Phoenix Mercury fire Head Coach Vanessa Nygaard; Nikki Blue takes over


Vanessa Nygaard Stats, Height, Weight, Position, Draft Status and More |  WNBA

Vanessa Nygaard (courtesy WNBA)

Sun, Jun 25, 2023

PHOENIX – The three-time WNBA Champion Phoenix Mercury today announced that they have parted ways with head coach Vanessa Nygaard.  Mercury lead assistant coach Nikki Blue has been elevated to the role of interim head coach for the remainder of the 2023 season.

“We have chosen to make a change at head coach,” said Mercury General Manager Jim Pitman.  “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.  We have confidence in the job Nikki Blue will do as interim head coach for the remainder of the 2023 season.”

Blue, who joined the Mercury coaching staff in March 2022, has a combined 15 years of coaching experience in the WNBA and collegiate ranks. Prior to serving as lead assistant coach for the Mercury, she served three seasons as an assistant coach at Arizona State under head coach Charlie Turner Thorne (2019-22).  Her coaching experience also includes two seasons as the head assistant and recruiting coordinator at Grand Canyon University (2017-19), three seasons at CSU Bakersfield (2014-17) where she served as the top assistant and six seasons as an assistant coach at UNLV (2008-14).  Prior to coaching, she played five seasons in the WNBA with the Washington Mystics (2006-10) and New York Liberty (2011). Blue was drafted as the 19th overall pick in the 2006 WNBA Draft out of UCLA where she earned Pac-10 first team honors all four years (2002-06).

Nygaard, who was hired as Mercury head coach on January 24, 2002, compiled a 17-30 regular season record in two seasons. The Mercury are currently 2-10.

Nikki Blue (Arizona State photo)
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