The Phoenix Mercury announced Sunday they have fired head coach Vanessa Nygaard after the team started 2-10 this season. Assistant coach Nikki Blue, who has coached in the NBA and WNBA for 15 years, has been appointed interim head coach.
Mercury GM Jim Pitman in a press release: “We have chosen to make a change at head coach. We thank Vanessa Nygaard for the way she endured and managed the adversity of the last year-plus. Our organization and our fans have high expectations for this team, and we have not reached those with our performance this year … We have confidence in the job Nikki Blue will do as interim head coach for the remainder of the 2023 season.”
Nygaard was hired in January 2022 to replace longtime head coach Sandy Brondello, who was then hired by the New York Liberty. Prior to coaching Phoenix, Nygaard spent a year as an assistant coach for the Aces and a decade as the head coach of the Windward School high school girls basketball team in Los Angeles. Nygaard had a 15-21 record in 2022, bringing the Mercury to the playoffs (which they lost in the first round).
Nygaard’s firing comes one day after the Mercury lost 97-74 to the Seattle Storm, their fifth-straight loss and their second-straight loss by 20 points or more. Phoneix has had an awful season thus far, and currently hold the worst record in the WNBA.
Blue, who played in the WNBA from 2006 to ’10, takes over as the interim coach after joining the team as an assistant last year; she previously served as an assistant coach at four different colleges. Blue’s first game at the helm will be June 27 when the Mercury take on the Dallas Wings
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