November 14, 2022
Connecticut Sun set to hire Stephanie White as new head coach
White led the Fever to the WNBA Finals in 2015 as a first-year coach
The Connecticut Sun are set to hire Stephanie White to be their fourth head coach in franchise history, according to a report from M.A. Voepel of ESPN.
White takes over one of the league’s best and most consistent teams after former head coach and general manager Curt Miller left the team on October 21st for the vacant head coach position with the Los Angeles Sparks.
White returns to the WNBA sidelines after a seven-year absence. She’s spent the last year as an analyst for ESPN and the Big Ten Network since leaving the college coaching ranks after the 2021 season.
White would be the Sun’s first head coach with WNBA playing experience and the sixth current head coach in the league who is also a former player. She’s experienced success at nearly every level of her basketball career, including multiple National Player of the Year titles in high school, along with a Wade Trophy and NCAA Championship during her senior year at Purdue in 1999. She won a WNBA championship as part of the Indiana Fever’s staff in 2012.
After playing five seasons in the WNBA for the Charlotte Sting and Indiana Fever, White served as an assistant coach for Ball State, Kansas State, Toledo, and the Chicago Sky before joining Lin Dunn’s staff on the Indiana Fever in 2011.
The Fever tapped White to take over as head coach in 2015 after Dunn retired. White took the team to the WNBA Finals in her first season after posting a 20-14 record, but ultimately fell just short in five games to the Minnesota Lynx.
White accepted the head women’s basketball coaching position at Vanderbilt before the 2016 WNBA season, but led the Fever to a 17-17 regular season record and the team’s last playoff appearance before stepping down.
Dunn, who held her own coaching search this season as the interim general manager for the Fever, hired former Fever assistant Christie Sides for the job, but reportedly considered a pool of three other candidates, which didn’t include White.
At Vanderbilt, White had strong recruiting classes during her five-year tenure, but never found consistent success and experienced roster instability with top players leaving the program.
She compiled an overall record of 46-83 over five seasons and a 13-54 record in SEC play. White’s teams never won an SEC tournament game and never finished higher than 12th in the 14-team conference’s standings. Vanderbilt parted ways with White in April 2021.
White now finds herself in a similar position as she did in 2015, inheriting a loaded roster headlined by a former MVP with championship experience. There will certainly be lofty expectations for White as she takes over in Uncasville.
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Connecticut Sun President Jen Rizzotti has made it clear that she is looking for someone who will continue to build upon the Sun’s success rather than rebuild, and for good reason. The Sun made the semifinals the last four seasons with two Finals appearances. The Sun return their core of Jonquel Jones, Alyssa Thomas, DeWanna Bonner and Jasmine Thomas, who missed the majority of the team’s championship run last season because of injury.
The team, players included, have been vocal about its championship window dwindling over the last few seasons. Reigning Sixth Player of the Year and two-time All-Star Bri Jones and guard Courtney Williams will be free agents in January and leave question marks on how their impact will be replaced, if at all, while starters Jonquel Jones, Bonner, and Jasmine Thomas all will be on the final year of their contracts in 2023.
White shouldn’t be the only new face in the Sun front office for long. The organization is still without a GM, which Rizzotti has indicated is a role that will be separate from the head coaching position, unlike Miller’s former dual role with the team.
While all WNBA head coaching vacancies will be full after the organization officially introduces White, the Los Angeles Sparks also have a general manager position currently open. That, along with WNBA free agency slated to start in less than two months, could entice the Sun to make a move sooner rather than later. It would also give Rizzotti, White, and the new general manager time to figure out a path forward for a new era of Connecticut Sun basketball, one that the organization hopes will lead to its first-ever WNBA Championship.