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WNBA Team Preview: Connecticut Sun (#4)

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The Connecticut Sun was the WNBA’s most improved team last year. Can they keep it up this summer?

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Chris Marion/Getty Images

The Connecticut Sun was the WNBA’s breakout team of 2017, with a 21-13 season and a trip to the WNBA Playoffs for the first time since 2012. Connecticut did so under the play of Most Improved Player of the Year Jonquel Jones as well as All-Star guard Jasmine Thomas and Alyssa Thomas. Though the Sun lost its only playoff game to the Phoenix Mercury in the second round, the team’s regular-season success was more than enough to give Curt Miller the WNBA’s Coach and Executive of the Year awards.

This summer, the Sun want to maintain its winning ways, which includes advancing in the WNBA Playoffs. Could basketball fans see the Sun make a run to the Finals as soon as this summer?

What to expect

Familiar faces

The Sun returns most of its young core from the 2017 team, including Jones, Jasmine Thomas and Alyssa Thomas. Chiney Ogwumike, the first pick of the 2014 WNBA Draft, will also return after missing the 2017 season due to injury.

Notable newbies

The Sun’s top draft pick was former Duke guard Lexie Brown. Brown is a point guard like Jasmine Thomas. However, Miller also believes Brown can play the shooting guard position as well. Leticia Romero, the Sun’s 2016 second-round pick, also joined the team this season after taking last year off to play for the Spanish national team in the Olympics.

Biggest obstacles

Connecticut has a young roster that looks set for the most part. But the team still faces questions heading into this summer.

One obstacle the Sun faces is how Ogwumike bounces back from a left Achilles tendon injury she suffered in December 2016 while playing in China. Granted, the Sun played well without her in 2017, but how will Ogwumike play on the new and improved version of this roster?

Ogwumike’s rehab isn’t the only thing on her mind. She is now a full-time ESPN analyst for its NBA coverage and SportsCenter Africa. How will she juggle broadcasting with her responsibilities as a player?

Furthermore, the Sun was a poor free-throw shooting team, making only 74.2 percent of their attempts. Alyssa Thomas only shot 56.7 percent from the line while attempting 201 free throws for the season. While free-throw shooting has never been her strength, Thomas must work on her free throws given that she attempted a team-high 6.1 per game in 2017.

Game zone

Preseason opener

Sun vs. Sparks

Monday May 7 at 7 p.m. EST

Mohegan Sun Arena — Tickets

Season home opener

Sun vs. Aces

Sunday May 20 at 1 p.m. EST

Mohegan Sun Arena — Tickets