NEWCASTLE (Paul Nilsen's Women's Basketball Worldwide) - Another WNBA campaign will soon be upon us and as the respective clubs slowly begin their preparations, one head coach in particular is looking beyond attaining success this summer with his team.
Seattle Storm play caller Brian Agler has revealed he feels the time is now right to spread his wings during the WNBA off-season and land a new role coaching in Europe during the forthcoming winter.
“I've traveled abroad multiple times and have watched the best Euroleague Women teams practice and play and consequently I have a tremendous amount of respect for the Euroleague Women competition,” explained Agler.
“I'm always very impressed with the skill level, the quality of play, the competitiveness of the league, the passion of the fans and of course, I have good familiarity with many of the players.
“These are all reasons for my desire to coach in Euroleague Women, or perhaps in some high level international situation," he went on.
“I now have support from Seattle Storm and the WNBA to have the flexibility to be abroad for long periods of time to pursue other coaching opportunities.”
Of course Agler would hardly be the first WNBA coach to cross the Pond and head to Europe if he does manages to find a suitable vacancy.
He would however have to be extraordinarily successful to match Chicago Sky coach Pokey Chatman who landed EuroLeague Women title success with Sparta&K M.R. Vidnoje – a fact not lost on Agler who has huge respect for the accomplishments of his peer.
He said: “I have known Pokey Chapman for years and have watched her teams practice and play both in the US and in Russia.
“She's an excellent coach and I'm thrilled for her that she has experienced great success with Sparta&K.
“She has also finally landed an opportunity in the WNBA with Chicago. She had a tough time in the WNBA last year, but it was just her first season.
“She learned a lot from that experience, so you will see improvement with the Chicago team in 2012."
It’s not surprising Agler is eager to try his hand at the helm of a top club overseas since he has always been keen to utilise international talent in the WNBA and that is a trend set to continue again this year.
“During my tenure in Seattle, we have had a strong international flavour on our roster,” he pointed out.
"In 2010 when we were crowned WNBA champions and five of our eleven players were international.
“This coming season, four or more will be international including three players from Euroleague Women champions Ros Casares in Lauren Jackson, Ann Wauters and Silvia Dominguez. We will also have Ewelina Kobryn from Wisla Can-Pack too."
“I have great respect for these international players since EuroLeague Women is a highly competitive competition.
“I believe that coaching in EuroLeague Women would allow me to learn new skills and techniques and become an even stronger coach in the WNBA and for the Seattle Storm.”
The acquisition of Dominguez is a particularly pleasing one from my own standpoint since I had her pencilled in as one of the best players in Istanbul at EuroLeague Women Final Eight recently. I am therefore thrilled that she has been given a chance to show her hard-nosed, understated but highly effective game in the WNBA.
Agler concurred by explaining: “We signed Silvia Dominguez to a free agent contract for the 2012 season. I have watched Silvia over the past four seasons while she has matured as a point guard.
“She has played in multiple EuroLeague Women championship games and has experienced success. I'm very impressed with her leadership and competitiveness.
“She will be a great contributor to the success of the Seattle Storm. She is very respected by Lauren Jackson, Sue Bird and Ann Wauters.”
While Agler is looking at exploring exciting new opportunities in terms of his medium-term future, Storm fans shouldn’t worry about him taking his eye off the ball when it comes to the WNBA and the shorter term.
The former championship winner is as excited and as passionate as ever about what lies ahead for a WNBA campaign which will be split into two parts due to the not so small matter of an Olympic Games.
“The forthcoming WNBA season will be highly-competitive with London 2012 factoring into how teams play and the dynamics of the season since we will take a 30-day ‘break’ from July 14th until August 15th," said Agler.
“Some players (like our own Lauren Jackson) will not participate in the WNBA season until the conclusion of the London Olympics.
“The WNBA is extremely competitive, so it’s going to be a very exciting season for fans and for players.
“The off-season has been particularly busy for the Seattle Storm and we feel like we have created a team with great balance in every way and are positioned to win.”
Meanwhile, there's little doubt that having thrown his hat into the ring, the top European clubs really can't complain when it comes to potentially having to shortlist for any empty hot-seat they may have. For the number of top level coaches out there interested in taking the reigns just keeps getting longer and longer.
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