The Phoenix Mercury are expected to announce Vanessa Nygaard as their newest head coach on Monday, per The Athletic’s Chantal Jennings. Nygaard will be filling the shoes of Sandy Brondello, whose contract was not renewed following the Mercury’s trip to the 2021 WNBA Finals last season. After parting ways with Phoenix, Brondello became the head coach for the New York Liberty.
Nygaard brings with her a wealth of coaching experience, as well as the knowledge of a former WNBA player, after playing in the league for five seasons. Her coaching career has seen her at all levels of the women’s game, from high school on up to the pros, most recently serving as an assistant coach for the Las Vegas Aces last season.
As a former player, Nygaard reached the NCAA Final Four three times as a standout forward for Stanford back in the 1990s. Her coaching career began at the collegiate level, where she was an assistant at Long Beach State and Pepperdine, then made the jump to the WNBA in 2008. She’s spent time on the coaching staff for the San Antonio Stars and Washington Mystics, and has also spent time coaching high school girls basketball, where she led Winward High School to three state championships.
Nygaard will be taking over a Mercury team fresh off a WNBA Finals loss to the Chicago Sky this past summer. With stars Diana Taurasi, Brittney Griner and Skylar Diggins-Smith all on the roster for the 2022 season, Phoenix should once again be a team built to contend for the playoffs. After falling in the Finals a season ago, the Mercury are surely itching to get back to that position, so the expectations will be high in Phoenix for Nygaard.