The Seattle Storm has announced that head coach Dan Hughes will sit out the 2020 WNBA season set to tip-off later this month in Florida due to COVID-19 concerns.
The league in conjunction with his primary physician determined he could be considered a high-risk individual for severe illness related to the virus and should sit out the season for his safety. This isn't too much of a surprise as Hughes had successful surgery in May 2019 to remove a cancerous tumor in his digestive tract.
“I am saddened that I won’t be able to travel with the team as everyone knows how much love I have for this organization. I am thankful to be in good health and looking forward to supporting Coach Klopp and the staff and players in any way I can this season,” Hughes said.
“While the Storm family is greatly disappointed that Dan will not be able to join the team this season, his health and family are the top priority. We know he will continue to be an important voice of support for the team and staff while we compete this season,” said Alisha Valavanis, CEO and General Manager of the Storm.
Longtime Storm assistant and former interim-head coach Gary Kloppenburg will serve as head coach for the 2020 WNBA season. He first worked for the Storm as an assistant from 2000-2002, before returning in 2017 which included filling in as interim head coach following the firing of Jenny Boucek in 2017 and once again in 2019 during Hughes’s recovery from cancer surgery.
“Klopp is a veteran coach in this league and within our organization. His defensive background as well as his presence as a seasoned head coach position us well to compete for a championship,” Valavanis said.
In 8 games coached in 2017, the Storm went 5-3 under Kloppenburg.
The franchise also announced the promotion of 12-year WNBA veteran Noelle Quinn, who retired following the 2018 season and joined the Storm's coaching staff in 2019, to associate head coach.
“Noey is an up-and-coming star in the WNBA coaching ranks. Her knowledge of the game and feel for the players’ experience make her a natural fit for our coaching staff. We are excited for her promotion and for the additional responsibility she will assume,” added Valavanis.
The Storm finished the 2019 season with an 18-16 record, good for the sixth seed in the league, while clinching a playoff berth and the ability to host a first-round playoff game.
Seattle would beat the Minnesota Lynx 84-74, before losing 92-69 at the Los Angeles Sparks in the second round. It was considered a successful season after All-Stars Breanna Stewart and Sue Bird both suffered season-ending injuries before the season.