Rousseau Loses Sparks Job, Woolridge Set for Promotion


The Los Angeles Sparks will announce today that Julie Rousseau, the team’s 32-year-old coach, has been fired.

Assistant coach Orlando Woolridge, a 13-season NBA veteran, is expected to be named the WNBA team’s interim coach, the team’s third in just over a year. The Sparks play Phoenix tonight at the Forum.

Spark President Johnnie Buss made the decision Thursday night, after meeting with Rousseau all afternoon at the Great Western Forum, shortly after the team returned from an Eastern trip.

The Sparks are 7-13, and even with a victory at Washington Wednesday, have lost four of their last six.


Rousseau became the team’s interim coach last summer when Linda Sharp was dismissed after a 4-7 start. The Sparks rallied under Rousseau, missing a playoff berth on the regular season’s final day. The team finished 14-14.

She was rewarded with a one-year contract, but misfortune began early this season.

Top draft pick Allison Feaster broke her right foot in the season’s fifth game and is probably out for the season. Haixia Zheng, the club’s 6-8 center from China, had knee surgery July 2.

“I considered everything, and it came down to the direction the team was headed,” Buss said Thursday night. “I saw a diminished enthusiasm and a certain lack of confidence beginning to set in with our principal players, Lisa Leslie, Tamecka Dixon and Penny Toler.”


Rousseau said she was disappointed, not angry.

“I’m grateful that the Busses gave me this opportunity,” she said.

“Life doesn’t end here--I’ll move on and see what the good Lord has in store for me.”



Houston 88, Utah 65--Cynthia Cooper had 22 points and a career-high 10 assists before 12,004 at Houston as the Comets (20-1) clinched a playoff berth by winning their 15th consecutive game.

Charlotte 79, Cleveland 64--Rhonda Mapp scored 20 points as the Sting (15-7) defeated the Rockers at Charlotte, N.C.