New Sky coach and general manager Amber Stocks wasn’t at the top of owner Michael Alter’s list when he began a search to replace Pokey Chatman.
Stocks was buried below plenty of candidates who brought coaching experience, whether in the NBA, WNBA or college. Stocks spent the last two seasons as an assistant for the Los Angeles Sparks, but her resume didn’t include a previous head-coaching job.
In Alter’s mind, Stocks was a long shot.
“She was at the bottom of the list,” Alter admitted Tuesday.
But Stocks landed at the top of the heap after an extensive search that included 15-20 candidates. She replaces Chatman, who was fired in October after an 18-16 season and only two seasons removed from a WNBA Finals -appearance.
Last season, the Sky lost in the semifinals to the Sparks, who went on to win the WNBA title. Stocks, a former -assistant at Xavier and Tennessee, is known as a defensive specialist. She fills a need for the Sky, who were next-to-last in points allowed per game at 85.6.
Improving on that is among Stocks’ top priorities as she takes over a team that she believes has a strong foundation but one that -Alter said needs to establish a championship culture.
“What I hope becomes contagious is the intensity,” Stocks said. “Not just defensively, but offensively. Defense can create offense. [With] good defense — especially if you can force turnovers at the top of the key and force live-ball -turnovers — you can create a lot of good offensive opportunities.”
Stocks and Alter will begin to evaluate the roster, which includes restricted free agent Elena Delle Donne. Alter said the team will -begin conversations with its players to determine who wants to be part of the plan Stocks soon will put in place.
Stocks is just happy to be on board, even if she wasn’t initially among Alter’s top choices.
“I’ve been in many situations where I’ve been a long shot,” Stocks said. “I just do what I have to do in order to win. I know what I know. I know the game of basketball, I know I am right for this team and I know how right this team is for me.”
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