Sparks Head Coach, Curt Miller is Thrilled to Start the Season off in “LA’s New Era”
The Los Angeles Sparks are preparing for their season opener against the Phoenix Mercury after splitting a four-game series last season.
In a season launch zoom session for WNBA coaches, Miller expressed his gratefulness to showcase the team’s new talent while welcoming Brittney Griner back to the game.
“To have an opportunity in this new era to play on national television, … play against Brittany Griner and her return which means so much to all of us and the league,” Miller stated.
This “new era” is the roster additions of two-time All-Star Dearica Hamby, 2023 10th draft pick Zia Cooke and returning All-Star Jasmine Thomas.
Miller’s main goal for this season is for the team to improve day-by-day.
The season opener takes place May 19 at the Crypto Center.
How Curt Miller’s Past Career Can Add to the Success of LA
From 2001-2012, Miller served as head coach for Bowling Green State University. For nine consecutive seasons, Miller led them to 20-plus wins and eight championships in a row.
While at Indiana State University from 2012-2014, his second year, the team tied the school record for most wins in school history.
Miller spent the 2015 WNBA season alongside Brian Agler as his assistant. Miller recognizes this as the opportunity that contributed to his success following his collegiate-level career.
“If I don’t have the 6 months as an assistant coach in this league, regardless of my success at the collegiate level, I would not be as successful or current coach in the WNBA. That six months under Brian Agler, learning the pro game was instrumental um in allowing me to have success in this league and learning the league. If I would’ve come directly as a head coach collegiately to the pro game, I would not have been prepared for the difference,” Miller said.
In 2016 he took on as head coach for the Connecticut Sun. After one year, the team went to the playoffs six straight seasons, with the last four in the semi-finals or finals.
After seven seasons with the Sun, winning WNBA Coach of the Year twice and Executive of the Year once, Miller was elected as head coach for the LA Sparks.
Miller plans on “rebuilding” the Sparks’ brand through culture creation with high-character players and a mindset that redefines success.
For the Sparks, Miller indicated that not getting ahead of themselves, talking about the playoffs, and winning the day by way of effort will be success for the Sparks.
Miller said that he is excited about his team and the journey that they are taking. He wants to build something within the team that is not only special but sustainable.
What Zia Cooke Can Bring to the WNBA
April 10, the Sparks drafted Zia Cooke. According to Miller, Cooke has already shown a significant contribution to the team within the first two weeks of being in the league.
“In the exhibition game she’s guarded Diana Taurasi and Jewell Loyd,” Miller said.
ESPN rated Cooke a five-star recruit; she also earned a McDonald’s All-American honors during her high school career.
From there, she went on to play for the South Carolina Gamecocks where she was able to lead them to the Final Fours of the NCAA tournaments for three years straight from 2021-2023.
Throughout the 2022-2023 season, Cooke averaged 1.5 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 15.6 points.
While playing for South Carolina, Cooke’s head coach was six-time SEC Coach of the Year, Dawn Staley.
Staley has transformed the game of ball for the Gamecocks, leading them to national championships, NCCA Final Fours and WNBA No.1 Draft picks – to name a few.
Staley watched Cooke transform into the leading scorer on her team.
Both former Coach Staley and current Coach Miller have recognized Cooke’s ability to be a two-way player.
“…we love her competing,” Miller said, “She’s shown flashes on both sides of the ball.”
Miller acknowledges that Cooke has great gratitude and appreciation for the opportunity to play for the Sparks. He says that she will be able to contribute this love for the game to the success of the team this season.