The New York Liberty will have a new head coach heading into the 2018 season.
Former assistant Katie Smith was promoted to the main job after the announcement of Bill Laimbeer departing for the Stars – who themselves appear to be departing from San Antonio and are on their way to Las Vegas.
The soon-to-be former Liberty coach did mention in a conference call with the media on Monday that Laimbeer was, in many ways, grooming Smith to assume the head coaching job.
The turning point was probably when Bill brought me to New York, and wanted me to play a year, and then move over to the coaching side.
But if one were to ask Smith after she retired after a decade and a half as a player in the WNBA, drawing up plays, calling timeouts, and studying film was not exactly part of the initial plan.
Honestly, I will flat out tell you, I have always said that I never wanted to be a coach. I have said it many times that I don’t want to do it, I don’t want the same life, but now here we are, and I absolutely love it.
Smith did admit that, among other things, she is looking forward to coaching against her mentor next season.
It will be fun to see him on the other side. I know he’ll want to beat me and I’ll want to beat him.
In addition to wanting to beat Laimbeer’s team, the names Cheryl Reeve and Brian Agler are also on the brains as well. Those, of course, are the head coaches of the two teams that have played in the last two WNBA Finals – the Minnesota Lynx and Los Angeles Sparks.
Those two teams have to be considered the class of women’s basketball with the Liberty, Washington Mystics, Connecticut Sun (who have last year’s Coach of the Year in Curt Miller) and Phoenix Mercury not too far below the Sparks and Lynx.
She saw last season as a step forward for the Liberty while expressing that the last pair of playoff appearances did end in disappointment. Smith credits the Lynx and Sparks on being consistent and communicating well.
Sometimes, you may see something from the sideline, but it will be too late to bring up, so the fact that they have such great communication is key. But overall it is the consistency, and the discipline to always do what you need to do, like box out every possession, that is going to give you a chance to win a lot of ball games, and Minnesota and LA are the best at doing that in the league.