Thibault Chat Transcript
Coach Mike Thibault, in his second year as head coach of the Connecticut Sun has coached the team twice into the Eastern Conference Finals and this year to its first WNBA Final series.
Coach set down for a live chat a few days before the Sun tip off the WNBA Finals against the Seattle Storm. Find out what's on the mind of our favorite coach in the biggest week of his WNBA career.
Connie (Rhode Island): Congratulations. You are Coach of the Year to us. What was it instintictively that you knew about Lindsay Whalen that she was the one? She reminds me of Larry Bird.
Mike Thibault: Well, I'm not sure she's like Larry Bird, because of the position she played, but I see a bit of Magic Johnson and John Stockton in Lindsay. She makes her teammates better and knows when to pass and when to score. I've proven I'm at least a decent judge of talent, so that's what I saw in Lindsay.
janice, chicago: What's this I heard on ESPN the other night that you had a little something to do with the Bulls drafting and developing Michael Jordan?
Mike Thibault: When I was with the Bulls I was an assistant coach and director of player personnell and along with Rod Thorn, I was involved in that choice. We had owners who wanted us to consider going for Sam Bowie, but Rod and I agreed that if we had to, we'd try and lock them in a closet so we could make the pick for Michael Jordan.
Laura, Wisconsin: Congradulations this year coach.My question for you is how do you think you will stop Seattle's offense in the finals because in game 3 they went on a major run that hurt Sacramento?
Mike Thibault: I think you're not going to totally stop their offense, you have to make them work harder on where they catch the ball, make their offense start further out on the perimeter, as far out as possible. We'll try and give them different looks defensively, so they don't get in a comfort zone. We'll really try and make Lauren Jackson and Sue Bird work for their points and then try and keep their other players down. Plus it helps a little bit if we're scoring down at the other end.
kip, butte, mt: Coach - What are the strengths of your team against the Storm?
Mike Thibault: I think you start with the balance on our offense. We have at least four players in double-figures in most playoff games, which makes it hard to try and stop just one player. With Lindsay's ability to drive and dish for outside shots for other players, it is tough for teams to just focus on one player on our team. We've also improved defensively, and I think Seattle will find they have to work to get good shots against us and then they will have to deal with our running game on offense.
Kate, Phoenix: Can you talk a little about what Taj and Nykesha have brought to the team this season and in the playoffs?
Mike Thibault: First of all you are talking about two veterans who have been in this league for a while and they both have a great appreciation for how far this team has come. They have put in the work to lead this team into this direction. They've done that. Taj is one of those players who studies the game, watches film and leads by example. Nykesha may not have been known as a great defensive player, but she has really improved that, her rebounds, assists and steals are way up, and she's always been a good scorer.
Shae: What do you say to all the doubters? to all those who had you picked to finish last in the standings?
Mike Thibault: The doubters don't coach our team, don't play on this team. Alot of people fall in love with teams based on name players. They don't see the heart, the will, the determination of our team. We truly play like a team, we don't rely on one person. We have to be a true team in order to succeed. After trading Shannon Johnson, people assumed we were taking a step back, but the players we have brought in have proven their worth. Beyond that, I don't worry about the doubters. I coach this team, and they don't!
greg, hartford: Do you wish the playoffs were best of five or best of seven?
Mike Thibault: I think best of five is better. In best of five, the home team gets to start at home and then if necessary the final game of the series is at home, and that's the way it should be.
Camron: How do you stop Lauren Jackson? Thanks.
Mike Thibault: I don't know that you can completely stop her, she is too talented to completely stop. You have to make her play at both ends of the court and try and make her work hard. It won't do us much good if we stop her but we don't stop anybody else. That's a trap that teams sometimes fall into. We'll need to defend Seattle as a team.
David (Farmington): Mike, your coach of the year in my book. You've done a great job both years in Connecticut. Do you have any desire to return to the men's game, ala Michael Cooper, or can we count on you staying a while?
Mike Thibault: My plan is to be here for a while, if people want me here. I've had some feelers to go back to the men's game but I've turned them down. Never say never but I have kids in school here, I love coaching in the WNBA and I see no reason to even think about leaving at this time. I'm having too much fun, despite my facial expressions during the game (Laughing).
Paula, Memphis : I know you are focused on the finals now but what are some of your hobbies?
Mike Thibault: I grew up being a musician, I like concerts, rockandroll, jazz, funk music, I like going to movies, playing golf..occasionally tennis and I enjoy going to my kids' games.
Mike Thibault: I want to thank all the WNBA fans, especially those in Connecticut. People tuning into our WNBA Finals broadcast should see a very good series and I thank everyone for supporting the WNBA and the Connecticut Sun.