What more could Sandy Brondello have done? — Must-click women’s basketball links — Brenda Frese talks Maryland win

The IX: Basketball Wednesday with Howard Megdal, December 8, 2021

It’s been a very busy week in women’s basketball, from multiple WNBA coaching changes to Paige Bueckers’ injury to the changing of the guard in USA Basketball. We’ll have more on the latter next week. But I want to talk about Sandy Brondello today, longtime and now former coach of the Phoenix Mercury.

Here’s how the decision to move on from Brondello was described by general manager Jim Pitman:

So she’s had unprecedented success, came two wins shy of a title this past season, and thus… a new voice is needed.

There’s just not a lot of logic here. If there is unhappiness within the player ranks, I’m hard-pressed to imagine who is capable of doing more with what the Mercury have on hand. At the very least, it behooves Phoenix to have a plan for quick succession in place if they made this move.

Brondello immediately becomes the strongest candidate to fill the vacancy with the New York Liberty, and more generally, will be the shadow candidate hovering over every other WNBA coach each time a team suffers so much as a three-game losing streak.

Further, how quickly Brondello finds another job will be, itself, a test of how often, and how well, the WNBA does at giving second opportunities to incredibly successful women in coaching.

But Phoenix itself is a very specific challenge. The stars on that team live by their own rules. The amount of production that comes from the Big Three of Diana Taurasi, Brittney Griner and Skylar Diggins-Smith makes them vulnerable to injuries or absences from any of them. And a new coach, trying to come in and change that culture, may not find it so easy to do.

Then again, this team just reached the WNBA Finals. So why are they so eager to change the culture again?



This week in women’s basketball

The WNBA is once again leading the way in diversity of hiring.

Derek Willis found some interesting data on the turnovers committed so far this season.

Netty Vonleh is a player to know for Arizona.

Natasha Cloud wants a WNBA team in Philly, another thing she’s right about.

Tonya Edwards profile by Cora Hall.

Adam Vachon takes you through the week in NCAAW.

Ben Pickman weighs in on Sandy Brondello’s exit.

Chantel Jennings has some ideas for the WNBA coaching vacancies.

I spent Sunday at Maryland-Rutgers. Be the dog, you guys.

And Alexa Philippou has everything you need to know about Paige Bueckers’ injury.


Tweet of the week


Five at The IX: Brenda Frese, Maryland head coach, and Maryland players Angel Reese, Shyanne Sellers and Chloe Bibby

Brenda Frese. (Howard Megdal photo)

Mondays: Soccer
By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson, AP Women’s Soccer
Tuesdays: Tennis
By: Joey Dillon, @JoeyDillon, Freelance Tennis Writer
Wednesdays: Basketball
By: Howard Megdal, @HowardMegdal, The Next
Thursdays: Golf
By: Addie Parker, @addie_parker, The IX
Fridays: Hockey
By: Anne Tokarski, @annetokarski, The Ice Garden
Saturdays: Gymnastics
By: Jessica Taylor Price, @jesstaylorprice, Freelance Gymnastics Writer

Written by Howard Megdal

Howard is the founder of The Next and editor-in-chief.