Jennifer Gillom Promoted to Head Coach
Lynxbasketball.com editor/writer Jonah Ballow sat down with the new head coach of the Minnesota Lynx on Wednesday morning. Jennifer Gillom discussed her plans for the transition period in the next three days leading up to the season opener against Chicago on Saturday night at the Target Center. The former member of the Phoenix Mercury also explained the importance of her experience in the WNBA, overseas, and two years as an assistant coach for Minnesota. While the situation is not ideal, Gillom displayed extreme confidence and promised fans the Lynx will be prepared for the 2009 season.
Jonah Ballow with Jennifer Gillom
Jennifer Gillom Press Conference
The Minnesota Lynx today announced that Don Zierden has resigned as head coach to join Flip Saunders' staff with the NBA's Washington Wizards. Lynx assistant coach and women's basketball great Jennifer Gillom has been promoted to head coach, becoming the sixth head coach in team history.
“While we're disappointed to see Don leave, we're very excited about the future of this team with Jen Gillom at the helm," said Lynx Executive Vice President Roger Griffith. "Jen is one of the greatest players in the history of women’s basketball and brings 17 years of experience, both as a player and coach. She's learned from some of the all-time greatest coaches in the women's game, and we're confident that she will be a great leader. She was instrumental in the development of Nicky Anosike and Charde Houston last season, two rookies who excelled under the tutelage of Jen. Although the timing of Don's departure is unfortunate, having someone ready to step in with Jen's knowledge, talent, and reputation is a great asset to us. Our players have a huge amount of respect for Jen and we're all very excited about the prospects for the 2009 season. We thank Don for his two-plus years with us and wish him all the best in Washington."
"I want to thank Don for the time and effort he put in to prepare me for this tremendous opportunity — I've learned so much from him," said Gillom. "I also want to thank Glen Taylor and Roger Griffith for their steadfast commitment and belief in my coaching abilities. I've learned under some of the legends of the women's game: Kay Yow, Van Chancellor, Cheryl Miller, Nancy Lieberman, Katrina McClain… They've all prepared me to become a head coach in the WNBA. It's always been my goal to be a head coach in the WNBA and to achieve that in Minnesota is a dream come true. We have so much talent here and I truly believe the sky is the limit for this team."
Gillom joined the Lynx as an assistant coach on Zierden's staff in 2008 after an extremely distinguished professional career. With the Lynx, Gillom was responsible for assisting with the team’s scouting efforts, talent evaluation, and player development with a focus on the forwards and centers. Under Gillom's tutelage, center Nicky Anosike earned WNBA All-Rookie Team honors. Additionally, forward Charde Houston averaged 8.8 ppg in 2008, the highest scoring average ever by a third round or later pick in their rookie season in WNBA history. In recognition of her storied career in women's basketball, Gillom will be one of six inductees into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame on June 13, 2009, her 45th birthday.
Gillom, who was one of the first players signed by the WNBA, played seven seasons in the league (1997 - 2003), including six with the Phoenix Mercury. She led the Mercury to three playoff berths (1997, 1998, 2000), where they advanced to the 1998 WNBA Finals. After playing her final season with the Los Angeles Sparks, Gillom retired from the WNBA with career averages of 13.4 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. Her best season in the WNBA came with the Mercury in 1998, where she closed out the season with career-high averages of 20.8 points and 7.3 rebounds per game.
The WNBA’s 2002 Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award recipient, Gillom was selected to the 1999 All-Star team and was also named to the 1997 All-WNBA First Team. She was named the 1985 USA Basketball Female Athlete of the Year. Gillom collected a total of six gold medals in international competition, including the gold at the 1988 Olympics. Gillom began her coaching career in 2004 with the girl's basketball team at Xavier College Preparatory, a private high school in Phoenix, Ariz. During her five years as head coach, Gillom has compiled a 120-25 record (.828 winning percentage).
"The Minnesota Lynx hit a grand slam, out-of-the-park homerun with the hiring of Jen Gillom to be their head coach," said Van Chancellor, four-time WNBA Champion head coach with the Houston Comets and current LSU Women's Basketball head coach. "Jen Gillom does a tremendous job of relating to the players and everywhere she's been has prepared her for this. She knows what it takes to win a championship at this level and Minnesota fans can expect great things in 2009 and beyond."
"We'll miss Coach Z, but Coach Jen will step right in and be a successful head coach in this league," said Lynx second-year center Nicky Anosike. "Coach Jen has taught me so much. I owe her a lot of credit for my successes in the league. She knows how to lead and she's the perfect person to take over."
In two seasons at the helm, Zierden guided the Lynx to a 26-42 (.382) regular-season record, including a 16-18 record in 2008. The Minneapolis native returns to the NBA after stints as an assistant coach with the Minnesota Timberwolves (2000-2005) and Detroit Pistons (2005-2007).
"I am thankful to the Minnesota Lynx organization and to Glen Taylor for giving me the opportunity to return to my home state and become a head coach in the WNBA," said Zierden. "It was a very difficult decision to leave, but I felt it was the right decision for my family and me. I have no doubt in my mind that Jen is ready to step in and take this team to the next level. Much of our turnaround last season can be attributed to the work that Jen did with our post players. She is one of the hardest workers I've ever been around and I expect her to do great things with this team. Jen is a pioneer of women's basketball and will be a great ambassador to the Upper Midwest as head coach of the Lynx."
The Minnesota Lynx open their 11th year of basketball in the Twin Cities on June 6, 2009 vs. the Chicago Sky at Target Center. Season and group tickets for the 2009 season are now on sale, starting at just $10 per game. For information on ticket packages, call 612-673-8400, e-mail , or visit the Lynx Web site.
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