The Minnesota Lynx’s Cheryl Reeve is the recipient of the 2011 WNBA Coach of the Year Award, the WNBA announced today. Reeve received 36 votes from a national panel of 40 sportswriters and broadcasters. Seattle’s Brian Agler, the 2010 winner, finished second with two votes, while Indiana’s Lin Dunn and Connecticut’s Mike Thibault each received one vote.
Reeve is the latest Lynx to receive WNBA honors in 2011. Earlier today, forward Maya Moore was named the Rookie of the Year. Minnesota players also swept the Western Conference Player of the Month honors with Rebekkah Brunson winning in June, Seimone Augustus in July, and Lindsay Whalen in August. Minnesota’s combined five Conference Player of the Week awards (three by Augustus and two by Brunson) also led the league.
Under Reeve’s tutelage, the Lynx authored a significant turnaround in 2011, finishing the regular season with the league’s best record (27-7) and earning the No. 1 overall seed in the 2011 WNBA Playoffs presented by Boost Mobile. Minnesota’s 14-game improvement over last season (13-21) is the second-largest such turnaround in WNBA history. The Lynx open their Western Conference Semifinals series against San Antonio at home in Minneapolis tonight.
Minnesota’s best regular season in the franchise’s 13-year history included team records for total victories and home wins in a season (27 and 14, respectively), and a share of the WNBA mark for most road wins (13). Excelling at both ends of the floor, Minnesota tied the 2010 Seattle Storm for the fifth largest point-differential in league history (+7.9 ppg) and set a franchise mark for victories by double-digit margins (17). Offensively, the Lynx shot a franchise-best 46.1 percent from the field, boasted the league’s assists leader (Lindsay Whalen), and ranked third in the league in scoring (81.5 ppg). Defensively, Minnesota held opponents to a league-low 41.3 percent shooting. The Lynx also led the league in rebounds (36.5 rpg) and fell just .1 percent short of the single-season WNBA record for rebounding differential (+6.4 pg).
For the 44-year old Reeve, the honor comes in just her second year as a WNBA head coach, having taken over the reins in Minnesota for the 2010 season. Prior to reaching the WNBA, the former Rhodes Scholar nominee and basketball star at Philadelphia’s LaSalle University spent 12 years on the collegiate level, including head coaching roles at Indiana State and George Washington. She then moved to the WNBA where stints as an assistant under Anne Donovan in Charlotte (2001-02, 2004-05) and Dan Hughes in Cleveland (2003) laid the foundation for an extremely successful tenure as an assistant with the Detroit Shock.
It was in Detroit, alongside head coach Bill Laimbeer and fellow assistant Rick Mahorn, that Reeve helped guide the Shock to the WNBA Finals in three consecutive seasons, winning championships in 2006 and 2008. Groomed by Laimbeer, who in 2008 expanded her duties to include the director of player personnel role, the Washington Township, NJ native was hired by Minnesota as head coach on Dec. 8, 2009.
Below are the voting results for 2011 WNBA Coach of the Year Award as well as a list of past recipients:
2011 COACH OF THE YEAR RESULTS
36 Cheryl Reeve Minnesota Lynx
2 Brian Agler Seattle Storm
1 Lin Dunn Indiana Fever
1 Mike Thibault Connecticut Sun
COACH OF THE YEAR WINNERS
2011 Cheryl Reeve Minnesota Lynx
2010 Brian Agler Seattle Storm
2009 Marynell Meadors Atlanta Dream
2008 Mike Thibault Connecticut Sun
2007 Dan Hughes San Antonio Silver Stars
2006 Mike Thibault Connecticut Sun
2005 John Whisenant Sacramento Monarchs
2004 Suzie McConnell Serio Minnesota Lynx
2003 Bill Laimbeer Detroit Shock
2002 Marianne Stanley Washington Mystics
2001 Dan Hughes Cleveland Rockers
2000 Michael Cooper Los Angeles Sparks
1999 Van Chancellor Houston Comets
1998 Van Chancellor Houston Comets
1997 Van Chancellor Houston Comets