After missing the playoffs last season for only the fourth time in 15 years, the Sparks made a coaching change, hiring Carol Ross to replace Joe Bryant, the team announced Thursday.
Ross was an assistant with Atlanta for three years, helping the Dream to the WNBA Finals the last two seasons.
The Sparks finished with a record of 15-19 last season, when Bryant replaced Jennifer Gillom as coach after a 4-6 start. Bryant's contract expired at the end of the season.
"It hurts when you underachieve, but anyone in sports knows it can happen," Sparks General Manager Penny Toler said. "I felt we were really, really talented but the chemistry was bad."
So she chose Ross, who is known as a defense-minded coach who relates well with players.
"She knows how to get good players and strong personalities to play together as a team," Toler said.
Before Ross moved to the WNBA ranks, she had stints as the head coach at Florida (1990-2002) and Mississippi (2003-2007), where she had a combined record of 324-161 with 12 NCAA tournament appearances and two WNIT berths.