Connecticut Sun head coach Stephanie White was named 2023 WNBA Coach of the Year, the league announced Sunday. In her first year with the franchise, White led the Sun to a franchise-record 27 wins and the No. 3 seed in the playoffs despite a number of setbacks before and during the season.
White earned 36 votes from a panel of 60 media voters to win the award by a comfortable margin. Latricia Trammell of the Dallas Wings came in second with 11 votes, while Sandy Brondello of the New York Liberty received six votes to finish third. This is the fifth time that a Sun coach has won the award, which is more than any other franchise. In addition to White, Curt Miller (2017 and 2021) and Mike Thibault (2006 and 2008) each won the award twice with Connecticut.
Miller left in the winter after seven seasons in charge, in which he led the team to two Finals appearances, and the Sun picked White as his replacement. She had big shoes to fill and was immediately faced with a big setback when former MVP Jonquel Jones was traded to the Liberty. Then, just a month into the season, two-time All-Star Brionna Jones tore her Achilles tendon.
But despite losing two of the team's best players, she ensured standards didn't slip. With Alyssa Thomas and DeWanna Bonner leading the way on the floor, White guided the team to one of the best regular seasons in franchise history. They won a franchise-record 27 games, finished with the second-best defensive rating (98.8 points allowed per 100 possessions) and the third-best net rating (plus-4.4), and grabbed the No. 3 seed. Along the way they established themselves as the "best of the rest" behind the Aces and Liberty, and the one true threat to stop the expected Finals showdown between those two superteams.
White, who played in the league from 1999-2004 with the now-defunct Charlotte Sting and Indiana Fever, is the fourth former player to win Coach of the Year, joining Becky Hammon (2022), Brondello (2014) and Suzie McConnell-Serio (2004). She began her WNBA coaching career as an assistant with the Chicago Sky in 2007, before joining the Fever as an assistant in 2011. In 2015 she was named head coach of the Fever, and led the team to the Finals, where they ultimately lost to the Minnesota Lynx. After another playoff appearance in 2016, she departed to become the head coach at Vanderbilt University, where she stayed until 2021.