The Washington Mystics will enter the 2023 WNBA season with a new head coach after word broke on Tuesday that longtime coach Mike Thibault would be retiring from the bench and his son, Eric, would be taking over those duties.
Mike Thibault will remain with the team as the general manager, but his 10-year tenure as head coach of the Mystics — which includes eight trips to the postseason and one championship — will come to an end. Eric Thibault, who has been on the staff with his father for all 10 years and has spent the past four as associate head coach, will move up a seat and, as he told ESPN’s Alex Philippou, look to guide Washington to another title.
“It’s very rare if somebody’s coming in their first year to have a chance to win the championship,” Eric said. “We’ve got a team that, if we make the right moves this offseason and we do the things we’re supposed to do and develop as a group, we’ll be a contender.
“We felt at the end of the season this year, that we were in that group. We probably weren’t the favorite… those last few steps from here to the top are sometimes the trickiest ones, but luckily we’ve navigated that terrain before.”
Washington won the title in 2019 but has not advanced beyond the first round of the WNBA Playoffs in the three years since. They will once again be led on the court by Elena Delle Donne, along with Ariel Atkins and Natasha Cloud, while looking to add a strong young talent to the mix after landing the No. 4 pick in this year’s Draft Lottery. Still, the task of reeling in the top teams in the WNBA, headlined by the reigning champs in Las Vegas, is tall and Eric Thibault will have to prove himself quickly as a head coach.