Thibault advises, evaluates

When describing or talking about Mike Thibault, the guest instructor at the 5th Annual Marquette Women's Basketball Coaching Clinic, women's basketball head coach Terri Mitchell used words like "great" and "amazing."

She was lauding Thibault for his ability to convey principles of the fast break to the group of high school coaches in attendance, but the adjectives could also be used to describe his basketball resume.

In his second year as head coach of the WNBA's Connecticut Sun he led the team to the league finals and was named WNBA.com Coach-of-the-Year.

Prior to coaching the Sun he was an assistant with the Milwaukee Bucks organization for four seasons.

Thibault began working in the NBA as a scout for the Los Angeles Lakers in 1978. In 1980 he was promoted to director of scouting. That year and again in 1982 the Lakers won two World Championships.

The following season Thibault joined the Chicago Bulls as an assistant coach and director of scouting. He remained in the Windy City until 1986 and during that time the Bulls drafted Michael Jordan and Charles Oakley and acquired John Paxson.

After conducting the coaching clinic Thibault sat down with the Tribune and answered a couple questions about the women's basketball team.

Tribune: What do you hope the team learns from you?

Thibault: That the stuff they hear on their level is the same stuff pro coaches are teaching their players. It's the same fundamentals. The game doesn't change in that regard. Daily improvement is important at every level.

Tribune: What players were you impressed with?

Thibault: I didn't know a couple of them real well. I've seen some of the young players play once or twice … Q (sophomore forward Christina Quaye) and DK (sophomore forward Danielle Kamm) and E (junior forward Efueko Osagie) and all of those players have improved.

(Junior point guard) Carolyn (Kieger) has always been a good leader as a point guard, but she's matured a lot in the last year.

I think that E has a chance to be a pro player if she keeps working on her skills … Q keeps getting better, she's strong. I hadn't ever seen (sophomore forward) Jasmine (McCullough) play before. I think (senior forward) Lesley (Juedes) might be one of the most improved players on the team in the last year.

Tribune: You've seen them play before?

Thibault: Oh yeah, I've seen them, when I was here with the (Milwaukee) Bucks. The oldest group kind of came in as youngsters when I was here so it's nice to watch them grow up, mature as players and as people.

Tribune: How does your point guard, Lindsey Whalen, compare with Kieger?

Thibault: They're different a little bit because Lindsey's bigger, more physical. Her size helps her make some plays. Carolyn might be a little better shooter from the perimeter right now, but Lindsay is improving. Lindsey just has a vision that's special. She's an elite point guard in that regard. Carolyn still has some growing to do.