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  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.”