Washington coach Tia Jackson joked that a few more gray hairs popped up after her team’s close 62-59 win against Central Florida today. It was a game that shouldn’t have been that close given the Huskies led by 15 at halftime. But turnovers — again — dissolved the lead and if it weren’t for a miraculous, old-fashioned three-point play by senior F Sami Whitcomb, Jackson would have aged faster than President Obama.
UW returns this evening with a 3-4 record, splitting in Florida. Yet, all corners still have Jackson needing to do more to preserve her position at Washington. Athletic director Scott Woodward stated prior to the season that she’d basically be given the year. He’s supportive “but not blind.”
That stance hasn’t changed, but the landscape of what could revive Washington has. Very reliable sources said the WNBA was unable to secure new ownership for Sacramento, so that team will dissolve and there will be an expansion draft.
Without a Bay Area prospect, coach John Whisenant is out of a job. He’s interested in the Los Angeles position. The Sparks have a vacancy after Michael Cooper left for Southern California. But another solid source said it’s going to Minnesota coach Jen Gillom, who’s also acting as an assistant for the national team under Geno Auriemma.
An announcement is expected to be made as early as this week.
LA assistant coach Marianne Stanley, former Detroit coach Rick Mahorn, and former Sacramento coach Jenny Boucek were also vying for the LA job. So, why it’s going to an unproven coach — Gillom was 14-20 in her first season coach in the WNBA — versus coaches who’ve won championships raises a brow. Aside from the obvious tie between Candace Parker and the Olympic team, of course.
Neither Stanley, Whisenant nor Mahorn are expected to replace Gillom in Minnesota, so where will these top coaches land? Fans are still irked with Jackson. And athletic directors tend to follow each other’s lead, could Washington pick from the WNBA pool?
There’s more work for pro coaches on the college level, but Cooper is performing well despite injuries at USC (4-4) and Paul Westhead, the only coach to win both a WNBA and NBA championship, has Oregon (7-1) mimicking all of his former teams.
Washington is returning from the road with injuries, a theme that hurt them last season. F Lydia Young had surgery on Friday and is done for her career. F Liz lay is day-to-day with knee tendinitis. G Sara Mosiman missed today’s matchup with shin splints. F Laura McLellan will have her knee evaluated this week. And G Kristi Kingma appeared to tweak her ankle.
The injuries have to be considered when evaluating where UW is early in the season. There’s also the past two seasons. Does Woodward continue to be patient when a proven winner is available?
It will be interesting to see. The coaches are qualified and looking for security outside of the shifting WNBA, don’t expect them to be on the sideline long.