08/22 09:58 CDT Mercury's Brondello, Griner earn WNBA awards
Mercury's Brondello, Griner earn WNBA awards
AP Basketball Writer
Sandy Brondello guided the Phoenix Mercury to the best record in WNBA history
and Brittney Griner's defense was a big reason why.
Both were honored by the league Friday, with Brondello winning coach of the
year and Griner earning the defensive player of the year award. The Mercury
finished the regular season 29-5 before heading into the playoffs.
"Defensive player of the year is MVP in my book," Griner said. "Defense is my
favorite part of the game and what I want to be known for."
The second-year star broke the league's single-season shot block record with
129, including 11 in one game against Tulsa on June 29. Griner was most proud
that many of her blocks led to points on the other end for her team.
"This year I got better at keeping them in play so my team can have a chance to
get an early fast break going," Griner said. "Still it was also always nice to
have a big block go into the stands out of bounds and fire us up and get us
Griner credits a lot of the team's success this season --- including 16
straight wins --- to the Mercury's first-year coach.
"She pays amazing attention to detail. When we go into that game, I know
everything my man's going to do," Griner said. "She knows every play the other
team's going to run. It's amazing being able to go into a game that prepared to
play our game. She's definitely been the key to our success."
Griner, who averaged 15.6 points, 8.0 rebounds and 3.8 blocks this season,
received 31 of the 38 votes by a national media panel of sportswriters and
"She's 6-foot-8, but has mobility," Brondello said of her young star. "Shot
blocking is about anticipation and she does a great job anticipating. She
wasn't where she thought she would be last year, but has really developed this
past year. She's really just scratched the surface."
Atlanta's Sancho Lyttle was second with four votes. Lyttle's teammate Angel
McCoughtry, Chicago's Jessica Breland and Minnesota's Maya Moore each received
Brondello also won in a landslide, garnering 33 of the 38 votes. Minnesota's
Cheryl Reeve and Washington's Mike Thibault each received two votes, while
Atlanta's Michael Cooper got one.
Follow Doug on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/dougfeinberg