Carlos Knox, who took over the WNBA's Indiana Fever when Marianne Stanley was fired Wednesday, got a victory in his first game as head coach Friday in Indianapolis.
Indiana beat Los Angeles 101-96, as No. 2 draft pick NaLyssa Smith, who missed the past four games with an ankle injury, returned and scored 17 points for the Fever. Leading the way for Indiana was Kelsey Mitchell with 22 points. Victoria Vivians also had 17 points and Danielle Robinson had 10 points and 11 assists.
The Fever had lost five games in a row and were 2-7 when Stanley was let go in her third season as Indiana's head coach.
Knox, who played collegiately at IUPUI, said it was a special night for him. The game was played at Indiana Farmers Coliseum, IUPUI's arena that has Knox's jersey in the rafters, because of ongoing renovations at the Fever's normal home, Gainbridge Fieldhouse. After the game, the Fever players surrounded Knox in a group hug.
"It was touching, it was humbling," Knox said. "Had a lot of family members here, a lot of people that respect my coaching ability. I was very emotional because it felt so heartwarming."
The Fever have not made the playoffs since 2016, but Knox and the players believe the coaching change could be a reset for the team.
"No disrespect to Coach Marianne, because I love her as well," Mitchell said. "But it was good to see him step into [the role] so fast, and we responded fast." Vivians added, "He always said it was his dream to be a head coach on this level. I'm just ecstatic for him and for my teammates. We did it for our team and for him."