Magic Touch for Mystics? Stanley Determined to Lead Team into playoffs.(SPORTS)
Byline: Duff Durkin, THE WASHINGTON TIME
This winter, when Susan O'Malley was interviewing candidates to fill the Washington Mystics' coaching vacancy, she was taken aback by what she heard from applicants.
"Why aren't you looking at Marianne?" some asked, referring to Marianne Stanley, an assistant coach with the team last season.
The questions seemed strange to O'Malley, in her first foray into the coach selection process after spending years dealing only with the business side as president of Washington Sports & Entertainment. If competitors for the position were almost supporting Stanley's candidacy, O'Malley thought, why was she even looking at anybody else?
"[I] started to think, 'You're an idiot. How hard is it [to choose Stanley]?'" O'Malley said.
O'Malley went with the obvious choice to replace coach Tom Maher, under whom the Mystics went 10-22 last season, and so far Stanley - with the input of newly hired personnel consultant Pat Summit - has so impressed the entire Mystics organization that it is abuzz with talk of the team's first winning season and a deep run into the WNBA playoffs. The Mystics open the season June1 at home against Orlando.
"Marianne is in it to win it," O'Malley said. "She says it all the time, and everybody believes it."
Stanley would also say if such playoff talk is premature because - as her players already know - she doesn't mince words. She is very direct and honest in dealing with her players, and always lets them know where they stand. It's a method that doesn't always give players what they want to hear, but one that never leaves anything misunderstood, either.
"When you meet coach Stanley, you get the real deal, the raw deal. You get Marianne and everything she is," said rookie guard Stacey Dales-Schuman. "She doesn't hide anything. I love her honesty and her directness. There's no sugarcoating, and I appreciate that as a player."
Dales-Schuman said players got a first-hand dose of Stanley's up-front personality when it was time to make the season's first cuts last week. After the players who were cut met privately with Stanley, the coach told the team at practice why the players were cut and what they needed to do to make the squad. It was unusual for a coach to do that, Dales-Schuman said, but refreshing. "If you're not doing something right, you're told," she said. "If you are doing something right, you're also told. It's a continuous communication line that she keeps open."
But for Stanley, the lines of communication weren't always open when it came to coaching. For an 18-month period between 1993 and 1994, Stanley, who won three national titles in seven seasons at Old Dominion, couldn't get a job as a coach.
Stanley coached at Southern California from 1989 to 1993, but after she rejected a pay increase and her contract was not renewed after the 1992-93 season, she sued the school for sex discrimination over the discrepancy in her salary to the men's coach, George Raveling. …