New York Liberty Hire Sandy Brondello as Head Coach
The New York Liberty have hired former WNBA player Sandy Brondello to be their new head coach, following the departure of Walt Hopkins after two seasons. Previously, Brondello served as head coach of the Phoenix Mercury for eight seasons. She was quickly picked up by The Liberty when her contract was not renewed.
Brondello has 17 years of coaching experience and is the current head coach of the Australian women’s national basketball team. She was awarded WNBA Coach of the Year in 2014. During that same year, she led the Phoenix Mercury to become champions by sweeping the Chicago Sky. As a player, Brondello started her WNBA career with Detroit Shock in 1998 and played in the inaugural WNBA All-Star Game the next year.
The Liberty introduced Brondello in a press conference on Friday, where she discussed the opportunity to build around a young team. “It’s exciting, it’s a new team, it’s a very talented team and I know we will be a better team in 2022,” she told reporters.
Alongside Brondello was general manager Jonathan Kolb and one of the owners of the Liberty, Clara Wu Tsai. This was the first time that one of the Tsai’s was available to speak with the WNBA media. Kolb spoke very briefly about getting Brondello to come coach the New York Liberty. He indicated that he was able to have great communication with Brondello and that they were aligned with the same values. He also said it was an exciting day for New York and that he welcomes Brondello and her family to the city.
Wu Tsai said that Brondello was the right candidate for the team. “We did a thorough search, a couple of months that we spent identifying the right candidate. We’re really thrilled that Sandy is joining the team. As we know, she brings a wealth of experience and she’s a known culture setter.”
Brondello commented on the team’s ownership, saying that she’s impressed by them. “The New York Liberty is an organization I’ve admired from afar for so many years. I’ve been particularly impressed with the new ownership.”
She spoke very briefly about her plans for the Liberty. “I think we can score more points to be honest. Hopefully get out and run a bit quicker, get some easy baskets in transition. Also being healthy. [The Phoenix Mercury] were very lucky to escape with a win in the WNBA Playoffs. The last two games, the Liberty were tough.”
In regards to team defense, Brondello said she will invest in the players and plans to build up those relationships. “I’m not a coach that comes in and says, ‘you have to play like this.’ I’m adaptable. But defensively, that’s hard work. That’s where culture comes in.”
She also mentioned that being an ex-WNBA player herself, she can relate to the players very well. “I was a guard. I played at a high level for a long time. That’s part of the sharing: my experience will help them. There’s times, different situations—how do they handle it? Guess what? I’ve been through it.”
Both Kolb and Brondello talked about winning championships and how the Liberty can eventually win one. “You look at all the best teams, the ones that have won championships, and you have to have really good players,” Brondello said. “But then you have to have that supporting role cast behind it. It’s more about clarification of their roles.”
Kolb agreed and said “Sandy said it best. We have to enjoy this journey and build this the right way. If we say, ‘It’s the trophy or else,’ that’s not going to materialize. We have a lot of work to do.”
Brondello praised the rise of women’s coaches in the WNBA. “It means a lot. We’re all coaches. We’re not female coaches, we’re not male coaches, we’re basketball coaches. Still, it’s good to see women getting those opportunities. Former players getting those opportunities.”
The 2022 season will be a fresh start for both Brondello and the Liberty. We’ll see what they can accomplish starting in May.