I don’t know what the next step will be for Mike Thibault, the former coach of the WNBA’s Connecticut Sun.
“I’ve got some time to think about it,” he said last night at the XL Center.
But I do know two things about him and his situation..
The first is, the media that had the pleasure of covering him during his 10 seasons as Sun coach grew to like him as much as a person as it learned to admire what he has contributed to basketball on many different levels. How many times does some dopey basketball writer like me get to meet someone who has been an NBA assistant, a CBA head coach, an Olympic assistant gold medal winning coach and a WNBA 200-win coach? Frankly, I miss him already. He put the Sun into the summer for me and all those who were around him.
Secondly, if the WNBA’s Washington Mystics, a truly sad franchise, don’t do whatever it takes to hire Thiabult as its Coach/GM then may the franchise live forever in mediocrity. Its choices for head coaches in the past have been truly quizzical – or have we forgotten the Tree Rollins era.
With Bill Laimbeer now in New York, Lin Dunn coaching the world champs in Indiana, the Mystics better get their act together.
I had the chance to say hello to Coach Thibault Monday at the UConn-Maryland game. He was there scouting, an indication to me that he intends to stay close to the women’s game, if not intimately involved.
He loves UConn senior guard Kelly Faris:
“She is terrific, terrific player,” Thibault said. “She is what you want in a college player because you can use her in so many different spots. She is strong enough and tough enough to defend power forwards. She is such a great defender who is really improving offensively. She has great instincts and is a great athlete.
“I don’t know right now how her talent will translate to the next level right now. She has a great chance [to succeed] and someone will give her the chance [in the WNBA]. The thing is, at Kelly’s position, you still need to knock down outside shots on a regular basis, unless you have a team like Atlanta, where Arminitie Price [who Faris reminds him of] fits so well into. She is a good athlete, does everything so well, but needs to be around teammates who can give her the freedom to do things on the court [that she does well].
“If Kelly keeps improving, there will not be a question about her. She is getting better at knocking down outside shots and even looking for them, which I think she stopped doing for a while last season.
“But I tell you this, if you had to pick a kid to represent your program, she is a pretty good one.”
As for freshman phenom Brenna Stewart:
“I hate to compare women to the men’s game, but she reminds me of Kevin Love [of the NBA's Minnesota Timberwolves]. She is an athletic power forward who can step outside and make shots, but also can pass and runs very well. You need not label Breanna in terms of her position. She looks comfortable playing any of the three post positions and is obviously a great athlete with long arms who can finish plays with either hand.
“I don’t see any freshman in the nation better than she is, by a lot. And there probably aren’t many sophomores or juniors [better than Stewart], either.”