Brondello: 'I Want a Tough Team'

By Ben York,
Posted: November 15, 2013

Sandy Brondello's excitement and enthusiasm is infectious and not just on the basketball court.

Recently named the ninth head coach in Mercury franchise history, Brondello has been a coach in the WNBA for nine years and affiliated with the league for 14 of its 17 seasons (including her time as a player). Her leadership as both a head and assistant coach in the WNBA has translated to six playoff appearances, three conference finals berths and a spot in the 2008 WNBA Finals.

More on Sandy Brondello: PHOTOS: Brondello Through the Years | Official Press Release | 2014 Season Tickets
Furthermore, during the WNBA offseason, Brondello is an assistant coach with Russian League team UMMC, the same star-laden club that Diana Taurasi plays for.

Quite simply, Brondello lives and breathes women's professional basketball on a global level. caught up with Brondello for an exclusive Q&A on her new position, the type of coach the X-Factor can expect and her profound desire to lead the Mercury to another WNBA Championship. Sandy Brondello Head Coach of the two-time WNBA Champion Phoenix Mercury. Has a nice ring to it, right?

Sandy Brondello: It definitely does. It is an honor to be a part of such a great organization that has had so much past success. I look forward to building some of my own! In your own words, what was so attractive about the position?

Brondello: Everything! The team has some very good players already on the roster which gives me a great platform to work with, has a great history with two championships, a vocal and supportive fan base and management that is one of the best in the league.

Hard for any coach not to want such a position. You inherit a team that includes Diana Taurasi and Brittney Griner amongst other stars like DeWanna Bonner, Penny Taylor and Candice Dupree. What are your impressions of Diana and Brittney specifically?

Brondello: Diana and Brittney are two players who are game-changers in our league. Diana is one of the best players in the world and one of the most competitive players I have ever coached [Brondello is currently an assistant coach for UMMC, the team Taurasi plays for in the off-season]. She is one of the hardest working players I have ever been around both in her individual workouts and in a collective setting. She makes everyone around her better.

I feel Brittney has learned a lot last season in her first year as a professional player, especially considering she dealt with injuries. I believe we can expect an even greater improvement in 2014. She has a great future ahead of her if she continues to get stronger and work on her game. Having such a great play-maker and a big post that can dominate down low helps every team have success. What's one thing you believe the Mercury does well and one area you want to see immediate improvement in?

Brondello: I think the Mercury teams of the past have been very good offensive teams. I want to continue that and grow the team even more in this area by putting in a system that focuses on teamwork and movement to put players in the best positions to score. I want to continue to build on the defensive side of the ball and develop a tougher team both physically and mentally one that is built on playing as a unit. You've coached against the Mercury for many years. What are your impressions of Mercury fans, and the city of Phoenix in general?

Brondello: The Mercury fans are the best in the WNBA. They are so supportive of their team. It has always been one of the most difficult places to win as a visitor. The organization has done such a great job of getting people to games to support the team. Phoenix is one of the cities I have always said I could live in ever since I visited my friend Michele Timms in 1997 when she began playing for the team. I look forward to living there during the WNBA season. What will you bring to the Mercury from your past experience as a head coach for the San Antonio Silver Stars? What are some of the challenges you anticipate facing?

Brondello: I am a positive person so even though it was only for one short season coaching the Silver Stars, the lessons learned from the experience were beneficial. I know I am a better coach now from not only that experience, but also from the experiences I have had coaching all year round in the WNBA, Australia and now Europe.

I am more settled with how I want the game to be played but I also know that you have to play the style that best suits your personnel. I think every team will have challenges at different times of the season whether it is losses, fatigue or injuries. I welcome these challenges as long as we recognize that they can be a great tool for growth. We want to be a team that can handle adversity. Obviously, it's still very early, but what kind of coach can Mercury fans expect to see? The Mercury has been known as an up-tempo team for many years but became more defensive-oriented toward the end of 2013. How would you describe your coaching style?

Brondello: I want the 2014 Phoenix Mercury to play a complete game. You need to be able to compete on both ends of the floor if you want to have success. I expect us to run when we can, execute in the half court when we must and value the defensive end the entire time.

Most importantly, I want my team to be a cohesive unit on both ends of the ball displaying teamwork. Fill in the blank. Your goal as head coach of the Phoenix Mercury is ________________.

Brondello: To put a team on the floor that competes every day both in practice and in games. Winning a championship is the end product but I want the players to concentrate on the process, focusing on getting better every day by working on our/their game, having discipline to follow the game plan to the best of their ability and by playing together.

I feel if I can get the team to do this, the chance of winning is much higher.