Bill Laimbeer

Laimbeer wins WNBA coach of the year for second time

Leave a comment

Bill Laimbeer was quick to deflect his success this season as the WNBA coach of the year to his staff and players.

“It really is the coaching staff of the year,” the New York Liberty coach said Thursday night. “That’s what I told the players. My name happens to be the name stuck up on it, but they are the reason I won. We have an unbelievable staff.”

It’s the second time that Laimbeer was honored as the league’s top coach, also winning it when he was in charge of Detroit in 2003. Laimbeer is the fourth coach to win the award at least twice. Van Chancellor won it in the league’s first three years. Mike Thibault was also honored three times and Dan Hughes twice.

The Liberty’s coach received 23 votes from a national panel of 39 writers and broadcasters. Indiana coach Stephanie White finished second with seven votes and Tulsa’s Fred Williams was third with six.

Laimbeer helped guide New York to a team-record 23 wins and the No. 1 overall seed in the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. The award capped off an interesting year for Laimbeer. He parted ways with New York last October when the team missed the playoffs for the second straight year, but the Liberty brought him back in January.

“I take pride in the fact that I knew the direction we had to go and what the team had to look like and we were able to put that together,” he said. “We got here fast and we didn’t think we’d be here this fast. I see a lot of similarities between this team and the one that won the title in Detroit in 2003.”

The Liberty have built a solid team to make a run not only now, but also for the future, acquiring Epiphanny Prince in the offseason as well as drafting stellar rookies Brittany Boyd and Kiah Stokes.

“We made a lot of changes and we built a team that we thought would be good today and in the future,” Laimbeer said. “The fans will be able to enjoy this team for a long time.


East is coming down to the wire in WNBA

Getty Images
Leave a comment

NEW YORK (AP) There’s one week left in the regular season and the only thing decided in the Eastern Conference is that New York is the top seed.

The Liberty clinched the No. 1 spot with a victory over Minnesota on Sunday and now need just one more victory or loss by Minnesota to secure home-court throughout the playoffs. New York (22-9) has matched the franchise record for victories set in 2010.

“It was important for us to clinch the Eastern Conference home-court advantage tonight. That was goal number one,” Liberty coach Bill Laimbeer said. “Goal number two, obviously, both teams eyeballed each other tonight as a possible overall league-best record.”

Chicago sits in second, 1 1/2 games in front of Indiana. The Sky already clinched the second winning season in franchise history and will most likely face the Fever in the opening round of the playoffs. Indiana has a two-game lead on fourth-place Washington.

The Mystics still haven’t clinched a playoff berth but can do so with one more victory or a loss by Atlanta. Washington lost to the Dream on Sunday and the two teams meet again next Sunday to close out the regular season.

While the seeding in the East is still a work in progress, the West is pretty much set barring something crazy happening this week. Minnesota has a two-game lead on Phoenix. Tulsa sits in third and Los Angeles clinched the final spot in the West on Sunday and has secured the fourth seed. The Sparks can still move up to third if they win their remaining two games and the Shock drop all three of theirs.

STAT OF THE WEEK: It was a pretty good week for Elena Delle Donne. She scored the 1,500th point of her career Sunday and was honored with the Dawn Staley Community Leadership Award.

“That really means so much to me,” said Delle Donne, who turned 26 on Saturday. “Growing up, my parents always raised me to give back and I always knew if I ever got a spotlight I was going to do something far bigger than myself and give back. So an award like that really means the most to me.”

FOND FAREWELL: Sophia Young-Malcolm played the final home game of her career Saturday. The nine-year veteran announced her retirement earlier this week.

“I don’t necessarily think that it has hit me yet,” she said after the 82-52 loss to Phoenix on Saturday. “I feel like it is just another game, and maybe after this season is over that is when it is going to hit me, when I realize it. We keep saying it, but it hasn’t necessarily hit yet. It doesn’t feel like it is the last game that I am going to be playing at home, but it has been great. Obviously I am sad that we lost by so much, but it has been great.”

Young-Malcolm scored eight points in the loss. San Antonio’s final two games are on the road.

GAME OF THE WEEK: Mercury at Shock, Sunday. Tulsa will play its final regular season game in Oklahoma when the Shock host Phoenix. There’s a good chance that these two teams will meet in the postseason in the first round.