Sun Center Tina Charles will have a new coach who hopes to guide her along to her first league championship this year. - Mark L. Baer-US PRESSWIRE
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?
As currently constructed, I think the Sun has a good shot at winning a championship so in general, I don't think they have to make drastic changes to a young roster that is complemented with strong veterans such as the aforementioned Jones and Lawson. Still, here are some things that the Sun would likely be considering and this is considering yesterday's re-signing of Renee Montgomery:
1. Coach Donovan should tweak the team defense.
This is more of a strategy when we actually get to the season, but re-signing Montgomery was my original number one priority. The Sun was fourth in the league in scoring and led in the East in that category, but in offensive vs. defensive field goal percentage, Connecticut made 43.1% of its shots while opponents made 43% of theirs. This area needs to improve if the Sun wants to make the Finals and win the WNBA championship consistently. One possible reason why the Sun may have ended up scoring 4 points more on average than opponents is because the Sun led in free throw percentage, and also made 549-664 of its free throws while opponents only made 404-542 of theirs in the 2012 regular season.
This trend wasn't limited to just the 2012 season. The Sun had a similar trend in 2011 where the Sun won its games by an average of a little more than three points, made and attempted a considerably higher number of free throws than opponents, but actually had a lower offensive than defensive field goal percentage that year. Either way, the defensive field goal percentage performance has to improve.
2. Acquire some true wing players between the 5'11" and 6'1" range.
For a team like Connecticut which is built to win a WNBA championship, being a bit nit picky about selecting players just to combat a specific player on another contending team is something that they can afford to do. One possible weakness on this team is the guards are all listed between 5'7" and 5'10" and all the post players are listed from 6'2" on up. The only player who is a swingman (guard-forward) is Danielle McCray who is listed at 5'11" and she was basically a backup rotation player. Sure the Sun has a great roster, but there really isn't enough depth at the wing or small forward position since most other teams in the league will have a decent 5'11" to 6'1" guard-forward on their rosters.
This is a bit nit picky, but again, the Sun could afford to call this an area to address and it could use some more players who are true wing players besides just McCray, and this will help even up some physical matchups.
Among remaining unrestricted free agents, players such as Svetlana Abrosimova or Iziane Castro Marques may be possible fits as an additional wing player who could fit here in Connecticut. Given that many of the players on the Sun are relatively young and that this team does have legitimate championship aspirations, adding a veteran wing player is definitely a good idea.
The Sun has a team that has a very strong chance to win the Eastern Conference for 2013 and possibly more. If Coach Donovan can continue to create positive chemistry among the existing players and tweak some of the Sun's weaker points, this team should not miss a beat from last year.