Connecticut Signs Thibault To Contract Extension

UNCASVILLE, Conn. (May 13, 2010) – Connecticut Sun Vice President and General Manager Chris Sienko announced today that coach Mike Thibault has received a two-year contract extension through the 2012 season with a team option for a third year.

As per team policy, terms were not released.

“When we hired Mike eight years ago, we had one goal in mind, to win a championship,” Sienko said Thursday. “We still believe Mike is the best person to make that happen.”

The Sun underwent a major overhaul this past offseason, retaining just five players from the 2009 roster. All Star point guard Lindsay Whalen was traded to Minnesota in a deal that brought No. 1 draft pick Tina Charles and former UConn point guard Renee Montgomery to Connecticut. The Sun also signed veteran free agent Kara Lawson, and picked up DeMya Walker in a dispersal draft for the Sacramento Monarchs. The addition of rookies Kelsey Griffin and Allison Hightower completed the makeover.

"I have enjoyed every part of being here, every part of this job,” said Thibault, a two-time WNBA Coach of the Year. “I look forward to going to work every day. I like my team and I like the direction we are headed. There's a lot that goes in to building a winning organization, and I think we've done a lot of great things to give us a bright future. I’m looking forward to being the coach of this group."

Thibault is the only coach in Connecticut Sun history, taking over in 2003, when the franchise relocated from Orlando. During his tenure, the Sun have compiled a 143-95 regular season record with six playoff appearances, four trips to the Eastern Conference Finals and consecutive runs to the WNBA Finals in 2004 and 2005.

“Mike brings a great deal to our organization, and has become very respected in women’s professional basketball,” Sienko said. “His experience with the National Team, and also in the NBA and the CBA, have been a big key to his success with the Sun. He has shown the ability to teach athletes, and to create a winning attitude.”

Thibault brought a distinguished resume to the Sun that included extensive experience at every level. He was an assistant with the NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers in 1980, and he also won a CBA title with the Omaha Racers. He has been an assistant with the Milwaukee Bucks, Seattle Sonics and the Chicago Bulls, and was an assistant coach on the United States Women’s National Team that won a gold medal at the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing, China.

Currently the longest-serving coach in the league, Thibault was the third fastest in WNBA history to reach 100 wins. His .601 winning percentage is first among active coaches. During his tenure, the franchise has become recognized as one of the most successful in the league, both on and off the court.

"None of this would be possible without the Mohegan Tribe,” Thibault said. “They took the chance to purchase this team. And (Sun CEO) Mitchell Etess and Chris Sienko have done everything necessary to make this a success."