The Connecticut Sun opened its 2019 WNBA preseason at the Mohegan Sun Arena in style, crushing the New York Liberty 100-66. Despite trading Chiney Ogwumike to the Los Angeles Sparks, the Sun seemed to pick up where the team left off last season. Jonquel Jones led Connecticut in scoring, with 19 points; she also recorded 4 rebounds and 2 assists on the night while shooting 7-of-13 (53 percent) from the field.
New York’s story was different, however, as only two starters scored in double digits. But the game was close until the end of the second quarter. The Liberty started to go cold just as Connecticut’s defense clamped down.
Here are the top three takeaways from the Liberty-Sun preseason matchup:
Asia Durr’s struggles continue.
Asia Durr made her WNBA debut last week against the China National Team and finished with 6 points, 3 rebounds and 1 assist. In her second game as a professional, she played 19 minutes and was scoreless after attempting three shots.
Although Durr was held scoreless, fans should not be concerned. It’s only the preseason and teams have not had much time to practice yet. Yes, Durr was drafted with the No. 2 overall pick, but she will rebound and be ready once the regular season starts.
The Liberty and head coach Katie Smith are still trying to figure out lineups that work. Finding that core should improve the team’s shooting. Last night, the Liberty missed 43 shots on the way to a 36.8 percent shooting percentage from the floor.
As the season progresses Durr will get more reps in practice, start to settle in and gain a solid rhythm. She has started the last two preseason games at the shooting guard position.
Jonquel Jones steps up.
Just before the start of the WNBA preseason, the Connecticut Sun traded Chiney Ogwumike. Although the move could cause problems for the franchise later on, after last night’s game, Sun fans should feel confident about Jonquel Jones’s ability to hold things down.
Jones was drafted by the Sun in 2016 and, therefore, is still a relatively young player. Last night she finished with 19 points and 4-of-8 shooting from three-point range. In 2018, Jones averaged 11.3 points per game. If Jones’s production maintains this pace, Connecticut should be in solid position for a strong season.
Jones could be an upcoming star in the league. Last season, she won Sixth Woman of the Year and it’s safe to say she will only have more opportunities to improve this season with Ogwumike in Los Angeles.
Kia Nurse is here to stay.
With the 10th pick in the 2018 WNBA Draft, the Liberty selected Kia Nurse out of Connecticut. In her 2018 rookie campaign, Nurse played all 34 games and started seven of them.
Nurse played relatively well in the first preseason game against the China National Team and she followed with a solid performance against the Sun last night. During the second preseason game on the road, Nurse scored 10 points and shot 57.1 percent from the field.
During her rookie season, Nurse played multiple positions to help balance the lineup. If last night’s game is any indication, it’s clear Nurse is ready to take on any position to help this team win. Not to mention, she provides another level of energy which can spark the team on both ends of the floor.
Nurse can and will develop into a solid two-way player in the WNBA. Her size allows her to take advantage of smaller defenders; she also can guard multiple positions on the defensive side of the ball. Right now, the Liberty are trying to find the perfect roster and rotation balance before going into the regular season. So far, the Liberty have a lot of upside with its mixture of drafted talented and returning players.