Cheryl Reeve: Liberty down to their “final three” in coaching search

According to Minnesota Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve, assistant Walt Hopkins could be a finalist to lead New York

Following the Indiana Fever’s announcement hiring 2019 WNBA champion coach Marianne Stanley, news of who will be filling the second head coaching vacancy in the league may be on the horizon.

On her podcast “The Cheryl Reeve Show” with Jim Souhan, a Twitter question prompted Lynx Head Coach Reeve to reveal her opinions on the Fever’s hiring and what she knows about the opening in New York.

“The New York position I don’t know a lot about in terms of who’s involved,” Reeve said. “I do know that they are sort of in the home stretch. They’ve got it down to let’s call it a final three. They should probably know something in the coming weeks I imagine.”

While Reeve didn’t go on the record to disclose who exactly is on the Liberty’s shortlist, she divulged that her assistant Walt Hopkins “is a candidate for coaching positions.”  Hopkins would be an obvious fit in New York.

In October following the news that New York was moving on from Katie Smith, High Post Hoops determined what qualities the Liberty need in their next head coach, while also speculating who should be considered. Hopkins, who has excelled working to improve and develop relationships with All-Star point guards, could be heavily considered in light of New York’s upcoming 2020 draft prospects with triple-double queen Sabrina Ionescu projected to go number one.

While Hopkins appears to be included in the Liberty’s “top three,” Reeve spelled out a lack of diversity at the head coaching position within the WNBA while on-air. When the Fever fired Pokey Chatman in September, no woman of color retained a head coaching role within the WNBA.

Reeve explained how “layered” of an issue this is, describing how small the pool of candidates is within the W rather than in the college circuit. Part of the issue is how the current pipeline is structured. Reeve noted that there are many former players who want to get into coaching and begin at entry-level positions. But the issue within the WNBA is that these positions are limited by current statutes. Apparently, there can only be two assistant coaches on a bench, which often leaves former players sitting behind the bench instead of on it.

Reeve believes these older rules have limited the pipeline as the entry-level coaching position was, in her words, “penalized.” But she teased a future rule change.

“They are going to alter how many coaches you can have on the bench,” Reeve said. “It would include someone like [Plenette] Pierson. [Right now] You can only travel 18 people. The third assistant would be behind the bench rather than on the bench.

“The only way that you are going to be able to have that expanded travel party or that player on the bench would be if you have a former player on your staff. That’s going to increase the number of former players that are going to get some experience.”

She reflected on her own pipeline process within the Lynx organization.  Former assistant and reigning coach of the year James Wade, and now Hopkins, who could be on his way to a head coaching gig, are both males.

“So I’ve said I need to do better,” Reeve told Souhan. “I’m turning out male coaches to coach in the WNBA. And so I’m going to make a concerted effort to change that. I want to make sure that the next coach that I get is going to be a female and I’d like females of color to be a priority.”

Now back to the Liberty. All eyes are on New York GM Jonathan Kolb, who is serving his first full year with the organization and is at the helm of bringing the Liberty into 2020.

Number one draft pick. New home arena. Nebulous free agency. But who will Kolb choose to guide that front on the hardwood?

“I’m excited for New York fans to learn who’s going to lead them over at Barclays center,” Reeve said. “It’s an exciting time for them.”

Will it be Hopkins? Only weeks’ time will tell.

Love our 24/7 women’s basketball coverage? Join our Patreon now and support this work, while getting extra goodies and subscriber-only content for yourself.

Load Comments