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Wednesday, November 7, 2007
Mercury promote ex-Westhead assistant Gaines to coach

Associated Press

PHOENIX -- The WNBA champion Phoenix Mercury promoted assistant coach Corey Gaines to head coach Wednesday.

Gaines replaces Paul Westhead, who recommended him for the job after leaving to join the Seattle SuperSonics in September.

"We are of the opinion that stability wins championships," Mercury general manager Ann Meyers Drysdale said. "Hiring Corey is another step toward the long-term success of this franchise."

The 42-year-old Gaines has been a disciple of Westhead's run-and-gun style since he played point guard for him at Loyola Marymount in 1986-87. Gaines pledged to make few changes in a team coming off its first championship.

"It's a running style," he said. "It's not going to change. When you're open, you shoot. It gets no simpler than that."

That came as welcome news to star guard Diana Taurasi, who attended the U.S. Airways Center news conference.

"The decision to have Corey come in as our coach, I think, is brilliant," Taurasi said.

Taurasi is in Phoenix with the U.S. national team, which meets Arizona State in an exhibition game Thursday night at Wells Fargo Arena.

Meyers Drysdale said several coaches with NBA ties had expressed interest in the job. She looked at other candidates before deciding, after interviewing the players, that the best one was in the organization. Gaines spent the last two years with the Mercury as Westhead's top aide.

"A lot of people thought it was a no-brainer," Meyers Drysdale said. "There's never been any doubt in my mind as to what he can do."

Gaines was drafted by Seattle in the third round in 1988. He spent five seasons with five NBA teams and played in the 1994 NBA Finals with the New York Knicks. Gaines also played 12 years internationally.