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    Friday, February 03, 2023

    Sun make it official, hire Stephanie White as head coach

    The Connecticut Sun officially announced the hiring of Stephanie White as the franchise’s new head coach on Monday. White, who most recently served as head coach of Vanderbilt, replaces Curt Miller, who left to become head coach of the Los Angeles Sparks. (AP Photo/Sean Rayford, File)

    Stephanie White was an assistant coach for the Indiana Fever when it pulled off the biggest upset in WNBA Finals history, knocking off the then-defending champion Minnesota Lynx in 2012.

    Indiana won the title by using its toughness and maximum effort to overcome a key injury to starter Katie Douglas, as well as Minnesota’s star-studded lineup, featuring four members of that year’s gold medal-winning Team USA basketball team.

    White sees those same qualities in the Connecticut Sun.

    “That’s one thing that intrigues me about Connecticut, too, is it reminds me a little bit of that Indiana team,” said White, who was officially named as the Sun’s new head coach on Monday. “(There are) a lot of players who are just gritty, tough and find a way to get it done, just that overall mentality. And I love it.”

    White is Connecticut’s fourth head coach since it relocated from Orlando to Mohegan Sun in 2003 and replaces one of its most successful leaders, Curt Miller. Miller left the team last month to take the same job with the Los Angeles Sparks.

    Miller had a 140-86 regular season record from 2016-22 with the Sun qualifying for the playoffs the past six seasons. That included reaching the WNBA Finals in 2019 and 2022. He was a two-time WNBA Coach of the Year winner (2017, 2021) and was named the 2017 Executive of the Year after taking on the role of general manager in 2017.

    "Stephanie White is the right coach at the right time for our organization,” Sun president Jen Rizzotti said. “She’s a proven winner that understands the high expectations we have within the Connecticut Sun organization and our fan base. She has been a part of championships as both a player and a coach, and that is the mentality I was looking to add.

    “I'm excited for our players who will be under her guidance, and I look forward to supporting and welcoming her back to the WNBA."

    It’s a return to the WNBA for White, who was a former player, assistant and head coach in the league. She became an Indiana assistant under former head coach and mentor Lin Dunn in 2011 and was elevated to associate head coach in 2014.

    White took over as the Fever’s head coach in 2015 and they reached the WNBA Finals where they lost to Minnesota in a best-of-five series, 3-2. She coached one more season and had a 37-31 regular season record.

    White’s last head coaching job was at Vanderbilt from 2016-21. She had a 46-84 record there and was dismissed after the pandemic shortened 2020-21 season. She has been broadcasting women’s basketball games for ESPN, FOX Sports and the Big 10 Network but has wanted to get back into coaching. She will continue her TV work during the WNBA offseason.

    “I missed the game. I missed the game at the highest level,” White said. “Covering the WNBA and continuing to watch the playoffs, there’s just something about being in the game and being in situations that I was watching on my couch; just imagining what I would do in these end of game situations. There were so many of them in the (2022) playoffs and so many great players making plays.

    “I miss being in the gym and practice. I just love coaching, you know? It’s in your DNA when it’s what you do. I certainly love it.”

    n.griffen@theday.com

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