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Phoenix Mercury fire Vanessa Nygaard amid ‘frustrating’ season

The Phoenix Mercury fired head coach Vanessa Nygaard after a 2-10 start to the WNBA season. Nikki Blue will serve as interim head coach. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

The Phoenix Mercury announced on Sunday morning that Vanessa Nygaard is out as head coach after a 2-10 start to the 2023 WNBA season.

The news comes after Phoenix lost to the Seattle Storm 97-74 on Saturday night, marking the team’s fifth straight loss. Both Brittney Griner and Diana Taurasi played in Seattle after missing three games due to injury.

“What’s happening just isn’t going to cut it,” Griner said postgame.

“It’s the first time I’ve ever had a record like this, that’s for sure. It’s really frustrating honestly. I don’t know (how to fix it). I guess tear it down and rebuild it back up. I really don’t get it. It’s just not going the way we want it to go. It’s not the Phoenix Mercury basketball that we all know.”

Nygaard, who was hired by the Mercury in January 2022, oversaw a tumultuous 2022 season during which Griner was detained in Russia. The season prior, the Mercury played in the WNBA Finals under head coach Sandy Brondello, who left for the New York Liberty that offseason.

We thank Vanessa Nygaard for the way she endured and managed the adversity of the last year-plus.  Our organization and our fans have high expectations for this team, and we have not reached those with our performance this year,” Mercury general manager Jim Pitman said in a statement.

Mercury lead assistant coach Nikki Blue will serve as interim head coach for the remainder of the 2023 WNBA season. Prior to working as a collegiate and pro coach, Blue played five seasons in the WNBA for the Washington Mystics (2006-10) and the Liberty (2011).