UNCASVILLE, Conn., Nov. 20 – In eight of the last 10 years, the Connecticut Sun were in the WNBA playoffs. They played in the Eastern Conference finals five times. They played in the WNBA finals twice. But they have yet to bring home a WNBA championship.
On Tuesday, the Sun fired the one man who has led the team since it came to Connecticut from Orlando in 2003 – Mike Thibault. The Sun also fired Thibault’s assistant coaches Bernadette Mattox and Scott Hawk.
“The decision to let Mike go was difficult based on our friendship and working relationship,” said Chris Sienko, the Sun’s vice president and general manager. “Mike has had much success here in Connecticut over the past 10 seasons.
“However, we felt it was time for a new voice and new direction for our players and our fans as we continue to try to capture that first, elusive title,” Sienko said. “We wish Mike and his family nothing but success and know our paths will cross again in the future.”
Thibault guided the team to 206-134 regular-season record and eight playoff appearances in 10 seasons. The Sun reached the WNBA Finals in 2004 and 2005, and the team advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals five times.
The 2012 team finished 25-9, advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals with a sweep of the New York Liberty before losing to the Indiana Fever in three games. The Sun were eliminated from the playoffs on October 11 at Mohegan Sun Arena, falling 87-71 to the Fever, which went on to beat Minnesota for its first WNBA championship.
“We have the ultimate respect and appreciation for everything coach Thibault has done here, and he has played a huge part in establishing the Connecticut Sun as the model franchise in the league. However, our ultimate goal is the championship, and this change is made in with an eye to accomplishing just that,” team CEO Mitchell Etess said.
The Sun will begin formerly interviewing candidates immediately. However, there is no set timetable to name Thibault’s replacement. Sienko said the team has several candidates in mind. “Ultimately, we want to find the best fit for our athletes and this organization,” Sienko said.