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Here's the scoop on the Liberty's and Sun's game Thursday.
The last place Connecticut Sun lost at home to the New York Liberty last night. As playoff dreams fade, the team talks about finishing strong.
Just the Facts, Ma'am: The New York Liberty took a critical win on the road, knocking off Connecticut 74-66. Plenette Pierson led New York with 18 points, with Cappie Pondexter adding 14 and Katie Smith 13. Kelsey Griffin notched a double-double for the Sun, with game highs of 22 points and 10 rebounds. Tina Charles added 18 points and nine rebounds for the short-handed Sun.
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10 links to get you ready for a four-game Friday or the offseason, depending on where your favorite team stands.
Reigning MVP Tina Charles was bested by Sylvia Fowles as the first place Chicago Sky cruised to a 77-61 blowout win in Connecticut.
Just the Facts, Ma'am: Another sterling performance from Tina Charles wasn't enough for the Connecticut Sun to pull out a comeback win, losing 74-72 to the Los Angeles Sparks. Charles had 25 points and 13 rebounds in the loss. Allison Hightower added 12 points, seven as part of a fourth-quarter surge. Kristi Toliver led four Sparks in double figures with 19 points, adding nine rebounds; Nneka Ogwumike had nine boards as well, to go with 15 points.
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Kristi Toliver scored 19 points, nine of them in the fourth quarter, to help the Los Angeles Sparks beat the Connecticut Sun 74-72 in Connecticut on Tuesday night.
Down by 16 in the third quarter, the Connecticut Sun came back to beat the Indiana Fever by six while playing the same five players for the majority of the fourth quarter.
Atlanta set a franchise record for fewest points allowed in a half against the visiting Connecticut Sun on the way to a 74-65 victory. The win stretches Atlanta's regular-season home game win streak to 13 games.
Just the Facts, Ma'am: Allison Hightower had 23 points, and Tina Charles notched a 20/10 double-double to help Connecticut stave off San Antonio, 86-84. Kara Lawson had 14 points off the bench in her return to action. Jia Perkins had 23 points to lead a San Antonio team that put six scorers in double figures.
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Mistie Bass scores 12 points off the bench to help the Connecticut Sun hold off the San Antonio Silver Stars at Mohegan Sun Arena.
Despite Kara Lawson returning and 29 points from Tina Charles, Elena Delle Donne and Sky dominate in road win.
Just the Facts, Ma'am: The Phoenix Mercury held the Connecticut Sun to 26.9% shooting from the field, though they gave up 43 free throw attempts, in a 89-70 win on the road. DeWanna Bonner and Diana Taurasi each had 19 points to pace Phoenix, with Bonner adding eight rebounds and Taurasi adding five assists. Tina Charles led the Sun with game-highs of 25 points (3-18 from the field, 19-24 from the line) and 13 rebounds.
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Reigning MVP Tina Charles out-muscles rookie sensation Brittney Griner, but Diana Taurasi, DeWanna Bonner and Candice Dupree lead Mercury to road win in Connecticut.
Despite injuries to three key players, Connecticut overcame a 15-point deficit to take a final minute lead on Atlanta, but Angel McCoughtry scored 34 points to lead the Dream to their seventh win.
The Tulsa Shock announced the trade of forward Kayla Pedersen to the Connecticut Sun shortly after their 83-74 win today. The Sun have waived Ashley Walker to accommodate the move.
Just the Facts, Ma'am: Four Storm players scored in double figures as Seattle notched a much-needed 78-66 win in Connecticut. Tina Thompson led the Storm with 17 points, with Shekinna Stricklen adding 16 off the bench and Camille Little just missing a double-double with 15 points and nine rebounds. Allison Hightower's 17 points paced Connecticut, while Tina Charles had 15 points and a team-high six rebounds.
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Thompson scores 17 points, four Seattle players hit double-figures, and Connecticut was unable to gain any momentum as Storm defeat Sun 78-66.
Off to slow starts in their respective seasons, Connecticut and Seattle both need a win as Tina Thompson continues her final trip around the league.
The Connecticut Sun have announced the release of Natasha Lacy and the signings of Iziane Castro Marques and Sydney Carter. There's not much more to say about Castro Marques than what was said late last season when the Washington Mystics signed her, but that does lead to one useless piece of trivia: this marks the second consecutive season that Lacy has been released by a team that signed Castro Marques instead.
Former Sun coach Mike Thibault lead Washington to a road win over injury ravaged Sun
Sun roster depleted after injuries to Renee Montgomery, Tan White.
A lot of good stuff on Mike Thibault as he faces his old team tomorrow at the Casino.
Just the Facts, Ma'am: A strong third quarter and lights-out shooting from Kara Lawson propelled the Connecticut Sun to an 81-69 win in their season opener against the New York Liberty. Lawson had 23 points on 9-15 shooting, including five threes. Tina Charles notched a double-double with 19 points and 13 rebounds. For the visiting Liberty, Cappie Pondexter had 23 points.
For road trips, the falling rain, no-look passes, music theft, unconscious shooting, unconscionable defense, classy Bruins fans, and a slightly lost Katie Smith, join your intrepid and wearied blogger after the jump.
The Anne Donovan Era started off on the right note as Kara Lawson scored 23 and Tina Charles added 19 points and 13 boards. For the Liberty, Cappie Pondexter led the way with 23 points and four assists and Essence Carson added 14 more points.
In terms of the rookie stats for the Libs, Toni Young got the start but only played 12 minutes, and scored 2 points on 1-5 shooting. Kelsey Bone played 24 minutes off the bench and had a good first game with 10 points and 8 rebounds. For the Sun, Kelly Faris played just shy of 8 minutes and had one rebound and one block.
At first glance what I think may have been in the factor for the Sun winning was that it made 10 of 26 threes on the night, including five threes by Lawson. New York only made 5 of 10, which is a higher percentage, but they took fewer threes. The other notable stat disparity is turnovers where NY had 18 total, and CT had 13 total.
A statistical preview of the Connecticut Sun based on the season preview framework described in our primer the other day. For those not interested in all these words, the tl;dr version is essentially the first section of 2012 review and the last section titled "key question". For a look at their major offsesaon moves, check out their offseason storystream.
Always sad to see players cut, but as a Pac-12 fan it's nice to see Ashley Walker find her way back onto a WNBA roster.
For more on the Sun, check out our offseason storystream.
Just the Facts, Ma'am: The New York Liberty took over the game in the third quarter and beat the Connecticut Sun 78-67. New York committed 21 turnovers, but shot 51.6% from the field. The Liberty were led by 14 points from Cappie Pondexter, while rookie post Kelsey Bone added 12 points and six rebounds off the bench. Ashley Walker was the only Connecticut player in double figures, with 12 points.
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From looking only at box scores, Cappie Pondexter led the way for the Libs, scoring 14 points on 6-9 shooting along with six rebounds and four assists. Essence Carson and Kelsey Bone also scored in double figures. In addition, Bone played 27 minutes in the game off the bench, and Toni Young earned the start, but she played a little under 16 minutes for the game. A 26-15 third quarter was the turning point in the Liberty's favor for the game.
For the Sun, no single player played over 25 minutes, with Tina Charles playing those minutes. She had 8 points, 5 rebounds, as well as two assists and steals. Ashley Walker, who was on the Mystics' preseason roster last year, and also a California Golden Bear alumna (just had to point that out for our fellow Bear fans :) ) was the leading scorer for the contest where she scored 12 points on 5-9 shooting, and made two of five three point shots.
The Sun's lone rookie, Kelly Faris played the least of the players on the roster with under 5 minutes of action and had one assist. She had a foot injury earlier during training camp so that may have been why, but if she's only earning a spot in Trudi Lacey's mentor's doghouse, we may have to start a new campaign for... you know. :)
And that's if she makes it that far... After all, the Sun didn't waste time cutting its 2nd and 3rd round picks soon after training camps began.
But in seriousness, I do want to see Kelly Faris play and make an impact even on a team that looks pretty set like the Connecticut Sun, and hopefully we'll get to see that when the regular season comes around.
From the Sun's Twitter account, the team has waiver Anna Prins and Andrea Smith:
Anna Prins and Andrea Smith have been waived. TheSun now have 14 players on their roster following these transactions.— ConnecticutSun (@ConnecticutSun) May 8, 2013
Obviously it's early right now in camp but even I'm a little surprised that some players have been cut already this soon before a preseason game at least.
H/T to Shannon for noting this.
Last week St. Joseph's Hawks star Chatilla van Grinsven signed with the Connecticut Sun after being named Big 5 Player of the Year. Swish Appeal had the opportunity to follow-up with van Grinsven on a special senior season, the Connecticut Sun, and preparing for the next step in her basketball career.
6-foot-7 Iowa State center Anna Prins didn't have the type of statistics that immediately strike you as a successful draft prospect - she wasn't on my draft board - but new Connecticut Sun coach Anne Donovan sees a potential role for her in the WNBA, as reported by Elwood K. Shelton of the Bloomfield Enterprise.
Prins' scoring versatility and size both caught Ann Donovan's attention. The Sun coach believes the rookie has the potential to play a complementary role alongside one of the WNBA's top low-post players -- Tina Charles. But Prins has to prove herself in a couple of areas when she reports in early May for training camp to make the cut for the Sun's final roster of 11.
"For sure the physicality and pace of the league are some of the major adjustments players have to make," Donovan said. "And they are two question marks for Anna and how quickly she can work into them."
To Donovan's point, Prins was a career 33.8% 3-point shooter at ISU with her senior year percentage of 28.1% being a career-low. But to the other part of her comments above, that issue of pace and physicality also played out in her stats: at 6-foot-7, a block percentage of just 2.5% and a free throw rate of just 22.85% aren't very good signs for WNBA success.
With the penultimate pick in the draft, the Connecticut Sun selected Andrea Smith of University of South Florida.
We haven't said much about her but she's Andrell Smith's twin and I wrote this about both of them shortly after the Elite Eight: "I'm not grouping these two players together solely because they're twins - they happen to fit a similar profile as draft prospects too. Both players are high-volume, low-efficiency shooters - both have usage rates over 27% and 2-point percentages under 42%."
Wows: Anna Prins is a big who could stretch the floor a bit as a 28.1% 3-point shooter.
Wonders: She has a slender build so it will be interesting to see how she competes with the more physical players of the WNBA.
Worries: Prins wasn't on our draft lists because she's not a particularly efficient scorer overall and didn't rebound for a player so tall.
Wows: Faris went from an extremely low usage player who was on the border of being a strong prospect to an astronomically high efficiency player who knows how to navigate space, knock down threes, and set up teammates. And defensively she was responsible for helping to shut down Notre Dame's perimeter players in the Final Four.
Wonders: The only real question is whether she'll have a bigger immediate impact on defense or offense as she makes the transition to the league. She has all the tools to be a player right away.
Also, how many UConn players does this team really need?
Worries: Does it matter that she's still such a low usage player? No player with a usage rate as low as hers has really made an impact in the league since the change to 11-player rosters so it will be interesting to see how that plays out.
According to Mike DiMauro of The Day, in addition to our aforementioned piece that Asjha Jones would be out for the 2013 season, Connecticut Sun guard/forward Danielle McCray suffered an injury on her overseas team in Italy, Famila Schio. She will have an MRI today, according to Sun VP/GM Chris Sienko. She may have to sit out this season as well. In regards to Jones, the article notes that Asjha Jones will not take a roster spot this year.
In addition, there is a chance that French Olympic team member Sandrine Gruda may play for the Sun later this summer, but it won't be until after June 30 when the European championships end.
H/T to jimhu for the link.
Today the Connecticut Sun announced that forward Asjha Jones will sit out the 2013 season due to nagging injuries. The injuries come from a strained Achilles tendon that she suffered last season which caused her to miss 14 games in the 2012 season.
Yesterday, the Connecticut Sun named Catherine Proto as an assistant coach to Anne Donovan's staff for the 2013 season. Proto was one of Donovan's assistants at Seton Hall, and before spent seven years with the New York Liberty for scouting and video operations. Former Washington Mystics Assistant Coach Jennifer Gillom is the other assistant on the team.
Proto gave a statement through the team saying,"I am very excited to be joining the Connecticut Sun organization. I look forward to continuing the winning tradition in Connecticut and working alongside coach Anne Donovan again this season." In addition, Coach Donovan said, "I have had the pleasure of working with Catherine for the last five years in both the WNBA and at Seton Hall. Catherine has a great basketball mind. Her seven years of experience with the New York Liberty will be a tremendous asset to our staff.”
The 2012 Connecticut Sun had a 25-9 regular season record and reached the Eastern Conference Finals, led by a young duo in center Tina Charles who was the league MVP, and guard Renee Montgomery who was the league's Sixth Woman of the Year. The Sun also had veteran leadership from Asjha Jones and Kara Lawson who also provided valuable contributions to the team. After the season, the Sun fired head coach Mike Thibault primarily because he was unable to lead the team to the championship, and replaced him with Anne Donovan in early January. What personnel moves will GM Chris Sienko and Coach Donovan make for the team in 2013?
The signings continue to roll in. Earlier today, the Connecticut Sun re-signed guard Renee Montgomery to a three year contract. Montgomery was the WNBA's Sixth Woman of the Year in 2012, and was also an All Star in 2011.
Today, the Connecticut Sun announced that Jennifer Gillom will join Anne Donovan's staff for the 2013 season.
Coach Gillom spent the 2012 season with the Washington Mystics and with the Team USA women's Olympic basketball team, and was an assistant on both of those teams. While Team USA won the gold medal last year in London, the Mystics had a bad season to say the least. Before getting on the Mystics, she was a head coach for the Minnesota Lynx (2009) and LA Sparks (2010-2011), and got the Sparks to the playoffs in 2010.
Coach Gillom and Coach Donovan were both players on the Team USA Olympic basketball team that won the Gold Medal in the 1988 Seoul, Korea games. As a player, Gillom played most of her early professional career in Europe, but played in the WNBA from 1997-2003 where she played on the Phoenix Mercury (1997-2002) and the Los Angeles Sparks (2003).
This move guarantees that the Mystics will not have the same two assistant coaches from 2012, where Marianne Stanley was re-hired by new head coach Mike Thibault. Coincidentally there is a coaching swap of sorts with Coach Gillom going from DC to Connecticut and Coach Thibault coming from Connecticut to DC.
Today, the Connecticut Sun announced that Anne Donovan, current women's basketball head coach at Seton Hall University, has been named the team's head coach. She replaces Mike Thibault who was also the team's only head coach since the Sun moved to Connecticut from Orlando in 2003.
The Sun tweeted this out earlier today:
We will be holding a press conference this afternoon at 3 p.m. to announce our new head coach! Watch it live: bit.ly/Vyp5Ol— ConnecticutSun (@ConnecticutSun) January 3, 2013
As we told you yesterday, it is expected that Seton Hall women's basketball head coach Anne Donovan will be the new hire.
Anne Donovan to be named new coach of the ct sun per league sources #wnba— Mike DiMauro (@BCgenius) January 2, 2013
As originally tweeted by Mike DiMauro of the New London Day, Hall of Famer Anne Donovan is expected to be named coach of the Connecticut Sun. John Altavilla has followed that up with a report in the Hartford Courant.
We'll have more later, but for now an interesting observation from Kevin Pelton:
With Laimbeer and Donovan returning, I think this is the strongest the WNBA coaching ranks have ever been.— Kevin Pelton (@kpeltonWBB) January 3, 2013
What are your thoughts on the hire? Did the Sun make the right choice given their situation?
Since Mike Thibault was fired by the Connecticut Sun as its head coach, the team has been looking for his replacement. What has General Manager Chris Sienko been up to lately? And who would he like to hire?
So, there's a lot more buzz going around the WNBA at this time of year because the Washington Mystics hired Mike Thibault as their new General Manager and Head Coach. And the reviews are all positive.
Today, Monumental Sports and Entertainment announced that Mike Thibault has been named General Manager and Head Coach of the Washington Mystics. This comes after a nearly three month search to replace Trudi Lacey, his predecessor.
According to a tweet from Hartford Courant writer John Altavilla, former Connecticut Sun head coach Mike Thibault has been in contact with the Washington Mystics in regards to their vacant general manager and/or head coach positions.
Should he be hired to the Mystics' front office, this could inject some hope for some fans.
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