Washington’s Mike Thibault Named 2013 WNBA Coach of the Year
Third Coach of the Year Honor of Thibault’s Career
NEW YORK, Sept. 21, 2013 – Washington Mystics Head Coach/General Manager Mike Thibault, the winningest coach in WNBA history, is the recipient of the 2013 WNBA Coach of the Year Award, the WNBA announced today. Thibault, who also won the award in 2006 and 2008, received 12 votes from a national panel of 39 sportswriters and broadcasters.
Thibault’s three Coach of the Year awards are tied for the most in WNBA history with Van Chancellor, who earned the honor in each of the league’s first three seasons (1997 through 1999). Thibault also joins Dan Hughes (2001, 2007) as the only coaches to win the award with two different teams.
“I am honored to receive this award on behalf of the entire Mystics organization. These kinds of awards come only because of a group effort,” said Thibault. “I want to thank Ted Leonsis and Dr. Sheila Johnson for giving me this opportunity here in Washington. I want to thank our players for buying in to what we are trying to accomplish and working each day to improve themselves and our team, and to our loyal fans for their support. I especially want to thank my family and staff for their faith in me and their tireless work. Our coaches, training staff, and support staff have been terrific from day one and have been the major reason we have been able to get back on the right track here. I am looking forward to continued improvement in our quest to become a model organization and team.”
In his first season at the helm in Washington, Thibault returned the Mystics to the playoffs for the first time since 2010, guiding the club to a 17-17 record and the third seed in the Eastern Conference. Thibault led a 12-game turnaround from a year ago when the Mystics finished 5-29. Just one year prior to that, Washington posted a 6-28 mark.
Thibault achieved a milestone on July 6, when the Mystics defeated the visiting Seattle Storm, 62-59. The win was the 212th regular-season victory for Thibault and moved him ahead of Chancellor into the top spot on the WNBA’s all-time wins list.
Under Thibault, the revamped Washington roster features seven players who were not with the team in 2012, led by guard Ivory Latta, who signed with the Mystics as an unrestricted free agent this past winter and went on to be selected to the Eastern Conference All-Star squad. Thibault also orchestrated a trade that brought center Kia Vaughn to Washington, and added four rookies to the roster. Three of those rookies – Tayler Hill, Emma Meesseman, and Tierra Ruffin-Pratt – made Washington the only team with three players receiving votes toward the All-Rookie Team.
Prior to joining the Mystics, Thibault spent 10 seasons (2003 through 2012) as head coach of the WNBA’s Connecticut Sun, leading that club to eight playoff appearances and two WNBA Finals. During his tenure with the Sun, Thibault compiled a 206-134 (.605) record and achieved several other milestones, including becoming the second coach in WNBA history to reach 200 regular-season victories, the third-fastest coach in league history to compile 100 wins (doing so in 159 games), and the fourth WNBA head coach to work at least 300 regular-season games.
In addition to his WNBA coaching duties, Thibault served as an assistant to Head Coach Anne Donovan on the U.S. Women’s National Team that won a gold medal during the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Prior to joining the Sun in 2003, Thibault spent numerous years in various roles with NBA teams. He first joined the NBA in 1978 as a scout for the Los Angeles Lakers and was quickly promoted to director of scouting and assistant coach in 1980. During his tenure with the Lakers, the team won two NBA championships. From 1982-86, he served as the director of scouting for the Chicago Bulls, when that organization selected Michael Jordan, Charles Oakley, and John Paxson. Thibault went on to serve as an assistant coach with the Milwaukee Bucks and also as a scout for the Atlanta Hawks and the New York Knicks.
This is the second Coach of the Year honor for the Washington Mystics franchise. In 2002, then head coach Marianne Stanley was the recipient of the league’s top coaching honor.