by Ryan Semanko

Of the 13 WNBA teams, only one of them has a coach who played in the league. That one person is Lynx coach Suzie McConnell Serio, who spent three seasons as the point guard of the Cleveland Rockers.

Playing in the league has helped a great deal in communicating with players and knowing what they are thinking about each day. "She understands what we go through on a daily basis and our mindset with the ups and downs," said guard Katie Smith. "Someone who has the experience and has been there and done that has a better view and understanding of what it's like day to day."

McConnell Serio played three seasons with the Rockers, earning WNBA Newcomer of the Year and All-WNBA First Team honors in 1998. Her 373 career assists ranks first on Cleveland's all-time list. McConnell Serio twice earned the Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award. She played alongside Lynx guard Helen Darling in Cleveland during Darling's rookie season in 2000. She also played with Lynx guard Teresa Edwards in the 1988 and 1992 Olympics.

McConnell led the Lynx to their first-ever winning season and playoff appearance in 2003. Now in her second season as coach, she has guided the Lynx to a 15-11 record and third place in the Western Conference. She has been successful for many reasons, but one key is how she quickly earned the respect of her players. Not only does she have playing experience to relate to them, but she also is a pleasant person to be around. "I think the players relate very well to her because she is a very down-to-earth person and deals with the players in a pleasant, direct manner," says assistant coach Nancy Darsch.

McConnell Serio has helped the team adapt to changes with seven new players on the roster this year. After struggles early on, the Lynx have molded together and have become a group that plays well together. "The players get along on the court and get along off the court as well," McConnell Serio said. "Chemistry, in my opinion, is one of the biggest things you can have on your team, and if you have good chemistry, you'll be more successful on the floor."

McConnell Serio's mindset is always thinking about the players and knowing how they feel each day. Having a coach with the experience of both a player and a coach gives Minnesota a sixth player on the floor each night.

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