Washington Mystics point guard Kristi Toliver, less than two weeks removed from her team’s loss in the WNBA Finals, has returned to the court to continue her coaching education with the Wizards.
As Washington holds training camp inside the newly opened MedStar Wizards Performance Center, Toliver will assist the coaching staff in myriad duties that include participating in film study and player development. The position is a reprisal of her role with the Wizards' summer league team in July, when Toliver flew to Las Vegas between Mystics games to work as an assistant for one matchup.
“It’s great to have her on the staff,” Wizards Coach Scott Brooks said. “When I met with her in Las Vegas, I told her I’ve been following her for two years now.”
This apprenticeship with the Wizards aligns with Toliver’s vision for her post-playing days. Toliver, 31, has expressed the goal of becoming a coach in the NBA, following the paths of notable women in the game such as Nancy Lieberman and Becky Hammon.
After the Wizards' first session Tuesday afternoon, Toliver could be seen rebounding for players — a common post-practice role for assistant coaches. Behind the scenes, however, Brooks alluded to Toliver having a greater influence.
“I like her IQ. I like to be challenged. I like to be around coaches that think the game,” Brooks said. “I know I’m a little biased from a point guard standpoint. Point guards, they see the game different because the game is in front of them. She adds value to this staff. She adds value to our players and she can make free throws, like she did at the end of practice. That was good to see. I just like her. She has a way about her.”
Still, Brooks, a former point guard who spent about a decade in the league, would advise Toliver not to quit her day job just yet. When it comes to the joy of playing and the agony of coaching, there’s no comparison, Brooks said.
“She should play. I told her: Keep playing — that’s the best job in the world. This coaching thing, I don’t know about it, or what you’re thinking,” Brooks joked, “She should play as long as she can, but she’s definitely going to be destined for greatness as a coach.”
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