Is Whiz not a numbers whiz?

Or did he just have a “convenient” memory lapse? Did he fudge on some records, figuring no one would recognize that?

In a recent WNBA.com Q and A, the New York Liberty’s new coach/general manager John Whisenant discussed various topics, including the final season of the Sacramento Monarchs.

Whisenant has his new opportunity in the Big Apple and a superstar player in Cappie Pondexter; life seems pretty good for him. So it’s hard to understand why he would feel the need to distort anything that happened at Sacramento.

Here is Whisenant’s answer about the 2009 Monarchs season, according to WNBA.com’s Frank Della Femina: “I was general manager. I hired my own replacement after the 2006 season. People had wondered why, but in a six-month period during that last season and shortly after, I lost both my mom and dad, and it just felt like the right thing to do at that time. The coach I hired wasn’t doing well in ’09. We were 3-14 or something like that with much the same team that had won the WNBA championship [in 2005], so I came in and finished the year. We had finished 9-8, but started 3-14 in the first half, and going 9-8 wasn’t enough to make the playoffs.”

Let’s first say this: Anybody who is reading a WNBA.com Q and A in December is already a follower of the league, and certainly knows “the coach I hired” refers to Jenny Boucek, an aid to head coach Brian Agler this past season for the champion Seattle Storm. Whisenant doesn’t need to reference her as if she’s some kind of persona non grata in the WNBA.

Boucek was 40-41 as a head coach and made the playoffs in both her two full seasons leading the Monarchs. When Whisenant decided to replace her and take the job back, the Monarchs were not 3-14. They were 3-10, and had just come off a 107-105 loss at Phoenix, the team that would go on to win the WNBA title that year.

And he as Monarchs coach did not finish 9-8 that season, as he makes it sound. He was 9-12, and the Monarchs at 12-22 overall finished last in the Western Conference, two games behind fifth-place Minnesota. There was no valiant surge to the playoffs. Later that year, the franchise folded.

It’s notable that Whisenant says the 2009 team was “much the same” as the one that won the WNBA title in 2005, as if that was supposed to prove it was all Boucek’s fault that the Monarchs were struggling. In fact, the franchise’s lack of talent upgrading over the course of four years after the title was a part of the problem in 2009, and that was Whisenant’s responsibility, as he was GM.

Look, Whisenant went through difficult personal times and stepped away from coaching. Anyone could empathize with that. But after a couple of years, he wanted his old job back in Sacramento. And when the team hit a rough patch, it gave him an opening to get it.

Whisenant has a WNBA title on his coaching resume, and the Liberty management thinks he can do the same in New York. He may have a very favorable future there. But he should take care not to alter past records. People do notice.

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About mvoepel

Mechelle Voepel covers the WNBA, women's college basketball and other college sports for ESPN.com.
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5 Responses to Is Whiz not a numbers whiz?

  1. Jay says:

    Queenie,

    Much like sports seasons themselves…the games never end.

  2. Queenie says:

    Sheesh. And I thought we were done with those games when Blaze left.

  3. John says:

    Jenny Boucek was doing a decent job with the talent she had to work with, but the Monarchs started out slow in 2009. It does not paint John W in a good light to distort facts. I hope he does well, as I am a former Liberty ticket holder and a 9 year Sun ticket holder. But I want the Lib to do well. When the Garden is rocking there is no better place to watch basketball. Good luck, John, but check your facts before you make statements.

  4. Howard says:

    Those who matter certainly ought to know the truth. Thanks for pointing it out; I’m not inclined to catch those things on my own, but it is relevant.

  5. Jay says:

    Wow, it sure does sound like he was throwing Jenny Boucek under the bus, now doesn’t it?

    The Monarchs weren’t very good before she was fired, but I’ve been a fan of Boucek’s since her playing days at Virginia and I hate that she would get painted this way.