Two and a half months into the season and with a record of 10-11, the Mercury decided it was time to make a change.
The team announced Thursday that they have parted ways with their head coach and general manager, Corey Gaines. Taking over as interim head coach is former University of Arizona and Grand Canyon University head coach, Russ Pennell.
“First and foremost, we thank Corey for his years of dedication to this franchise, its players and its fans,” said Mercury President and Chief Operating Officer Amber Cox. “Corey helped bring two championships to our organization and for that we will be forever grateful. Unfortunately, our team’s performance this season has not lived up to our expectations, and at this time, a change was necessary. Russ Pennell is a proven leader and winner, whose resume speaks to his ability to build a winning culture founded in discipline and fundamentals.”
Gaines was first brought on with the Mercury organization in 2006 as an assistant coach under mentor Paul Westhead. He was the assistant for the team that won their first WNBA championship in 2007 and then took over for Westhead as the seventh head coach in franchise history in 2008. He then led the team to a second title in 2009. His nearly six-year tenure is longest among head coaches in team history, and his 90 regular season wins are a franchise record, as are his 11 career playoff victories.
Russ Pennell brings coaching experience most recently with the GCU Lopes basketball program where he revamped the program to new heights coaching them to a 72-44 overall record in four years, including an outstanding 42-16 mark over the last two campaigns. He was the interim head coach for the U of A after Lute Olsen officially announced his retirement and coached the Wildcats to the Sweet 16. His first job at the coaching level was at Arizona State where he coached for six years as an assistant.
Amber Cox will also take over for Gaines as the interim general manager.