Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Thibault, Sun assistants signed to extensions

This got up on the Bulletin Web site earlier this morning, but here is the brief on Mike Thibault's contract extension, which is for three years, including an option in the final year (2010).

Norwich Bulletin

MOHEGAN — The Connecticut Sun have signed head coach Mike Thibault and assistants Bernadette Mattox and Scott Hawk to three-year contract extensions, including an option year, the team announced Wednesday at its Tip-off Breakfast at Mohegan Sun Casino.

The trio has led the Sun since its move from Orlando five years ago, and will be under contract until 2009, with the option year to return in 2010.

Sun general manager Chris Sienko said he has been in discussions with Thibault over his new deal since October, and though under team policy no terms were released, Sienko said the new contract puts Thibault “toward the top” when compared to other WNBA coaches’ salaries. It also keeps together one of the longest-tenured staffs in the league.

“I think that’s probably the key to our success,” Sienko said of that continuity. “These guys love to teach, the players love learning from them, they’re a good group. And I think again because they’ve been together for so long, it helps. Players want to come here because of that.”

Without a new deal, this season would have fallen under Thibault’s option year in his old contract, but instead, will be enhanced with as many as two seasons to follow.

If Thibault sees out the life of the deal, it would bring him into his eighth season in Connecticut and would match the longest tenure in a single organization in his diverse career. Thibault also spent eight years with the Omaha Racers of the CBA in the late 1980s and early to mid '90s.

“When I came here, I came with no set plans about length or anything else,” Thibault said. “I’ve already turned down three or four NBA situations the last couple years because I like doing what I’m doing. The organization has treated us great, I have a great coaching staff with me, I like my team, I like being a head coach. There are reasons to go into the NBA, but there are reasons not to, too.”

Thibault said he’s also had at least one offer to coach a women’s college basketball program since coming to Connecticut.

Instead, he’s stayed, leading the Sun to a winning season in each of their first five years and the most regular-season wins by any franchise in that span. Entering this year, Thibault sports a career record of 106-64 in the WNBA (.623 winning percentage, second among active coaches), and has reached the finals twice. Last season, he became the third-fastest coach in league history to reach 100 wins, and was named Coach of the Year in 2006.

“I didn’t even look at anything this year; I didn’t want to,” Thibault said. “I’m happy. I think the biggest thing in life is to quit worrying about where you’re going and just be happy where you are. I think there are a lot of people in my profession who spend a fair amount of their time always looking ahead to something else instead of enjoying what you got. Maybe it comes with an age, the wisdom that you don’t have when you’re younger, (but) as you get older and have kids, you learn what the more important things are.”

This is the second extension Thibault has signed with the Sun.

“They’ve had opportunities elsewhere and they’ve interviewed other places to be coaches,” Sienko said. “I think part of that is wanting the right situation and I think part of that is he (Thibault) likes what we have here and believes in what we can accomplish.”

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