WNBA Coach of Year Curt Miller leaves Sun for Sparks

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Two-time WNBA Coach of the Year Curt Miller is the new coach of the Los Angeles Sparks after seven seasons with the Connecticut Sun, the team said Friday.

Miller, also the general manager for the past six years, led the Sun to two trips to the WNBA finals, including this year when they lost to the Las Vegas Aces in four games in the best-of-five series. He was an assistant for the Sparks in 2015 before going to Connecticut.

“It was an exciting time, such fond memories of my 2015 experience,” Miller said. “You still, to this day, pinch yourself that I walked into the league from the collegiate game and walked into an opportunity to work with Brian Agler and learn from him and be mentored by him.”

Miller — the 2019 and 2021 WNBA Coach of the Year — replaces Derek Fisher, who was fired as coach and general manager after a 5-7 start to the latest season. The Sparks have missed the playoffs the past two seasons.

“Curt brings extensive experience as a WNBA head coach, where he has won at a historic pace and helped develop several All-WNBA and MVP-level players,” Sparks managing partner Eric Holoman said in a statement. “His teams play with an intensity and attention to detail our players will embrace, and a passion our fans will appreciate.”

Los Angeles, which is the last WNBA franchise to win back-to-back titles, doing so in 2001 and 2002, hadn’t missed the playoffs in consecutive seasons since 1997-98.

Miller is excited to help rebuild this original franchise.

“I view myself as a program builder. It energizes me and motivates me and the challenges that come with that,” he said. “LA is in this retool era. While it’s scary in some ways, it is really a challenge that I love to take on throughout my career.”

Miller has a WNBA regular-season record of 140-86 and is the fifth-winningest coach in league history with a 61.9% percentage. Before going to the WNBA, he coached Bowling Green for 11 seasons (2001-12) and Indiana for two (2012-14) with a collegiate mark of 290-124.

He is one of four coaches to have won at least 250 collegiate and 100 WNBA games. The others are Van Chancellor, Lin Dunn and Marynell Meadors.

Even though Miller did double duty in Connecticut, the Sparks plan to also hire a general manager during the offseason.

“I was in conversation with them from the beginning only for a head coaching position,” Miller said. “To have that sole focus that I can just coach the team as we have this new beginning and put this new era out excites me.”

___

AP sports: https://apnews.com/hub/sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports