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Agler Appreciates Chance to Continue Building Storm

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Kevin Pelton, stormbasketball.com | September 14, 2009
Having signed All-Star point guard Sue Bird to a multi-year extension last week, the Seattle Storm took care of another important piece of business before the offseason on Monday by announcing a new two-year contract for Head Coach and Director of Player Personnel Brian Agler. Agler is now under contract through 2011, with an option for a third year.

"I appreciate the opportunity," Agler said by phone from Los Angeles after the team practiced Monday, "and just appreciate the players really buying in to what we're trying to do and having the ability to adapt and apply things to the floor.


"I appreciate the opportunity and just appreciate the players really buying in to what we're trying to do ."
Terrence Vaccaro/NBAE/Getty Images
"I think we've had a considerable amount of success in the regular season - in fact, I think we've probably won more games the last two years than any other team in the league. That's a tribute to our players."

The Storm made Agler the third head coach in franchise history in January 2008. When he was introduced, Agler announced his intention to improve the Storm's defense and get more out of the talent on the roster. Indeed, the team has finished as the league's stingiest defense in points allowed per game each of the last two seasons and has developed younger starters to complement All-Stars Bird, Swin Cash (acquired by Agler shortly after taking over) and Lauren Jackson.

"We put a lot of priority on our defense, and I think we've established an environment here that values that," said Agler. "That's a good thing. That's sort of our staple. I like that. I like how some of the younger players started to flourish. Tanisha (Wright) and Camille (Little), I like how they've come into their own and really are entrenched in the starting group."

Players have enjoyed the responsibility Agler gives them with his offense, which relies more on reading the defense than predetermined plays. He focused on getting more out of Bird after taking over, and she has responded the last two seasons by finishing third in MVP voting in 2008 and leading the league in assists this year.

"He's definitely helped me," Bird said. "I think he really likes to give his players the freedom to play. One of the pieces of advice he always gives is to play with an open mind, and every time we go out there we truly do that. Everything we run is designed to let us play. I think when you have players as talented as our team is, it gives you a lot of freedom to do that, to play to your strengths. I think he's given me those opportunities."

The bottom-line results have been consecutive 20-win seasons for the Storm, the only team in the WNBA which can make that claim. Over Agler's two seasons at the helm, the Storm has more regular-season wins than any other team in the league (see chart). Yet he quickly transitions a question about his accomplishments to date into a discussion of areas where the Storm can improve.

LAST TWO SEASONS
Team Wins
Seattle 42
Detroit 40
Indiana 39
Phoenix 39
San Antonio 39
"I still think we can get better," Agler said. "I think we can get better with our roster. I think we can get better with the improvement of the people in our program right now. I think if we stay healthy, we can be extremely competitive and have a high level of success."

Now that his future with the Storm is secure and Bird is locked up, Agler can look ahead and envision the possibilities for the Storm.

"I'm looking forward to keeping building this team," he said. "I'd like to see Sue and Lauren get a chance to play for another championship. I think we've got a good young nucleus of people. I'm proud of what they're able to do on the floor and just looking forward to down the road. First things first - we want to do well right now too."