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‘Ready to shine’: Aces interim coach ready for opener in Seattle

Updated May 19, 2023 - 3:09 pm

Aces interim coach Tyler Marsh only has one goal for himself this Saturday. It’s fairly straightforward.

“Not mess it up,” he said. After a quick pause to laugh, Marsh explained what he meant.

“Try to come in, stay true to who we are and what we do on the court,” he said. “I think we’ve got a good game plan put together, but it comes down to letting our players play. We’ve been here before. They’ve been here before.

“Just kind of keeping the game easy, playing to their strengths and hopefully coming out with the win.”

Marsh will be the Aces’ interim coach at noon Saturday, when the reigning champions open their title defense against the Seattle Storm at Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle.

Following coach Becky Hammon’s two-game suspension for violating team and league workplace policies relating to the treatment of former player Dearica Hamby during her pregnancy, Marsh and fellow assistant Natalie Nakase were announced as the team’s temporary leaders.

The Aces’ head of player development, Marsh will take charge in Seattle while Nakase, the lead assistant, will be the interim coach Thursday against the Los Angeles Sparks. Any results will still count on Hammon’s official coaching record.

“I’m kind of excited for them,” Hammon said. “I think they’re both exceptional assistants. They’ve been great. I completely trust the work they’ll do, obviously, in preparing.”

Marsh joined Hammon’s staff ahead of the 2022 season. He arrived with a lengthy NBA resume, spending two seasons as a player development coach with the Indiana Pacers.

He also was an assistant video coordinator and player development coach as part of Nick Nurse’s staff when the Toronto Raptors won an NBA championship in 2019, and spent four seasons working with various organizations in the NBA’s G-League.

Since arriving in Las Vegas, Marsh has been crucial to the Aces’ player development. All-Star wing Jackie Young credited her massively improved 3-point shot to Marsh’s coaching during the 2022 WNBA Finals. Young is far from the only player on the team who’s confident in Marsh’s capabilities.

“Tyler’s been prepared for this moment,” said reigning MVP A’ja Wilson, who brought Marsh’s eight-month-old son to the postgame press conference following the Aces’ preseason game May 13. “He’s ready to shine and we trust him in that fact. We’re going to go out there and be us.”

Added first-team All-WNBA guard Kelsey Plum: “I’m excited for him. Obviously, he’s so over-prepared. I don’t think you guys get to see the work he does with us on a daily basis, but he’s definitely the man for the job.”

Marsh said his preparation and approach haven’t changed too much ahead of the season opener. WNBA coaching staffs are significantly smaller than their NBA counterparts, so Marsh, Nakase and assistant Charlene Thomas-Swinson already carry lots of responsibilities in normal circumstances.

The biggest difference for Marsh during the season opener will be the actual, in-game coaching responsibilities like making tactical adjustments and keeping track of the substitution patterns.

Marsh said he plans to lean on Nakase and Thomas-Swinson, along with the experience of the Aces’ veteran players, against the Storm. He said it “means everything” to hear the team voice their faith in him.

“For them to come out and have that kind of confidence and trust in us,” Marsh said, “I can speak for the rest of the staff that it means a great deal to us.”

Contact reporter Andy Yamashita at ayamashita@reviewjournal.com. Follow @ANYamashita on Twitter.

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