The next head coach of the Mercury is....

The Phoenix Mercury hired Sandy Brondello as the teams next head coach. She has a strong resume as a former WNBA Player and medal winner with the Australian Olympic Team. She is a nine year WNBA veteran and served as an assistant for six years after that.

After five and a half years of consistency the Mercury now feature their third coach in just under six months.

The Mercury made the move from Corey Gaines to Russ Pennell to jump-start the team, which worked, leading to a trip to the Western Conference Finals after starting 10-11 this past summer. Pennell made an effort to feature the teams rookie phenom Brittney Griner and strike a balance between offense and defense, but only had 13 games not counting the playoffs to implement a system.

Pennell made the decision to move back into the college ranks where his heart truly is.

With that, the team introduces Brondello who will also serve as the Vice President of Player Personnel this year. Her ties to the Mercury start with playing with Penny Taylor on the National Team, to coaching Diana Taurasi in Russia, and to coaching against the Mercury in the 2010 WNBA Playoffs.

"I am very humbled and excited about the opportunity to be the head coach of the Phoenix Mercury," said Brondello.  "It is an organization that I have respected and admired for so long. The team has great past achievements and I will be working hard to continue that legacy of success.  I am looking forward to having the great fans in Phoenix behind me now and not against me."

Brondello was on Carol Ross' staff in Los Angeles this past year and coached the San Antonio Silver Stars before that. She has experience with star players (Candace Parker) and talented bigs (Danielle Adams) with success. Now she has both.

There should be some comfort and chemistry early with the Mercury players and Brondello initially. Coaching style and game-plans will run through Taurasi and Griner, which will be a fun challenge for the new coach.

Taylor and Taurasi have reacted positively to the new coaching hire.

"I am so excited to get to work with Sandy," said Taylor.  "Her knowledge of the women's game, and basketball experience in the WNBA and around the world are second to none."

"Having played for Sandy overseas I know the dedication and passion she will bring to the Phoenix Mercury," said Taurasi.  "We are all excited for the future."

Now the attention of the team turns to free-agency, college basketball scouting, the 2014 WNBA Draft, and putting the right pieces on the court for Brondello to be successful. The biggest difference with the announcement of Brondello and the two that preceded her; Vice President of Player Personnel. Not the Coach-GM hybrid that the team has been used to over the years.

The circus is coming to town, and the Phoenix Suns are ready for it. As has long been the case in the NBA, a veteran team's kryptonite is a brash, young opponent early in the NBA season. Enter the Phoenix Suns.

For the past several years, the Phoenix Suns have been the team dreading that game on the schedule featuring a young, upstart team who could run the aging Suns off the court on any given night. Finally, the Suns are that team and the Brooklyn Nets are that aging unit wishing they could just fast-forward to Saturday.

The opponent

The Brooklyn Nets starting unit is "swoll" with All-Stars at nearly every position: each of PG Deron Williams, SG Joe Johnson, SF Paul Pierce, PF Kevin Garnett and C Brook Lopez have all made at least one All-Star game. Compare that to the Suns starting lineup boasting 0 All-Star games and you'd think the Suns would be easily eclipsed tonight.

Yet the Nets have started the season 2-5 with no signs of a turnaround yet. Their offense is horrendous, ranked 26th in points-per-100-possessions while their defense is middle of the pack (14th).

The Nets are 0-4 so far on the road, with losses to Cleveland, Orlando, Washington and Sacramento who are collectively 7-22 against the rest of the league. Worse than that, the Nets are losing to those losers by an average of 106-93.

Joe Johnson is averaging his fewest points (12.7) since his second NBA year in 2002. Not to be outdone, Deron Williams is averaging his fewest points (11.0) and assists (7.4) since his rookie season in 2005. Think that's bad? Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett laugh at that. Pierce is averaging a career low in points (13.7) while Kevin Garnett is doing the same (6.0).

Only Brook Lopez is playing well among their starters, putting up nearly 20 points and 7 rebounds a game at the center position.

Still, these guys are All-Stars and the Nets can wake up at any moment. Let's hope it's not tonight.

For an inside scoop on the Nets, be sure to check out my Q and A with Nets Daily's Dennis Velasco on the state of the Nets.

The Suns

We all know about the Suns, but did you know the Suns are now up to 4th in defensive efficiency after the Portland game while their offense has dropped to 19th overall. Frankly, when the Suns aren't fast-breaking, they're not making enough shots in the half-court sets. The Suns need to run to succeed. If the Nets can slow down the game, the Suns will be in trouble.

Two of the Suns top three scorers come off the bench - Markieff Morris (WCF POW) pours in 15.9 and Gerald Green scores 13.7 - to lead the self-named Bench Mob.

Goran Dragic most likely returns to the lineup, hopefully to finish the game this time. Dragic has only finished 3 of 8 games so far this season, missing two games entirely due to ankle injury and leaving three others (ankle, bleeding gash) before they finished. Let's hope new daddy Dragic can see out of both eyes on Friday night.

The stats

Screen_shot_2013-11-15_at_7

The Suns get a lot more steals and play much better on the defensive end. And, while the Suns are struggling on offense they seem to be a lot better than the Nets there too. The Nets rebound the ball well, and get to the free throw line for easy hoops.

The lineups

Screen_shot_2013-11-15_at_7

All-Stars up and down the line for the Nets. At least two Hall of Famers. Yet only one of them is still on his way up (Brook Lopez) while the others are either clinging to the top or have already slipped down the back side.

The key matchup

The key matchup is the face-off of big PG Deron Williams against the speedy Eric Bledsoe. Williams has the ability to get hot and pour in 30+ points in a game on a ton of 3s and array of midrange shots and layups. He is (was) the complete package. Bledsoe may be able to take Williams out of his rhythm simply by playing at top speed. Let's hope it goes that way.

The prediction

Brooklyn is 0-4 on the road, losing by an average of almost 13 points.

Phoenix is 4-0 at home, winning by and average of almost 9 points.

The law of averages state that teams regress to the mean. Let's just hope that's not tonight. The Nets have shown no inclination to win on the road yet, and Phoenix is the toughest team they've faced. Their previous road opponents are a combined 7-22 in other games.

Suns win 105-95.

For more coverage, check out NetsDaily

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The circus is coming to town, and the grand masters are former Phoenix Suns Jason Kidd and Joe Johnson. Coming with them are the aging Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. So many big names, yet so few wins in this young season.

The Brooklyn Nets step into the fray against the Phoenix Suns laden with postseason expectations. Their starting lineup is dotted with All-Stars and the sideline is run by a Hall of Famer. What could go wrong? Well, a 2-5 start has a lot of people wondering if money really can't buy everything.

It's important to know your opponent, and there's few better ways than an insider look at the team. Enter SB Nation partner NetsDaily, who cover the Brooklyn Nets. Dennis Velasco and I exchanged questions about our teams this week in prep for the game tonight (US Airways Center, 7pm).


Bright Side of the Sun: Both the Suns and Nets have rookie NBA coaches, though Jason Kidd went straight from playing to coaching. How has that worked out so far for the Nets?

Dennis Velasco, NetsDaily: Well, considering the Nets' 2-5 record headed into tonight's match-up versus the Suns, it isn't going so well. You know that old saying, which I'll paraphrase here - "It's not like the coach played the game" - well, it may be an improvement if Jason Kidd actually threw on a uni and laced up his kicks another season. There is a clear lack of leadership that many fans were expecting to come bursting forth when Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce came to Brooklyn. So far, it's invisible. And, except for extreme cases such as Gregg Popovich, coaches are the ones that should be invisible. However, this being Kidd, him being a rookie head coach with zero experience as any type of coach, and most importantly, this being New York, Kidd is very much NOT invisible. He is thrown under a microscope everyday and it seems now, under a bus. For the most part, he's been the scapegoat, inspiring the Twitter hashtag, #FireKidd. Fair or not, Kidd's judgement by the fans will be harsh as long as the Nets don't produce and meet expectation. However, should the day come when the Nets string together Ws during the season and play well into the postseason, you'll see #WeBelievedInKiddFromTheBeginning trending on Twitter. Such is the beast.


BSotS: The Suns hired Lindsey Hunter to coach the team without, despite his not having any previous coaching experience at all. The results were disastrous - he didn't know how to manage a game (the lead assistant did that for a month) and didn't get the respect from players because he was flying by the seat of his pants. How has Jason Kidd handled game management and earning player respect?

NetsDaily: From the beginning, Kidd's credibility as a person of basketball - Olympic gold medalist, NBA champion, one of the best all-time point guards - was atmospheric. To a certain degree, you always have respect for those that did the things you want to do, and every single Nets player not named Garnett, Pierce and Terry revere Kidd. The aforementioned trio certainly respect the man. So, the respect is there, although, it has to be understood that it will take Kidd some time to fully get into a coaching groove. He has some top-notch assistants in Lawrence Frank and John Welch, who are very hands-on and interact very well with the team. Heck, Frank runs sprints with the team during practice! So, the trust and respect is really there for that collective and it's strong. As far as game management, the problem right now is rotations, which is a problem when Andrei Kirilenko isn't healthy. It's also a problem when Kidd says that he'll let the team play through runs by the other team. That's kind of blew up in his face this season. Kidd seems to be putting too much in the team and not grabbing them by the testicles and leading. Yes, the team is talented and should be doing way better than they are, but it still needs direction from the sidelines. Kidd seems to have disappointed in this regard.

BSotS: Garnett and Pierce are in the sunset of their careers looking for one last shot (or two) at a ring. I know their stats are down, and their skills are fading a bit. But, at the least, are they playing with that kind of passionate focus they brought in Boston in 2007?

NetsDaily: If we're speaking honestly, heck no. Other than getting up for the Miami Heat game, I don't see any of the passion we were all expecting as Nets fans. One of the main reasons being how badly Garnett has played. Offensively, forget about it, or as the natives say, fuhgeddahboutit! However, as you stated, skills are naturally fading. But, here's the problem - Garnett, quite possibly the greatest help defender ever and definitely one of the better defensive players to play the game, is making really dumb mistakes on defense. Just really bad decisions you would expect from a rookie! Pierce actually looks like he can still play, but there hasn't been any consistency yet. Part of that is a lack of a concrete rotation and what seems like an "up in the air" approach on how to give these old guys minutes from game-to-game this season. I'm honestly dumbfounded right now because I pinned so much hope on Garnett changing the entire culture, off and on the court. Disappointing.

BSotS: Brook Lopez has really stepped up this season. He's been fantastic offensively, though his rebound rate has dropped a bit. Is this an All-Star year for Brook like a year ago?

NetsDaily: Well, the problem is that the NBA took away the center position for the All-Star Game! Well, not really a problem, but more of a hindrance that lessens the chances of Brook getting chosen. There are a lot of really good forwards, both at the 3 and 4 in the East. Do I think Lopez is the best center in the East? No question. However, he isn't a household name and hasn't appeared in the postseason nearly enough to be recognized by the voters that are casual fans. Bropez could very well be selected after the open vote, however, as he was last year. My hope is that the Nets right the ship and with their winning, he gets more notoriety, because for the Nets to do well, Lopez will actually need to be a big part of it.

BSotS: What's your prediction for game on Friday, in terms of score and how it will play out?

NetsDaily: The Nets have had BIG-TIME trouble with younger athletic teams that can run up and down. The Nets took the day from practice on Thursday, in all likelihood because of the anticipation of needing their legs for the Suns and Los Angeles Clippers the next night. However, it had to have also been for that mental break - to clear their heads. I've been a fan of the Pacers offense that controls tempo and for the Nets to succeed, I think they need to follow that model. It'd be nice if they actually played D like the Pacers too, but we can't always get what we want, right? Previously, my gut instinct has been that the Nets would win... and that's objectively speaking too... and the Nets have lost. My gut instinct here is that they'll lose because of the aforementioned athleticism and speed, so if symmetry is a friend of mine, they'll win. However, I'll go with my gut and say the Suns run the Nets out of the building and win 112-89. But, let's go symmetry!!!

Check out NetsDaily throughout the day for great coverage of tonight's game, including my own Q and A with Dennis on the Suns' hot start and glimmering future.

A look at Suns-related news floating around the internet from the last week. Also an open thread to discuss anything and everything.

The Phoenix Suns are now 5-3 after a tough, heartbreaking loss against the Portland Trail Blazers last night. On the bright side (because that's how we roll around here), there were plenty of positives to take away from that game - Eric Bledsoe's continued brilliance, Plumlee's play, the consistent defensive effort of the entire team, etc.

The Suns will next play the struggling Brooklyn Nets on Friday night in Phoenix. The Nets, at 2-5, have begun the season in poor fashion and many of their fans are already in panic mode. This should be a fantastic matchup of an old yet talented team of All-Stars playing lethargically and underperforming versus a young, overachieving roster of athletic players.

Anyway, let's take a look at some random Suns-related content that floated around various parts of the internet this last week.

Power Rankings

CBS Sports (Nov. 11) - #9:

They're in every game. They never give up. They have so many weapons. They stay calm when things go badly. None of these things are things I expected to say about this team this season.

Sports Illustrated (Nov. 11) - #7:

The Suns continue to defy expectations, winning three of their last four games despite the absence of starting point guard Goran Dragic. Eric Bledsoe is playing like a mini-Russell Westbrook, averaging 20.9 points, 7.3 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 1.9 steals. It doesn't hurt that Markieff Morris has been on fire, averaging 24.7 points off the bench in the last three games.

ESPN (Nov 11.) - #16:

With a 4-0 start at home and a 2-0 mark against the playoff-chasing Pelicans, Phoenix is threatening to surpass Philly for No. 1 in November's Cinderella rankings. More important: Jeff Hornacek already gives you the impression that he can get his players to buy in. Which is huge if it lasts.

USA Today (Nov. 9) - #10:

Eric Bledsoe nickname suggestion: "Get Rich or Fly Tryin'."

NBC Sports (Nov. 11) - #8

The fast start is in part due to Eric Bledsoe, but also Jeff Hornacek has them playing the seventh best defense in the NBA (based on points per possession). It's early, we'll see what kind of level they can sustain, still this is a good sign for trying to build a foundation going forward.

Preposterously Premature Playoff Picture

Wc_standings_11-14_medium

See you in the postseason, OKC!

Link of the Week

If there's one link you click on this week to read something about the Suns not on Bright Side of the Sun, make sure it's this phenomenal profile on Bledsoe's play thus far into the season by Jack Winter of Hardwood Paroxysm. It's fantastic and you won't regret it.

Plays of the Week

Kieff's put-back dunk on Mozgov after a missed free throw:

Eric Bledsoe's block on Anthony Davis:


Gerald Green's Windmill Dunk


Tweets of the Week

Goran Dragic dominated the Twitter headlines for the Suns this week, first with the birth of his son Mateo (Baby Dragon!) and then with the nasty cut he received on his face against Portland:

I would like to thank everyone for sending their best wishes. It is the best feeling in the world! #maliJunak

— Goran Dragic (@Goran_Dragic) November 12, 2013

Just wanted to take time out to say congratulations to a great teammate @Goran_Dragic on his new born son!!

— Archie Goodwin (@A1Laflare10) November 11, 2013

Congratulations to @Goran_Dragic and his wife on their new baby boy!

— Miles Plumlee (@milesplumlee13) November 11, 2013

On Nov 12, 2010 Steve Nash had a son he called "Matteo". On Nov 11, 2013 Goran Dragic had son he called "Mateo". Both babies were 7lb 7oz.

— Seth Pollack (@sethpo) November 11, 2013

Exclusive photo of Goran Dragic's wife and their newborn son, Mateo (aka Baby Dragon): pic.twitter.com/5RhA2RX6e7

— Sreekar (@sreekyshooter) November 12, 2013

RT @suns_jfie: Goran Dragic has just gotten off of the doctors table, 13 stitches to close gash on side of nose (NASH WOULD BE PROUD)

— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) November 14, 2013

I be back next game!!! Nasty cut pic.twitter.com/sMbzcGqOHr

— Goran Dragic (@Goran_Dragic) November 14, 2013

Goran Dragic gives his son the same name as Steve Nash's son, gets a vintage Nash injury the next day. COINCIDENCE? pic.twitter.com/mRGFJG2Pye

— Sreekar (@sreekyshooter) November 14, 2013

Non-Suns Related Tweet of the Week

I had to make a new category just to post the gem of a tweet Matt Barnes shared with the world last night after he (shocker) was ejected for his role in instigating a ruckus against the Thunder. Barnes then tweeted the following (while the game was still being played) but deleted it after a while. For some reason, athletes tend to forget that the internet always remembers what you share:

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Bright Sider of the Week

The second Bright Sider of the Week award in the history of awards goes to (drumroll please).....Andy Buckdawg for his awesome "Comedy Screencaps" fanpost. If you haven't seen it yet, go check it out. Andy, you can collect your award when you post your next issue of comedy screencaps. Congrats!

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Any other news you'd like to share? Any suggestions for what else you'd like me to do/include in these weekly segments (I'm open to anything!)? As always, feel free to discuss below!

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