MINNEAPOLIS – Minnesota’s Cheryl Reeve and Indiana Stephanie White are both coaching in the 2015 Finals. The similarities — at least in terms of resumes as head coaches — end there.
Reeve has led the Lynx to four WNBA Finals in the last five years, including winning two titles. She is a former Coach of Year winner and the all-time leader in wins in franchise history. White, on the other hand, is in the midst of her first season as head coach for the Fever. In fact, she is the first coach in WNBA history to make the Finals in her first season at the helm.
Differences aside, the respect is mutual.
“It’s not easy taking over for a legend, that’s the first thing,” said Reeve of White, who took over for the retired Lin Dunn. “So I have great respect and admiration for what she did. Moving one seat over, people don’t realize how hard that is.”
“What she’s done has been incredible,” White said of Reeve’s sustained success. “You think about the situation she came into with this team however many years ago it was, six years ago, she learned from some of the best in Detroit, but she knew exactly the way she wanted to accomplish what they’ve accomplished.”
The contemporaries, as you might expect, also praised each other for what coaches must do best — get the most out of their players.
“I didn’t know Stephanie well as I player,” said Reeve of White, who actually played four seasons for the Fever in the early 2000s. “I only know what I read, but I knew she was a quality point guard, saw the game a certain way, so that’s obviously I think really helpful to her. I also think she’s been an understudy to some really good people, obviously Lin (Dunn), and I think the biggest thing when you do that, when you take over the same team, figure out what you were good at and try to keep it. You want to make areas better, areas of improvement and so she’s done that.”
“The pieces that they have you would think ‘oh, it’s supposed to be easy’, well it’s not,” White said of Reeve and the Lynx. “Because she has to understand how to manage and how to get the best out of them and put them in best possible situations to be successful. The level she has been able to maintain with this group has been incredible.”