By DOUG FEINBERG AP Basketball Writer
Curt Miller has worked his way up through the women’s basketball coaching ranks. Now he’ll get his first chance to lead a WNBA team.
The Connecticut Sun hired Miller as their new coach Thursday.
“We knew this was a very important hire for the team,” Sun President and CEO Mitchell Etess said. “It’s a great job to have and we have a great roster to go along with it. … The more we spoke to Curt and spoke to people about Curt, he had all the attributes we wanted for success.”
Miller spent 13 years as a college head coach, including 11 at Bowling Green, guiding the Falcons to five NCAA Tournament appearances. He coached at Indiana for two seasons before taking the assistant job for the Los Angeles Sparks in May.
“Not sure long-term wise I had envisioned becoming a WNBA coach that quickly,” Miller said. “As I transitioned into the pro game I couldn’t get enough. I’m a film junkie and watch film, watch players and try to learn as much about the league as possible. I fell in love with it and am very honored to be a pro coach.”
He replaces Anne Donovan, who stepped down in October after the Sun finished 15-19. Connecticut was missing several key players, including star Chiney Ogwumike, who underwent surgery on her right knee in January and missed the entire season.
Miller inherits a talented squad that also includes the WNBA’s most improved player, Kelsey Bone. The Sun have the No. 3 pick in the draft.
“I don’t think this is a rebuilding situation. … There are a lot of fun pieces in place,” he said.
Miller is looking forward to leading them.
He came to the attention of Etess and general manager Chris Sienko at the suggestion of UConn coach Geno Auriemma, who had great things to say about Miller.
“I just think he deals with players really well. He gets them to commit to a certain style of play,” Auriemma said. “There’s a little bit of variety in his system of play. I think it makes players better and I think that is something that I’ve always been impressed with, and I think that is something that is going to help him in the WNBA. He makes players better. The Sun have a young roster. He’s a great teacher and I think that is going to be a good match between him and the young players on the roster.”
The Sun haven’t made the playoffs the past three seasons.
Miller will be just the third coach for the team since it relocated to Connecticut in 2003 from Orlando.
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