Pass The Ball: Early Coach of the Year Ballot
With a quarter of the season complete, which coaches have emerged as Coach of the Year candidates? Our WNBAinsidr staff weighs in.
1. Who is your top choice for coach of the year?
Rachel Galligan: Dan Hughes due to what he’s been able to do with that Storm team. Considering the talent they have and the amount of early success they have had. He’s done a tremendous job.
Brady Klopfer: Curt Miller: That the Connecticut Sun are near the top of the league shouldn't surprise too many people who have been paying attention - they're a very talented team. Still, 7-3 is an elite record, and the Sun have been exceptional in nearly every phase of the game. Their well-balanced attack has made Connecticut a nightmare to coach against, and Miller deserves a lot of credit for that. The Sun are playing with confidence and authority, and look like a serious contender to win it all.
Pat Ralph: When Seattle hired Dan Hughes this past offseason, I was skeptical that he was the right hire to get the Storm back into title contention. But through 11 games, the Storm are 8-3 and would have a first-round playoff bye if the regular season ended today. Behind the play of Breanna Stewart and Jewell Lloyd, the Storm have arguably the best offense in the WNBA. Hughes has taken a talented fringe playoff team and turned it into a title contender.
2. Who is your second choice for coach of the year?
Galligan: Curt Miller. He continues to build a strong Sun team that is leading the way without a true dominant player. He arguably could be COY.
Klopfer: Brian Agler. The Los Angeles Sparks are still a ways away from their potential. But for a team that started the season without an MVP in Candace Parker, and fellow bigs Jantel Lavender and Maria Vadeeva, 7-2 is a mighty impressive record. The Sparks have spent much of the year undersized and with a truncated roster, but they've found numerous ways to negate their size disadvantage and best their opponents. LA is a perennial contender and Agler's squad is already showing why.
Ralph: Nicki Collen, Atlanta Dream: My preseason pick for Coach of the Year would be my top vote-getter if it was not for the Storm’s strong start under Hughes. As expected by many, Collen is showing us thus far why she was a popular head coaching hire last offseason. Under Collen, the Dream have become one of the best defensive teams in the WNBA. Not to mention, Collen has done well at utilizing Atlanta’s depth. If the season ended today, the Dream at 6-4 would be back in the playoffs with a home playoff game in the first round.
3. Who is your third choice for coach of the year?
Galligan: Nicki Collen, Dream. In a young first season as a head coach, she’s pulled off some big wins and she was able to upset the Sun. The Dream are a true threat to anyone in the league.
Klopfer: Sandy Brondello. After a slow start to the season, the Phoenix Mercury are riding a six-game winning streak, and Brondello's whiteboard abilities are shining. Having Brittney Griner and Diana Taurasi is a good head start, but Brondello has masterfully implemented a smooth and effective inside-out game for the Mercury. The defense looks mighty impressive, and Phoenix is playing with a large amount of cohesion.
Ralph: Curt Miller, Sun: The defending Coach of the Year winner has the Sun near the top of the league. For most of the season, Connecticut established itself as the best team in the WNBA. Under Miller, the Sun have arguably been the most dominant and balanced team on both ends of the floor. Miller has also been able to successfully reintegrate Chiney Ogwumike back into the rotation alongside their other talented frontcourt players. With the way Connecticut is playing right now, it’s hard not to imagine the Sun playing in the WNBA Finals.