Dallas Wings name new head coach

Dallas Wings announce new head coach Brian Agler in Arlington, Texas on December 18, 2018. (Photo by/Sharon Ellman)

Following a season that presented high hopes two-thirds of the way in, but ended in disappointment, the Dallas Wings have now hired the winningest coach in in WNBA history.

Tuesday, the Wings announced the hiring of two-time WNBA champion coach Brian Agler as their next head coach.

“Brian’s record as a coach and reputation as one of the premier developers of basketball talent make him the ideal person to lead our young and talented team moving forward,” said Dallas Wings President and CEO Greg Bibb.

“Brian brings a proven track record and championship pedigree to our organization that will allow us to continue to improve on and off the court.”

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Agler joins the Wings as they are coming off their third season in the Metroplex. At one point in the 2018 season they were 14-9 with wins in seven of their past eight games. However, they limped into the postseason losing 10 of their final 11 regular-season games before falling 101-83 at Phoenix in the opening of the playoffs.

Agler replaces Taj McWilliams-Franklin as head coach. She took over on an interim basis after Fred Williams was fired with the team mired in an eight-game losing streak late in the season.

Williams guided the team almost five seasons, compiling a 71-96 regular-season record. This included two seasons in Tulsa in 2014-15 before coming to the Metroplex. His teams made the postseason three times, including this past season, losing twice in the first round and reaching the WNBA semifinals in 2015.

“I am excited and looking forward to working closely with Coach Agler,” said All-WNBA guard Skylar Diggins-Smith. “He brings a wealth of knowledge, understanding and championship leadership to Dallas. I’m confident the Wings program will continue to grow and flourish under Coach Agler.”

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Diggins-Smith is not expected to play in the 2019 season as she is expecting a child.

Agler, 60, brings more than 30 years of coaching experience to Dallas, including 12 years as a WNBA head coach. He most recently served four years as the head coach of the Los Angeles Sparks where he compiled an 85-51 overall record, four playoff appearances and the 2016 WNBA Championship.

Agler’s stint in LA also included back-to-back 28-6 seasons in 2016 and 2017 and a second appearance in the WNBA Finals following the 2017 campaign. While with the Sparks, Agler coached 2016 MVP Nneka Ogwumike, 2016 Finals MVP Candace Parker and two-time WNBA Defensive Player of the Year Alana Beard.

“I appreciate the opportunity that Greg and the entire Dallas Wings organization has provided me,” said Agler. “It is very difficult to achieve high level success in the WNBA. I want to help the team build a strong foundation of championship characteristics and traits.

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“If this can be established, then positioning for a championship can begin. I’m excited for this challenge and look forward to working with the team and the entire Wings organization.”

Prior to his stint with the Sparks, Agler spent seven seasons as head coach and general manager of the Seattle Storm, guiding that team to the playoffs in each of his first six seasons while compiling a regular season record of 136-102. In 2010, Agler was recognized as the WNBA Coach of the Year as the Storm captured the 2010 WNBA Championship.

Agler first joined the WNBA as head coach and general manager of the expansion Minnesota Lynx from 1999-2002. Following his time in Minnesota, he was an assistant with the Phoenix Mercury in 2004 before spending the 2005-07 seasons as an assistant with the San Antonio Stars.

In 1996, Agler began his career in professional basketball serving as head coach of the American Basketball League’s Columbus Quest from 1996-1999. In the team’s short stint, Agler played a prominent role, leading the team to back-to-back championships in 1997 and 1998, and was named ABL Coach of the year for the 1996-97 campaign.

In three seasons with the Quest, Agler complied a 72-18 regular season record and 10-4 mark in the postseason.

The Prospect, Ohio native spent 15 seasons coaching in the collegiate ranks, including 13 seasons as a head coach. He posted a collegiate record of 248-135.

From 1993-96 he served as the head women’s basketball coach at Kansas State. In 1988, Agler took over as the head women’s coach at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. In five seasons at UMKC, he was 85-54 and took the Kangaroos from a 9-16 record in 1988-89 to four straight winning seasons between 1989-90 and 1992-93.

The 60-year-old coach takes over a franchise that plays in Arlington that has some question marks — MVP runner-up Liz Cambage of Australia is undecided about returning and, as mentioned, star guard Diggins-Smith is pregnant.

The Dallas Wings also announced the team’s 2019 regular season schedule. The Wings will tip-off its fourth season, Friday, May 24, when the team travels east to face the Atlanta Dream at 6:30 pm CST. This is the first time since the franchise moved to the Dallas-Fort Worth area the team will open against an Eastern Conference opponent.

Dallas Wings fans get their first glimpse of the 2019 squad on Saturday, June 1 when the team hosts four-time WNBA Champions, the Minnesota Lynx. Tip-off is set for 7 pm CST inside College Park Center in Arlington.