Dan Hughes, once again a WNBA all star coach, holds his last appearance close to his heart.
Harley Hughes, father of longtime WNBA coach Dan Hughes, was sick in the summer of 2009, and passed away that fall.
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But he made it out to Connecticut to watch Hughes coach his first all star game, heading up the Western Conference in a 130-118 win at Mohegan Sun Arena.
“To him, that was the greatest game I was ever involved in,” Hughes told High Post Hoops Thursday night, after learning of the honor. “You know, we scored 130 points. And Dad didn’t understand that All Star games are, a little different. He loved me to death—and he finally thought I got the offense right.”
Hughes will get another opportunity to get the offense right when he coaches one of the two teams at the 2018 WNBA All Star Game in Minneapolis on July 28. Hughes and Phoenix Mercury coach Sandy Brondello clinched the spots, given to the coaches with the two best record, following this afternoon’s Dallas-Los Angeles game.
Hughes certainly hasn’t seen his Storm struggle offensively so far this year. The Storm own a 108 offensive rating, best in the league, helping Seattle match their win total for all of 2017 in 13 fewer games.
Brondello also has a history of coaching in the game, having piloted the Western Conference all stars to a 117-112 win over the East in 2015, a game also held at Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut.
For Hughes, however, the game marks more than simply the passage of time, or even, say, another chance, about a decade later, to coach in a game with Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi, both 2009 all stars who played for Hughes on the West, with both expected to receive all star honors in 2018 as well.
It’s also another chance to think of his father, and that trip he made from Lowell, OH to see his son coach one last time.
“I couldn’t help but think of him, and how much he enjoyed that game,” Hughes said. “And we talked about it right up until he died. And now here I am, coaching nine years later—and I couldn’t help but look up in the sky and smile a little bit. Because to him, that was the greatest game I ever coached.”