Category Archives: Kelsey Griffin

Sun’s Griffin To Have Jersey Retired By Nebraska

by Categorized: Connecticut Sun, Kelsey Griffin, WNBA Date:

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.

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Nebraska To Retire Jersey of Sun’s Kelsey Griffin

by Categorized: Connecticut Sun, Kelsey Griffin, WNBA Date:

Currently playing professional in Australia, Connecticut Sun forward Kelsey Griffin will return to the United States in January when the University of Nebraska retires her college number – 23.

Griffin was a first-team All-American, national player-of-the-year finalist and Big 12 player of the year in 2010. She led the Cornhuskers to 30 straight wins before their first loss, the Big 12 regular-season championship and Nebraska’s first appearance in the NCAA regional semifinals. She also led the Huskers to the NCAA tournament in 2007 and 2008.

Griffin and Karen Jennings are the only players in program history with 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds. Jennings’ No. 51 and Maurtice Ivy’s No. 30 are the other jerseys retired by Nebraska.

 

Sun On Schedule To Set In The West

by Categorized: Anne Donovan, Chris Sienko, Connecticut Sun, Kelsey Griffin, WNBA Date:

  Kelsey Griffin, the former Nebraska All-American in her fourth season, was not happy after Sunday’s 76-66 loss to the New York Liberty, a franchise record 19th of the season.

  Here is why: The juxtaposition of the Sun is startling. They’ve nosedived from one win away from the WNBA Finals in 2012 to the worst record in the league this season.

  “You can’t take any game you’re given in this league for granted,” said Griffin, who led the Sun with a career-high 22 points and 10 rebounds. “There are a lot of players that want to be playing in this league, and can’t, and aren’t, and I feel very privileged to be in this league.
  “I go out and try to play every night with that respect for the game. I’m trying to carry that through until the end of the season.”

The Sun’s Job Just Keeps Getting Harder

by Categorized: Angel McCoughtry, Anne Donovan, Connecticut Sun, Kayla Pedersen, Kelsey Griffin, Stanford women's basketball, UConn women's basketball, WNBA Date:

  If winning the Eastern Conference is on their regular-season to-do list, the Connecticut sun are already in deep trouble.

   riddled by injuries and 2-6, the sun may need a wallenda to help make it to the top. But there is more to winning the WNBA championship than excelling prior to the playoffs. and there are 26 games left to figure it out.

  The job now is to keep focused and stay close enough to a playoff spot until their injured players return.

    “I’m hoping that nobody on this team is thinking that we have to tread water,” Sun forward Kelsey Griffin said Sunday after Connecticut’s 78-77 loss to the Atlanta Dream at Mohegan Sun Arena. “We need to go out and win games and have a certain identity.

 “We have to go out there and make this a deeper team when these two come back, and as everyone knows that’s key in this league.  Staying healthy and having a deep bench is important. Using this to get better and grow up we will have the whole team to do it.

  The Sun were without arguably their three top guards Sunday – Renee Montgomery (ankle), Tan White (hand) and Kara Lawson (knee). Without them they often struggled early to score and fell behind by 14 with 6:22 to play in the game.

 “Tan is in a cast for another week before she gets it x-rayed again, and then at that point, they’ll find out if the bone is calcifying or not. So she’s probably two weeks away,” Sun coach Anne Donovan said. “Renee is [due back] middle of July. That is what we’re looking at.”
    Still, the Sun fought back to take the lead with 58 seconds to play on a Griffin put-back. Problem was, they still had to deal with Atlanta’s Angel McCoughtry, who was dealing on them.

    McCoughtry, who took a team-record 33 shots (of the team’s 74) scored the final two of her 34 points on a driving lay-up with 51 seconds to play. Then the Dream held off the Sun down the stretch, surviving Allie Hightower’s last-second jumper to improve their record to 7-1.

   The Sun next play Saturday at the casino against Diana Taurasi, Brittney Griner and the Phoenix Mercury. It will be just Connecticut’s third game in 15 days following a loss in New York June 14.

   Donovan’s approach during the dry spell has been to look for ways to revigorate the roster. After signing guards Iziane Castro Marques and Sydney Carter she added a new post player last week by trading a second-round pick next  season to Tulsa for Kayla Pedersen, a 6-4 forward and former Stanford standout,

“We’re just trying to get bigger; rebounding has been an issue for us [until Sunday when the Sun won, 44-31],” Donovan said. “We’ve known from the beginning we’re smaller than most teams. With Kayla we get a little more size. Hopefully we’ll get some more rebounding, and she’s got great versatility, so I feel like we can use her wherever we need her to post.”

   Pedersen, a former USA Basketball teammate of Sun center Tina Charles, ended her Stanford career (2007-2011) as the school’s and Pac-10’s all-time leader in rebounds (1,266). She was also Stanford’s career leader in games played (150) and started (150) and minutes played (4,762). She played just 7:18 on Sunday with no points or rebounds.

  “I don’t have any expectations at all about how much playing time I can expect. But I think I can be a big help to Tina,” said Peterson, Tulsa’s first-round pick in 2011. “I get her some high-low passes, create a few more looks to the basket for her. I’m very excited to be playing with her again.

  “I have to say that I am even excited about the chance to meet people that may have rooted against me in college. Maybe I can make some fans out of them. … The rivalry we had with UConn [when she was at Stanford] was one of my favorites. You had these two highly competitive teams that really didn’t like each other. It seemed like we were always playing each other.

  “But there was always a great respect for each other. They were really good times.”

 

Faris Is Learning About The Realities Of WNBA Life

by Categorized: 2013 WNBA Draft, Connecticut Sun, Kelly Faris, Kelsey Griffin, Sue Bird, Tina Charles, UConn women's basketball, WNBA Date:

During her career at UConn, Kelly Faris played in 154 games. She was a member of four Final Four teams and two national champions, including the Huskies’ 39-0 team in 2009-10.

    In her golden era, UConn lost just 11 games, seven to Notre Dame. The success against the rest was surely intoxicating, resulting in the sense of infallibility which has fueled Geno Auriemma’s perennial powerful program for the last two decades.

   But as every UConn player who joins the WNBA finds out, the glow doesn’t persist. Players fly commercial, often live alone in a condominium and play against the top talent in the world on a daily basis. It’s an unremitting tempo that can initially shock your system.

   And after the Connecticut Sun’s 78-68 loss to the New York Liberty Friday at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., the look on Faris’ face suggested her new reality was starting to wear on her.

  “I’ve been spoiled by my past,” Faris admitted. “At UConn, I was a part of very good teams with a lot of talent. Right now, it’s frustrating to me that we’re in kind of in a hole.”

   The loss dropped the Sun to 2-4 and set up a very crucial early-season game Sunday against the Seattle Storm (1-3) at the Mohegan Sun Arena.

   Without both Lauren Jackson and Sue Bird this season, the Storm are the league’s lowest scoring team. They had just four points in the third quarter of Friday’s 68-59 loss in Atlanta.

   And as it tries to rebound Sunday, the Sun realize they must find a way to gather momentum into July without either Renee Montgomery (high ankle sprain) or Tan White (broken finger). They also know there is no alternative. With Chicago, Atlanta, Washington and New York off to strong starts in the Eastern Conference, there is no time to waste.

  “The conference is going to be a battle to the end,” Kelsey Griffin said. “Everyone [in the conference] is really good. There are no gimmes and everyone knows it.”

   On Friday, the Liberty held Tina Charles to seven points (3-of-17) and four rebounds in 26 minutes. It was the first time this season the MVP didn’t reach a double-double.

    Charles, burdened with four fouls early in the third quarter, said after the game that she “wasn’t as aggressive” as she wanted to be in the first half

    “I thought in the second half [when they outscored Connecticut 54-35] they [the Liberty] really came at us aggressively,” Sun coach Anne Donovan said. “We came back after their runs, but we were waiting on Tina [Charles] to get going a lot of times. We need to get aggressive and confident in other positions all the time. We need to play off of Tina when she’s playing well or when she’s not. We’re very aware of that now and hopefully it’s something that we continue to remember in the future. “

  One of the ways Donovan hopes to insure that after Sunday is by getting newcomer Iziane Castro Marques more involved. The veteran guard, signed last week, played just five first-half minutes on Friday with two points. She will be counted on to complement the scoring provided by Kara Lawson and Allie Hightower, who combined for 33 points and six three-pointers against the Liberty.

 “We needed some practice time to get Izzie into a rotation and to see how she might be able to help us so we were playing a lot of minutes with Kara [35 on Friday], Alli [35] and Kalana [Greene, who played 29].

   “Kelly stepped up and gave us some good minutes [five points in 16 minutes] but we need to get Izzie into that rotation as well.  We need some practice time, to be honest, and we get that after Seattle [the next game is June 23].  And I’ll feel better, probably, at that point to know exactly what we got. “

  As for Faris, the time will likely help her better understand the realism of professional basketball where there are no UConns. In Tulsa, her former college nemesis, Notre Dame’s Skylar Diggins, the third pick in the draft, is on a team that’s 1-6.

  “This team [the Sun] is full of talent,” Faris said. “We all need to get on the same page and there is plenty of time for us to turn it around. We’re more than capable of focusing on the little things we need to do better to improve as a group.”

 

 

 

Griffin Empowered By Power Forward Role With Sun

by Categorized: Connecticut Sun, Kelsey Griffin, WNBA Date:

kelsey

Kelsey Griffin was playing in Australia this winter when an email from Connecticut Sun coach Anne Donovan essentially re-energized her career on the mainland.

The note informed Griffin and her teammates that Asjha Jones, the Sun’s veteran forward, had decided not to play in the WNBA in 2013 in order to rest chronic injuries.

For Griffin, it was an enticement. For the first time in her four years with the Sun, Griffin would have the chance to focus on the power forward position that made her a first-team All-American at Nebraska in 2010.

“There was a lot that was unknown for me coming into this [WNBA season] with the new coaching staff,” Griffin said. “But there was a different feeling. I knew there was more opportunity. But I tried not to get myself caught up in the head game of convincing myself that this was ‘my time’ or ‘this was it’ for me. I just wanted to approach the game as I knew it should be played.”

With Jones a fixture at the four, former Sun coach Mike Thibault really had no choice but to shift Griffin, 6-feet-2, from small to power forward to find her playing time.

But as much as he valued her energy, it wasn’t a good mix for Griffin and her productivity lagged.

Coming into this season, she had averaged only 3.7 points in 99 career games and there were times last season when she seemed to be the team’s forgotten figure.

In the first 18 games on the 2012 season, Griffin never played more than nine minutes and three times didn’t get in at all.

“For Kelsey, it’s all about having the opportunity,” Sun center Tina Charles said. “She’s been playing great in practice for a new coach and is being rewarded with a lot of minutes.”

But playing in Australia unleashed Griffin’s ability.

“I put a lot of time into the gym this winter,” Griffin said.

After spending a year in Hungary and Israel, Griffin signed with the Bendigo Spirit, where she was a teammate of Aussie international star guard Kristi Harrower. Griffin averaged 16.5 points and 8.6 rebounds and helped lead the team to the championship.

In the title game, Griffin scored 20 points with 11 rebounds and was voted the Most Valuable Player on title tournament.

Donovan, a Hall of Fame center in her playing days, said prior to training camp how much she was looking forward to coaching Griffin and helping her progress.

“I had a lot of dialogue with her before the season, just to see if she felt ready for this,” Donovan said. “She made it clear. She was ready. All she needed was confidence and she has it from our staff.”

Saturday, Griffin was in the starting lineup, in Jones’ position, when the Sun opened the 2013 season with a 81-69 win over New York.

“A lot of people may not realize this is first year [in the WNBA] that I’ve been able to play 100 percent of the time at the 4 [power forward],” Griffin said. “To be able to play what I know is super comfortable for me. But I also want people to realize I am the same player as I’ve always been. And I also know the league better, which helps out a lot.”

The Sun was again led by Kara Lawson, who had 23 points and five of the Sun’s 10 three-pointers. Tina Charles, the league’s MVP in 2012, added another double-double to her resume (she has 18 last season) with 19 points and 13 boards.

But during her 25 minutes on the floor, there was no better player than Griffin, whose high energy defense and in rebounding helped glint the Sun in the second half after trailing 42-40.

“Kelsey was such a spark for us,” Donovan said. “Great help defense, knocking down shots. I’m really happy for her.”

Griffin ended with 10 points, five rebounds and two blocked shots, one a vicious swat of rookie Kelsey Bone in the fourth quarter that left the Liberty’s first-round pick shaking her head.

“You look at Kelsey and you think she’s not big enough and then she comes up with such a big block on Bone,” Donovan said. Griffin scored 10 or more points just twice last season.

“You know in the past we have relied on Tina a lot, she’s a phenomenal rebounder,” Griffin said. “This year, I really want to help her out, she has to do so much for us anyway. Anytime I can get extra hustle plays to get us extra possessions, it’s good.

“What I did was no different than what I try to do every night. It’s all about taking advantage of opportunity. If I can make some energy plays off the offensive boards [she had two of the team’s 14] I am happy to do it.”