The IX: Basketball Wednesday with Howard Megdal, December 8, 2021
Sandy Brondello. (WNBA Media Central)
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:
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.