There’s something to be said for continuity.
A key to sustained success in any sport at any level, continuity on the roster and on the bench is especially important in the WNBA in which training camps are short, player arrivals and departures are fluid, and the 34-game regular-season slate is hardly enough time for an extended learning curve.
The Mercury signing of head coach Sandy Brondello to a new contract is another important step for the continuity of an organization seeking a shot at a fourth WNBA title in 2017. Since the league’s inception, only one coach has won a title in his/her first year with an organization—coincidentally (or maybe not), that was Sandy with the Mercury in 2014 (not counting Van Chancellor who won it in everyone’s first year in 1997)—so the W’s history is one that shows that commitment to a consistent voice pays off more often than the alternative.
Let’s be clear, a new contract for Sandy isn’t just a commitment for commitment’s sake. It is well-earned by her performance and the results on the floor. In her three years at the helm of the Mercury, she’s compiled the most wins in a three-year period in franchise history, the most wins by a Mercury coach in his/her first three seasons, and already ranks third on the team’s all-time wins list. Her 65 regular season wins since the start of 2014 are second only to Minnesota’s Cheryl Reeve.
By now, everyone knows about the WNBA-record 29 regular season wins in 2014, the franchise-record 16-game win streak, and becoming the first coach in Mercury history to win the WNBA’s Coach of the Year award. But she also led the Mercury to the first back-to-back 20-win seasons in franchise history, the latter coming in 2015 without Diana Taurasi and Penny Taylor. A consistently dynamic offense that is as aesthetically pleasing as it is statistically prolific, Sandy’s teams were also among the league’s top defensive squads in her first two years.
And it hasn’t just been regular season success, either. She’s got three trips to the WNBA Semifinals (formerly Western Conference Finals) in three years, plus a Finals appearance and a title, the first former player in WNBA history to win a championship as a coach. This year, under the league’s new playoff format, the Mercury were the only road team to win a single-elimination game—and they won two, against fifth-seeded Indiana and third-seeded New York. Her 11 playoff wins are tied for the most in the team’s history.
The results are there.
What the fans can’t always see is how detailed she is in scouting and preparation, how well she works with general manager Jim Pitman to find the overseas talent that some teams might not be watching. What the fans can’t always see is how dedicated she is to the success of the Mercury off the court, too, always making time in the team’s calendar for one more media hit or community appearance, because she understands that the longterm success of the league depends on more than just wins and losses.
So the Mercury made the choice to stick with what works, recognizing the longterm value of continuity, and valuing the job she does, relationships she has built, and her vision going forward. Equally important, Sandy picked the Mercury, recognizing there’s no better organization for which to work, no better fans for which to coach.
Is it 2017 yet?
Click here to send Sandy Brondello a message of thanks or congratulations!