after the 2003 season after leading the Mystics to a bad record after winning Coach of the Year just the year before.
Will she leave DC if offered the job?: I don't know. If Stanley is interested in being a head coach again, this could be a great opportunity because this team has more potential than the Mystics right now so if she is offered the job, she should leave. But Stanley also appears happy to stay in DC.

5. Jennifer Gillom, Connecticut Sun

Why: Gillom has spent over two season as a head coach in the past, where she coached the Minnesota Lynx in 2009 and coincidentally, she coached this team back in 2010 and for part of 2011. In 2010, the Sparks made a playoff appearance, but lost in the first round to the Seattle Storm.

In addition, Gillom was named an assistant coach for the 2010 Team USA FIBA World Championship and the 2012 Olympic basketball teams. Also, Gillom is a former WNBA players where she played for six years for the Phoenix Mercury and her last season in LA, so she can relate with current players on the grind of playing professionally. At a minimum, her playing and Team USA coaching experience will give her a leg up toward getting interviews.
Why Not: Gillom's record has a head coach is 31-47, and the 2010 Sparks team was 13-21 despite making the playoffs in a year where the Western Conference as a whole was weak.

But there is something that she can use in her defense for her bad records as a head coach. In 2009 while in Minny, Seimone Augustus missed all but six games due to a torn ACL she suffered early in the season. Then in 2010 while Gillom was in LA, Candace Parker had a dislocated shoulder that forced her to miss most of the season. But good head coaches could at least make those teams .500ish or so. Gillom doesn't even enjoy a .400 winning percentage as a head coach.
Will she leave Connecticut if offered the job?: Gillom would probably leave for a head coaching job if given the chance. She may have taken an assistant coach position for the Mystics in 2012 as a calculated move to be an interim head coach as well, in case then GM/Head Coach Trudi Lacey was terminated midseason. From hindsight, Lacey was terminated after the season, and so was she, but it still was worth the risk if she wanted to get a head coaching job as soon as possible in my opinion.

But considering that her head coaching record isn't good, and that she was an assistant for the last place teams in the Eastern Conference for both 2012 and 2013, it's unlikely that she will get the job even if she gets an interview.

So here are some assistant coaches who could be good fits for this job. Are any of them good fits to you? Or are there other assistant coaches who should be in consideration for the job? To me personally, I don't think any of them except Plank perhaps would be in serious consideration, because Boucek and White, who would be my top choices, probably don't have the burn and desire to be a head coach, at least for this team. Then again, I will gladly eat crow when either of them takes this job! Either way, sound off below in the comments on your opinions!

Tomorrow we'll look at other big names and miscellaneous figures who could be in consideration for this job.