Connecticut Sun head coach Anne Donovan has announced former Chicago Sky head coach Steven Key will join her staff as an assistant in 2014.
“Steven will be a tremendous addition to our staff,” Donovan said. “His vast coaching experience both in the WNBA and abroad will be a great asset to our team. His successful and extensive playing career will also aide in the continued development of our players.”
Key will join assistant Jen Gillom on Donovan’s staff. Catherine Proto, a Sun assistant coach in 2013, will now oversee all video editing and scouting duties while also working with players during practice.
“I am truly thankful that someone with Coach Donovan’s experience and respect in the coaching world has asked me to join her staff,” Key said. “After speaking with her, I knew right away she is someone who knows what she wants and how to achieve it. I look forward to helping her and the rest of the staff in having a successful season.”
A former point guard for Boston University, where he was named North Atlantic Conference Player of the Year in 1990, Key was the head coach of the Sky from 2008-2010. Chicago was 42-60 in that span, and Key’s 2009 team won what was then a franchise record 16 games.
Key played for the San Jose Jammers in the CBA from 1990-91, and then enjoyed a 12-year professional playing career overseas, competing in Austria, Germany, Australia and France. Key also coached overseas, and had just completed his tenure as the head coach at Ludwigsburg when he was contacted by Donovan.
“I feel honored to join a proud and respected WNBA franchise such as the Connecticut Sun,” Key said. “The front office and management are a big reason for the team’s continual success. Connecticut fans make playing on the road for other teams extremely hard, because they are very understanding, dedicated and appreciative of the game. They know how to give the team an extra push when needed. I know we will have a very successful summer with their unwavering support.”
The Connecticut Sun open their 12th WNBA season with a home game at Mohegan Sun Arena against the New York Liberty on May 16 at 7 p.m. The Sun play just two home regular season games in May – the second is against Sue Bird and the Seattle Storm at 7 p.m. on May 23 – and 10 of the 17 regular season home games will be played on Friday, Saturday or Sunday.
“We are pleased to be able to finally provide a schedule to our fans who have been waiting patiently,” Connecticut Sun Vice President and General Manager Chris Sienko said. “Now that the ownership situation in Los Angeles has been resolved with yesterday’s exciting announcement, we look forward to the upcoming season, which really begins for us when we make the first pick in the 2014 WNBA Draft.”
Geno Auriemma coaches his 1,000th game at UConn on Feb. 22 at Houston. To commemorate the milestone, the Hartford Courant will occasionally publish a memory or remembrance of the Hall of Fame coach from someone who helped play a role in his journey.
The following is from the great Tina Charles, one of the cogs on UConn’s back-to-back undefeated national champions in 2009 and 2010.. Charles has developed into an Olympic gold medalist and a WNBA Rookie of the Year MVP with the Connecticut Sun:
“My junior Year, Coach Auriemma told me in his office that when you chase perfection you will catch excellence and that has stuck with me on and off the court,” Charles said. “Coach Auriemma and his career is a living testament of that and his players are able to benefit from his approach to basketball and off the court endeavors.
“He is able to enlighten everyone around him and impact them in a way that is profound. Congratulations Coach. God willing, you will be able to have 1,000 more games. It has been a blessing to have been coached by you.”
Kelsey Griffin of the Connecticut Sun will be honored by Nebraska with the retirement of her No. 23 jersey on Wednesday when the Huskers take on Michigan at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
Griffin’s number will continue to be worn by current Husker junior Emily Cady.
Griffin joins 1993 Wade Trophy Winner and CoSIDA Academic All-America Hall of Famer Karen Jennings (No. 51) and 1988 Big Eight Player-of-the-Year Maurtice Ivy (No. 30) among Nebraska’s retired jersey honorees.
Griffin, in her second season with the Bendigo Spirit in Australia, told the school’s website she was “blown away” by the news that her jersey was being retired.
Connecticut Sun forward Asjha Jones suffered a torn left Achilles tendon last week while playing for her Russian professional league team, Spartak.
Jones, 33, did not play in the WNBA last season after telling the Sun she wanted to rest nagging aches and pains. And now she obviously will not play this season, making it even more likely Connecticut will use the first pick in the 2014 WNBA Draft on Stanford senior Chiney Ogwumike, a mobile 6-3 post.
“It does make it easier for us to move forward [with plans],” Sun GM Chris Sienko said. “But this is very upsetting. We don’t wish this type of injury on anyone, especially to someone like Asjha who has taken so long to try and be well enough to play at full strength again. It’s frustrating for Asjha and certainly unfair.
“But now, there is nothing for us to do than move forward. There’s no need to hold onto the roster spot in hopes she would be back this summer.”
You’ll recall – the Connecticut Sun certainly do – that veteran forward Asjha Jones decided not to play in the WNBA in 2013 in order to nurse injuries and prepare for her winter season in Russia. There was speculation, and I certainly include myself in that group, that her decision was impacted by the team’s decision to fire Mike Thibault, a coach she admired.
Regardless, that decision helped contribute to the Sun finishing last overall in the standings and securing the No. 1 pick in the 2014 Draft through last week’s lottery.
As of last week, Jones had not told the Sun, according to Sun GM Chris Sienko, if she was planning to returning this season. But now, that is a moot point.
A WNBA source tells the Courant that Jones tore her Achilles tendon and is returning to the states to have surgery, She obviously will not play this summer.
Here is a Euroleague story that indicates she was injured – but strangely does not mention the severity
Jones injured herself again in Russia. And she’s out for the season. Here is the story from the Euroleague website.
The Draft Lottery is done. The next collective bargaining agreement between the players and the owners is not. But in the meantime, the WNBA Board of Governors has approved six rules changes for the upcoming 2014 season.
At the forefront is the league’s decision to join the instant replay. It may now be used during the last minutes of a game or at any point in any overtime period under certain circumstances:
- When reviewing a block/charge play to determine whether the defender was inside or outside the restricted area, officials will now be permitted to reverse a charge call, or uphold a blocking call, when the defender was outside the restricted area but was not set when the offensive player began her upward shooting motion.
- To determine if a whistled goaltending or basket interference was correctly called.
- Instant replay may now also be used at any point within a game:To determine whether an off-ball foul occurred before or after a player has started her shooting motion on a successful shot attempt, or before or after the ball was released on a throw-in. To permit the officials to assess the appropriate penalties of any unsportsmanlike and unnecessary acts (e.g. flagrant fouls) that are observed during the instant replay reviews.
In addition: On clear-path-to-the-basket fouls, it will no longer be considered a clear-path foul if, at any point before the foul is committed, the defender who commits the foul is positioned ahead of the offensive player in the front court.
A team on offense will lose possession if its player leaves the floor and does not immediately return to the floor, unless she is injured, attempting to save the ball or in other extenuating circumstances.
Each of these rules was recommended by the WNBA’s Competition Committee at its meeting on Dec. 4.
There was little doubt injuries laid waste to the 2013 season for the WNBA’s Connecticut Sun, who finished with the worst record in the league (10-24) last season.
But league history shows how rapidly franchises such as Minnesota (a two-time champion) and Atlanta (a 2013 finalist) can rise from the ashes.
For the Sun, the first step in that process was a success when it secured the first pick in the 2014 Draft through draft lottery.
The Sun had the best odds to receive the first pick (44.2 percent) and most likely will use the pick, if they don’t trade it, to take Stanford forward Chiney Ogwumike, who would provide center Tina Charles and athletic sidekick in the post.
New York (11-23) received the fourth pick. The San Antonio Silver Stars (12-22) will have the third pick. And Tulsa will pick second.
“It is such a great opportunity,” Sun CEO Mitchell Etess said after the order was announced. “This is such a deep draft; so many great players. We’ll have a healthy team coming back and this is everything we could have hoped for.
“I am very happy. We are in the casino business and we know the odds don’t always work for you, but I am thrilled that did for us (Tuesday).
This lottery business is not new for the Sun. They Sun participated in the first one, November 5, 2009, and received the third pick. They did not use it. The Sun moved up to the second pick after the Sacramento Monarchs folded and then traded Lindsay Whalen and that pick to the Minnesota Lynx in exchange for Renee Montgomery and the No. 1 pick.
The Sun selected Charles, the former UConn All-American, with that pick. Charles has since won the league’s Rookie of the Year and MVP while setting rebounding and double-double records.
“Ann Donovan [the Sun coach] and Chris Sienko [the GM] will take a look and assess everything. Maybe we can make some move. But there clearly as players in this draft who can help us with what we need. Add that to what we have and things are looking good for Connecticut.”
The Connecticut Sun, who finished with the worst record in the WNBA last season, will see how much their misery was worth on Dec. 10 when the Draft Lottery is held in Secaucus, N.J., at the interesting time of 4:30 p.m.
It will be televised live on ESPN during SportsCenter.
The Sun (10-24) have the best odds to receive the first pick in the 2014 WNBA Draft at 44.2 percent.
The Connecticut Sun has announced it will offer two special holiday ticket packages. These packages will go on sale at 10 a.m. on Cyber Monday, December 2nd – while supplies last.
Package one includes four upper level vouchers for the 2014 season and is priced at $120. Package two includes four lower level vouchers for the 2014 season and is $140.
Both packages are a $24 savings off of the box office price and include a free Connecticut Sun winter hat and scarf.
The holiday package will be available by calling 1-877-SUN-TIXX, visiting http://bit.ly/sunholiday13 or emailing email@example.com. For more information on the holiday packages and other Connecticut Sun tickets, visit www.connecticutsun.com.