WNBA Champions promote head assistant, fastbreak expert

Mercury Name Corey Gaines Head Coach

Posted: Nov. 7, 2007

A 20-year veteran of fastbreak basketball on the collegiate, NBA and international levels, Corey Gaines today was named the seventh head coach of the Phoenix Mercury. Gaines served as the team’s lead assistant coach the last two seasons, including the 2007 WNBA Championship campaign.

"We are of the opinion that stability wins championships," said Mercury General Manager Ann Meyers Drysdale. "Hiring Corey is another step toward the long-term success of this franchise. Our players and staff trust his knowledge of the game and our personnel, and have every confidence in his abilities to reach the high bar we set this past season."

Gaines garners a promotion to the head spot after serving under mentor and former head coach Paul Westhead for two seasons as the top assistant in charge of an offense that set WNBA records for scoring average in both 2006 (87.1) and 2007 (89.0), and averaged an unprecedented 95.8 points per playoff game en route to the franchise’s first world championship. Gaines was on the bench the last two seasons as Phoenix posted consecutive winning records for the first time since its first two seasons and won a franchise-record 23 games in 2007.

"I am excited about this opportunity," said Gaines. "I have enjoyed my time with this team and am ready for the challenge that this presents. I am ready to get started defending the title we worked so hard to earn last season."

The Los Angeles native spent his first three collegiate seasons at UCLA alongside Reggie Miller before transferring to Loyola Marymount in 1986 after his junior season to play for Westhead. Gaines learned the fastbreak offense under the “Guru of Go” during the 1986-87 season while redshirting at LMU before becoming the starting point guard the following season and helping to engineer a 26-game win streak as a teammate of Bo Kimble and Hank Gathers.

Originally selected by the Seattle Supersonics in the third round (65th overall) of the 1988 NBA Draft, Gaines spent five seasons with five different NBA teams, earning a trip to the 1994 NBA Finals with the New York Knicks. Gaines played 12 years internationally, including a stint as the starting point guard with Scavalini in Italy playing against a Benetton team which was coached at the time by current Phoenix Suns Head Coach Mike D’Antoni.

The well-traveled 42-year-old re-joined Westhead in the ABA with the Long Beach Jam in 2003, serving as a player and an assistant coach before taking over as head coach and leading the team to a championship. Gaines coached a squad with six current and former NBA players including Matt Barnes (Golden State Warriors), Matt Carroll (Charlotte Bobcats), Yuta Tabuse and Dennis Rodman.

Tickets to watch the Mercury defend their crown during the 2008 regular season are available on phoenixmercury.com and by calling (602) 252-WNBA.