Welcome to the Greatest WNBA Coach of All Time Tournament Bracket Challenge presented by wbasketballblog.com!
There have been many great WNBA Coaches throughout the years, and after the success of ourfirst tournament challenge which featured WNBA players, we thought we would do it again, except this time with coaches.
The tournament is on a smaller scale this time and it only features the top 16 of the greatest WNBA Coaches. Each coach was picked from input from the selection committee. The committee’s members are: Glenn Starkey, Kevin Brown (who both participated in the last bracket challenge), Albert Lee, Tee, Rebecca Wininger and myself (Aneela Khan).
In order to understand who to pick to advance, you need to understand all 16 coaches biographies. The committee members have put together short bios to help you decide on who to pick going forward.
Region W — #1st overall seed – Cheryl Reeve
Cheryl Reeve began her coaching career as an assistant coach for her alma mater, La Salle University. After short, but successful stints as an assistant in the WNBA, Reeve got the call. She was named the head coach for the Minnesota Lynx in 2009. Reeve’s hiring has resulted in four championships, the highest winning percentage ever, and two Coach of the Year honors. – Tee
Region N – #2nd overall seed – Van Chancellor
Three time Coach of the Year and four time WNBA champion, Hall of Famer Van Chancellor set the standard for coaching at the outset of the league. Coming to the W after a long and successful stint at Ole Miss, Chancellor was by far the best qualified and biggest name among the W’s initial set of coaches. Chancellor also coached Team USA to gold at the 2002 World Championships and 2004 Olympics and was named coach of the W’s All Decade team in 2006. – Kevin
Region B – #3rd overall seed – Bill Laimbeer
Laimbeer is currently the General Manager and Head Coach of the Las Vegas Aces where he is in his third season. He has a regular season coaching record of 264-203 which also includes periods with the Detroit Shock (2002-09) and New York Liberty (2003-17). He won three WNBA championships with the Shock in 2003, 2006 and 2008. Before his coaching career, Laimbeer played 14 seasons in the NBA, mostly with the Detroit Pistons where he was part of their 1989 and 1990 championship teams. – Albert
Region A – #4th overall seed – Mike Thibault
Region N – #5th overall seed – John Whisenant
Region A – #6th overall seed – Michael Cooper
The former defensive stalwart of the Showtime Lakers brought his attitude and showtime swagger to the WNBA with instant success and devastating results. Posting incredible Numbers with his Lisa Leslie led Sparks in his first 3 seasons cement his place on this list with 2 WNBA titles in 01 and 02 and besting the Comets record wise in his first season in LA. He continued his career taking a brief stop as Interim Head Coach of the Nuggets before taking over the Sparks again to usher in the Era of Candace Parker and after a stint in the College Game at USC, He later elevated the inconsistent but talent rich Atlanta Dream. While neither run matched up to his Incredible Sparks Run, Cooper is clearly Elite in his services to the WNBA as a head coach. – Glenn
Region W – #7th overall seed – Brian Agler
Brian Agler entry to coaching began in the ABL before coming over to the WNBA in 1999 to lead the Minnesota Lynx. Agler didn’t see much success until his stints with both the Seattle Storm and the Los Angeles Sparks. Coach Agler is the only to lead two different franchises to a championship. – Tee
Region B – #8th overall seed – Linn Dunn
Linn Dunn was the first coach and GM of the then expansion Seattle Storm in 2000. The team started a dismal 6-26, but it is argued she set in motion the building blocks for Seattle’s first championship in 2004. Dunn joined the Indiana Fever in 2008. The Fever were a strong playoff contender every year of Dunn’s tenure, reaching the Conference Finals 3 times and the WNBA Finals twice, where they won the WNBA championship in 2012. While at Indiana, her .578 regular season win percentage rivals most coaches in the league. Dunn’s .535 playoff win percentage places her ninth all-time among coaches who have won the title. Dunn retired from coaching in 2014. – Rebecca
Region N – #9th overall seed – Richie Adubato
Region B – #10th overall seed – Dan Hughes
Hughes is the head coach of the Seattle Storm, where he is entering his third season. He has been with three other teams including the Charlotte Sting (1999), Cleveland Rockers (2000-03) and San Antonio. Silver Stars (2005-09 and 2011-16). Hughes has a regular season coaching record of 281-311 and won the 2018 WNBA championship with the Storm. Before coming to the WNBA, he was an assistant coach for several women’s and men’s college basketball teams, including the University of Toledo. – Albert
Region W – #11th overall seed – Sandy Brondello
Sandy Brondello has compiled an overall regular season record of 103-67 in her first five seasons with the Mercury, making her the all-time winningest coach in franchise history. Additionally, Brondello has compiled a 17-12 postseason record at the helm of the Mercury, also ranking her as the winningest coach in franchise history for the postseason. She was named the 2014 WNBA Coach of the Year after leading the team to a WNBA regular season-record 29 wins culminating with a WNBA Championship. Brondello led the San Antonio Silver Stars to a 2010 playoff berth in her lone season at the helm. Her .555 regular season win percentage ranks 7th all-time among coaches with more than 200 games. – Rebecca
Region A – #12th overall seed – Anne Donovan
The WBB pioneer and Olympic Gold Medalist, Anne Donovan may be one of the most Underrated Coaches on our list. Doing much with Little, Anne Donovan was a coach’s coach leading 5 teams to improvements across an over 10 season career in the W. Starting by helping the Expansion Fever exceed expectations in what was an Interim gig while Nell Fortner coached the 2000 Olympic Team. Donavan then took over a Talent Rich but Struggling Charlotte Sting team in 2001. After a 1-10 start, Donovan made the right adjustments, trusted 2nd Round Pick Tammy Sutton Brown to Start, Built around Stars Dawn Staley, Andrea Stinson and Allison Feaster and made an incredible 17-4 finish that included a miraculous run to the WNBA finals before running into the LA Sparks Buzzsaw. After duplicating results the next year, Donovan moved to the Seattle storm to lead the New great tandem of Jackson and Bird to the 2004 WNBA title. After stepping down to win Olympic Gold in 2008 Donovan resurfaced in 2009 with a NY liberty club in Turmoil (Herself already ticketed to take over Seton Hall after the 2010 season) and turned it around in 2010 to a 10 game winning streak 20 win season and Deep playoff run behind Cappie Pondexter and Plenette Pierson. After 3 years laying a title winning foundation in South Orange Donovan had a WNBA final run with the Sun ending in 2015. Tho Anne sadly passed away in 2018, she left behind a legacy of winning despite not always having the best talent that will last well into the W’s history. – Glenn
Region N – #13th overall seed – Marynell Meadors
Marynell Meadors was one of the WNBA’s original eight coaches. She was a general manager. She coached the Charlotte Sting for two years from 1997-1999. She also became director of scouting for the now defunct Miami Sol from the year 1999 to 2002. She then briefly left the WNBA for the college ranks and was hired back as the Washington Mystics assistant coach from 2005 to 2007. In 2008, she was hired as the Atlanta Dream’s general manager and head coach where she had some success and was named WNBA Coach of the Year in 2009. However, in the year 2012, she was fired when the Dream were not performing up to standard. She has not coached in the WNBA since then. –Aneela
Region A – #14th overall seed – Paul Westhead
Most people remember the Guru of GO!, Paul Westhead, for his impossible scoring feats in Men’s Basketball both successfully at Loyola Marymount and Less successfully with the Denver Nuggets in the NBA. However Westhead’s legacy and wild open offense and high scoring totals had an important and championship winning chapter in the WNBA as the title winning coach of the Phoenix Mercury. Taking over in 2006, and having scoring machines in Diana Taurasi, Cappie Pondexter, and Penny Taylor Westhead created hard to beat offensive juggernaut in both the 2006 and 2007 seasons. This culminated with the 2007 title, the Merc’s first of 3 titles. This Merc team used the uptempo play to wear out opponents and post dazzling scoring numbers. After the 2007 season Westhead returned to the Men’s game for the final seasons of the Seattle Supersonics only to return to Women’s basketball at Oregon before retiring. While his time in the W was brief, it was memorable and title winning and more than deserving of being considered on of the best coaches in WNBA history. – Glenn
Region W – #15th overall seed – Corey Gaines
Corey Gaines became the head coach of the Phoenix Mercury, replacing outgoing head coach Paul Westhead in 2007. Gaines kept the same offense that Westhead employed, and in 2009, he directed the Mercury to their second WNBA title. Gaines was relived of his coaching duties during the 2013 season. He has a regular season win percentage of .471. – Rebecca
Region B – 16th overall seed – Curt Miller
Curt Miller started as an assistant coach for Cleveland State in 1991. After runs as a head coach in the NCAA, Miller became an assistant for the Los Angeles Sparks 2015. Following that season, he was named the head coach for the Connecticut Sun. Since, Miller has led them to an WNBA Finals appearance, won Coach of the Year, and has led the team to the playoffs in the last three seasons. – Tee