Continuing their rebuilding process, the Washington Mystics named Julie Plank as their coach Thursday.
The move completes the reorganization of Washington’s front office. Washington hired Angela Taylor as general manager last month after firing Linda Hargrove.
Plank has served as an assistant since 1984, including the last nine years in the WNBA. She spent last season with the Minnesota Lynx, the same organization from which the Mystics hired Taylor, and spent eight years as an assistant with the Indiana Fever before that.
Plank said she doesn’t like to change jobs often, but she couldn’t ignore the opportunity Washington presented.
“You’re not just going to move for any situation,” said Plank, a former Stanford assistant (1986 to 1995). “I really felt like in reading the traits for the head coach here that it totally fit me. I love working with the players. I want to build things. … I just really felt like this was the right place.”
WNBA coaches and general managers voted Plank, who has a reputation as one of the league’s top player developers, as the top assistant coach for the 2008 season.
That made her attractive to the Mystics, who have an inexperienced roster and are committed to rebuilding. For now, their focus is on developing young players to reach their ultimate goal of creating a consistent playoff contender. The Mystics finished 10-24 last season but have five picks in the 2009 draft.
“It was extremely important that we found someone who would put the time in to develop our roster, to make our players better and also to assess the talent that we are seeking to add to our roster,” Taylor said. “I’ve known Julie for a long time. She is one of the best player developers in the women’s game. It’s not easy, and you have to give a lot of extra time. I think that she is going to bring that to this team.”
Plank inherits an unstable position (she is Washington’s 11th coach in 12 seasons), but chief operating officer Greg Bibb said he plans to end the coaching carousel.
Bibb, who joined the franchise in October 2007, has spearheaded the rebuilding process. In Taylor and Plank, he hopes he has found a core that can turn the direction of the bumbling franchise around. They both share his organizational philosophy that stability breeds success.
“When there’s turnover in organizations, it’s very hard to adjust,” Plank said. “When you look around the league and see the teams that have been there, they have a nucleus - whether it’s of a staff that’s been together or a core group of players that have competed together and know each other. It’s very hard to mix players together fast.”
Plank indicated her dedication to Bibb’s plan and said she plans to be a fixture on the Mystics’ bench for years to come.
“I’m familiar with the players in this franchise, and I’m looking forward to getting them together and building this,” Plank said. “I am very committed to staying here. … I get somewhere I’m comfortable, I want to build and I want to win.”