Thibault Goes for History

Mike Thibault will attempt to become the winningest coach in WNBA history on Saturday

A good coach can take a team a long way. A great coach can do so much more.

The Washington Mystics have not just a great coach, but now have one on the verge of becoming the winningest coach in WNBA history.

Mike Thibault coached the Mystics to a crushing 84-61 victory over the Tulsa Shock on Sunday and in doing so tied Van Chancellor’s WNBA win record of 211 career victories. It was the Mystics’ largest margin of victory in almost three years. Thibault will have the opportunity to break the record on Saturday July 6, in Washington’s game against the Seattle Storm (4-6) on July 6th at Verizon Center.

“That’s a major accomplishment,” forward Monique Currie said. “I’m very excited and happy for him. He’s definitely one of the best coaches, if not the best coach, in the league and I’m honored to be able to play with him and grow as a player in his system.

“I’m sure he’s going to surpass that record a lot in the years to come, but I feel lucky being a part of him achieving that goal.”

Thibault’s win record first began with the Connecticut Sun in 2003. After several years as an assistant coach in the NBA for the Lakers, Bulls, Hawks, Knicks, SuperSonics, and Bucks he turned to the WNBA. Thibault’s first major highlight with the Sun came in 2006 when he won WNBA Coach of the Year after coaching Connecticut to the Eastern Conference finals and finishing first in the East. He eventually won coach of the year honors again in 2008.

2008 continued to be a significant year for Thibault who also served as an assistant coach on the USA Olympic Women’s Basketball Team in Beijing that went on to win the Gold.

During Thibault’s 10-year career with the Sun, he made the playoffs eight times, finished first in the East four times, and made it to the WNBA finals twice. The Sun were also one of two teams to have six consecutive winning seasons and posted a consecutive 26-8 record between the 2005 and 2006 seasons, which still remains the best regular season result for an Eastern Conference team.

After the 2012 season, Thibault put down the clipboard in Connecticut and moved to the nation’s capital where on December 8, 2012 he was introduced as the new Head Coach and General Manager for the Washington Mystics.

Despite it being less than three months into the season, Thibault has already left his mark on this Mystics team. After winning only five games all of last season, Washington currently posts a 5-6 record — including a 4-1 start.

“Coach is the guy,” point guard Ivory Latta said. “I’m an extension of him right there on the court and I’m so happy for him. It’s definitely a great accomplishment.

“Van Chancellor is like one of the all time coach here, but you know what? We’ve got one right here in our locker room as well, so we’re just going to continue to get more wins for the organization, for him, for us, for everybody and we’re just going to continue to keep going.”

Latta, who played for the Tulsa Shock last season, was one of the off-season gems that Thibault brought to Washington. She currently leads the team in both points (15.8) and assists (4.1) per game.

Meanwhile, forward Crystal Langhorne, who has been a cornerstone in the Mystics organization for her entire six-year career, has already built a relationship with her new coach and has seen it positively influence her game.

“I’m honored to play for him,” Langhorne said. “He’s such a great coach and its great to be apart of history. It means a lot.”

Watch Coach Thibault attempt history on Saturday night at 7pm on Monumental Network*

*If within 75 miles of DC