Phoenix Mercury fire head coach Corey Gaines, replace him with former Grand Canyon coach Russ Pennell

Aug 8, 2013, 6:31 PM | Updated: 6:32 pm

The underachievement of the Phoenix Mercury has claimed its first victim.

Corey Gaines, who was the team’s head coach and general manager, was relieved of his duties Thursday. Former Grand Canyon University head coach Russ Pennell will take over on an interim basis.

“First and foremost, we thank Corey for his years of dedication to this franchise, its players and its fans,” said Mercury president and now interim GM Amber Cox. “Corey helped bring two championships to our organization and for that we will be forever grateful. Unfortunately, our team’s performance this season has not lived up to our expectations, and at this time, a change was necessary. Russ Pennell is a proven leader and winner, whose resume speaks to his ability to build a winning culture founded in discipline and fundamentals.”

Much was expected of the Mercury heading into the season, with number one overall pick Brittney Griner joining a team that included stars Diana Taurasi, DeWanna Bonner and Candice Dupree, but the team has struggled with injuries and consistency on the way to a 10-11 record.

Gaines’ time with the Mercury did have its high points, including a WNBA championship in 2009. The team had also led the league in scoring every year Gaines was in charge.

Gaines guided the Mercury to a 90-101 mark in his time as head coach.

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