Accustomed to the likes of Diana Taurasi, Anete Jekabsone-Zogota and Ewelina Kobryn with UMMC Ekaterinburg and a former teammate of Penny Taylor on the Australian national team, Sandy Brondello took the sideline for the first time as coach of the Phoenix Mercury Saturday, an 81-64 home win over the Seattle Storm.
“I thought it was good for the most part,” she said. “I thought the chemistry was good, we had three players in double figures, the bench really stepped up, everyone really came in and did their job. We put this team together because we wanted depth.”
Brondello represented Australia for 18 years and won two Olympic silver medals in 2000 and 2004. She was the WNBL MVP in 1995 and played five seasons in the WNBA before being named head coach of the San Antonio Silver Stars in 2010.
“She brings a lot of energy, really pushes us,” said Mercury center Brittney Griner, who had a game-high 19 points Saturday. “You can see it out there, we’re playing hard, getting up and content, she’s push, push, push.”
Brondello became the ninth head coach in the Mercury’s history in November, replacing interim Russ Pennell. Previously, she was an assistant to Carol Ross in Los Angeles.
“She coaches a solid game, so prepared, like she’s done before,” Taurasi said. “I’ve never played for someone where every little detail is taken care of, and tonight it showed how confident we are with that, and if you stick to the things that are in the game plan, we’ll have a good chance of winning.”
Mercury forward DeWanna Bonner added 11 points in the win Saturday.
“We’re playing a new type of basketball right now, she brought a lot of energy today, and there is a lot of room for improvements, but it was a good first game,” Bonner said.
“It was nice, we’ve been putting a lot of work in practice, so it’s nice to see it all come together opening night,” added Mercury forward Candice Dupree.
The Mercury plays its second game Sunday night in Los Angeles and returns home at 7 p.m. May 23 versus San Antonio.