WNBA Coach of the Year Sandy Brondello to coach UMMC Yekaterinburg
Brondello, an Australian native and former WNBA player, was recruited by the Russian League to not only boost UMMC Yekaterinburg's performance in the upcoming season, but to attract young talented players to the league.
"This year we must do everything to be sure that our team has necessary chemistry to become better every day and win all the tournaments," Brondello said. "We have only one primary goal for every season-- winning the competition. It is also important to enjoy the process and be a really strong team."
Upon arriving in Yekaterinburg, Brondello immediately noticed major differences between the WNBA and the Russian League. Notably, WNBA seasons require teams to play a larger number of games in a shorter amount of time.
"The game level is also different-- WNBA is more athletic," Brondello said. "What matters for me is that playing in the WNBA is easier to progress, because there are no easy games. In Russia it's difficult to improve team performance because the competition is not high enough to [progress]."
Brondello also noted the higher earnings paid to Russian and European league players, despite the fact that the WNBA is more well-known.
"In Europe the players get a better fortune, but WNBA has the best world players competing against each other," Brondello said. "All women players want to play in the WNBA. But if the player is not ready yet, she goes to Europe to become stronger for the coaches to see her progress and one day [be asked to join] the WNBA."
Of all the players in the Russian League, Brondello has identified Spartak's Ksenia Tikhonenko and Russian National Team's Evgeniya Belyakova and Natalia Zhedik as potential WNBA recruits. Current UMMC Yekaterinburg teammate Maria Stepanova used to play for Phoenix Mercury before leaving the WNBA to return to Russia.
"I doubt that anyone else might possibly compete in the WNBA," Brondello said. "There are not so many Russians that have the necessary abilities to join the WNBA, but if they continue to work hard everything is possible. Coaches also make a big difference."
As assistant coach, Brondello will be working under her husband, Olaf Lange, who was appointed head coach of UMMC Yekaterinburg in 2012. The couple had previously coached the San Antonio Silver Stars together during their time in the WNBA.
"We are a great coach duo," Brondello said. "He is a leader while I am a team player. I always said that while I used to play under my husband's guidance I was able to develop my capabilities that enabled me to become a coach."
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