- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 16, 2002

This winter, when Susan O'Malley was interviewing candidates to fill the Washington Mystics' coaching vacancy, she was taken aback by what she heard from applicants.
"Why aren't you looking at Marianne?" some asked, referring to Marianne Stanley, an assistant coach with the team last season.
The questions seemed strange to O'Malley, in her first foray into the coach selection process after spending years dealing only with the business side as president of Washington Sports & Entertainment. If competitors for the position were almost supporting Stanley's candidacy, O'Malley thought, why was she even looking at anybody else?
"[I] started to think, 'You're an idiot. How hard is it [to choose Stanley]?'" O'Malley said.
O'Malley went with the obvious choice to replace coach Tom Maher, under whom the Mystics went 10-22 last season, and so far Stanley with the input of newly hired personnel consultant Pat Summit has so impressed the entire Mystics organization that it is abuzz with talk of the team's first winning season and a deep run into the WNBA playoffs. The Mystics open the season June1 at home against Orlando.
"Marianne is in it to win it," O'Malley said. "She says it all the time, and everybody believes it."
Stanley would also say if such playoff talk is premature because as her players already know she doesn't mince words. She is very direct and honest in dealing with her players, and always lets them know where they stand. It's a method that doesn't always give players what they want to hear, but one that never leaves anything misunderstood, either.
"When you meet coach Stanley, you get the real deal, the raw deal. You get Marianne and everything she is," said rookie guard Stacey Dales-Schuman. "She doesn't hide anything. I love her honesty and her directness. There's no sugarcoating, and I appreciate that as a player."
Dales-Schuman said players got a first-hand dose of Stanley's up-front personality when it was time to make the season's first cuts last week. After the players who were cut met privately with Stanley, the coach told the team at practice why the players were cut and what they needed to do to make the squad. It was unusual for a coach to do that, Dales-Schuman said, but refreshing. "If you're not doing something right, you're told," she said. "If you are doing something right, you're also told. It's a continuous communication line that she keeps open."
But for Stanley, the lines of communication weren't always open when it came to coaching. For an 18-month period between 1993 and 1994, Stanley, who won three national titles in seven seasons at Old Dominion, couldn't get a job as a coach.
Stanley coached at Southern California from 1989 to 1993, but after she rejected a pay increase and her contract was not renewed after the 1992-93 season, she sued the school for sex discrimination over the discrepancy in her salary to the men's coach, George Raveling. Stanley had a series of injunctions and appeals rejected during the next six years, the last of which was heard in June 1999.
Stanley also paid a price, though, when applying for several DivisionI women's coaching jobs. In wake of the her contentious exit from Southern California, she got little attention from DivisionI schools, so she began applying for DivisionII and III women's and some men's positions. In all, she applied for 108 positions and was granted one interview, at the University of Iowa. She also got return phone calls from DivisionIII men's programs at Minnesota-Duluth and Bates College in Maine, but no offers.
Stanley's break came when a long-time friend, Stanford women's coach Tara VanDerveer, offered her an interim co-head coaching position for the 1995-96 season while VanDerveer coached the U.S. National team. Stanley, along with co-coach Amy Tucker, helped lead the Cardinal to the Final Four that season, which rejuvenated her coaching career.
"For a time, I thought [the lawsuit] destroyed my career, and for a year and a half, I was right," Stanley said. If VanDerveer didn't offer the Stanford job, "I don't know what I'd be doing."
Stanley only wanted to coach, and after Stanford, she would again get the opportunity. She coached four seasons at Cal before joining the L.A. Sparks as an assistant coach for the 2000 season, then was an assistant last season under Maher.
Now she's getting her shot as a WNBA coach, and has the support of long-time University of Tennessee coach Summit the two are the youngest women's coaches to lead a team to a national championship game. With the Mystics, Stanley has a fresh start and a grand opportunity to enjoy the type of success she had at the college level.
"During the time I coached against her, I thought she was one of the best bench coaches in the country," Summit said. "She always has tricks up her sleeve."
Said Stanley: "I bring my own influence to things, a lot of the evaluation of what we need to do differently, how we can play better, took place at the end of the season. I think that's helped our players. I think there's a good feel right now."
O'Malley must have that same feeling. She said she has told the scheduler for MCI Center not to book anything during the WNBA playoffs, the first time she has done that in four seasons.
"I'm telling you the last couple years, if we had a chance to get Janet Jackson, I'd go book her," O'Malley said. "'We're not getting there, book her.' Now I'm like, 'Hold the date.'"


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