Category Archives: WNBA

On Fenway, Fallon And Mohegan Sun

by Categorized: American Athletic Conference, Jimmy Fallon, Stefanie Dolson, The Tonight Show, UConn men's basketball, UConn women's basketball, WNBA Date:

As we await the decision of A’ja Wilson this afternoon on ESPNU at 3 p.m. ….

The national champion UConn women and men will be heading to Fenway Park on April 22 to be honored by the world champion Red Sox. It is still unclear what kind of ceremony will take place before the game; you know, the first ball thing, who throws it, who catches it…But the Huskies will be there to share and get to see a baseball game. And what is better than that?

Stefanie Dolson [of the Washington Mystics] is still likely to show up on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, at some point, but as you can tell from watching NBC this week the show is already on a hiatus and in repeats. UConn is enlisting the help of NBC Connecticut executives in trying to put the gig together. If you recall, Stef asked Fallon to ‘Hit her up” during her impromptu address to the nation following UConn’s win over ND in the national championship game. Fallon did just that was using the first two minutes of his monologue one night latter to talk about the “Lady” Huskies and Dolson’s invite He invited her to play some one-on-one and XBox. Let’s hope it happens. And now, the WNBA can even help make it happen. It’s legal now.

The Mohegan Sun Arena and the American Athletic Conference will be announcing a one-year extension to their agreement to stage the conference tournament at the casino on Thursday morning. Let’s face it. the tournament would be there FOREVER, but no one is quite clear what UConn’s future is in the AAC and why would Mohegan Sun want a multiple-year deal with the AAC knowing its championship game might between East Carolina and Tulsa someday?

A Mystical Night For Those Who Value UConn Players

by Categorized: 2014 WNBA Draft, Bria Hartley, Mike Thibault, Seattle Storm, Stefanie Dolson, WNBA Date:

During his decade coaching the Connecticut Sun, Mike Thibault learned to appreciate how profesionally ready many UConn players seemed to be on draft.
And so, he entered the 2014 WNBA draft hoping to get UConn’s Stefanie Dolson or Bria Hartley for the Washington Mystics.
He ended with both.
“They know how to win. They expect to win. They practice every day to win,” Thibault said. “That is the mentality that has been instilled with them at UConn. And I would think the styles Geno and I use are somewhat close. They [UConn players] may learn some plays differently [in the WNBA}, but in terms of our expectations, our practices, the things we do, it’s very similar.
“In terms of myself, I know what I am getting [with UConn players]. They win. They are well-coached, well-prepared for this level.”

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Tina Charles Says She Just Wanted To Go Home

by Categorized: Anne Donovan, Connecticut Sun, WNBA Date:

So here’s what it comes down to. Tina Charles, a former rookie of the year and MVP for the WNBA’s Connecticut Sun, said Tuesday her decision to ask for a trade was fueled primarily by her urge to play closer to her birthplace, be close to her family and play [for a championship] in Madison Square Garden.

That is not a hard concept to understand. What’s harder is understanding what took her so long to tell the Sun and what caused the breakdown in communication that led to it.

“I don’t want to be a part of a team where names pop off of a page,” Charles said from Russia in a conference call. “I want to be with a team where our entire presence is felt. I know Bill Laimbeer [the Liberty coach] will allow that to happen.”

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Chiney Ogwumike Wins Wooden

by Categorized: Chiney Ogwumike, Connecticut Sun, Stanford women's basketball, WNBA Date:

Chiney Ogwumike of Stanford, expected to be the first overall selection in Monday’s WNBA Draft by the Connecticut Sun, has won the Wooden Award as college basketball’s female athlete of the year.

She received the award from Wooden’s grandson, Craig Impelman, at the Los Angeles Athletic Club. Her coach, Tara VanDerveer, and her sister, Nneka Ogwumike of the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks, were on hand. Nneka was a two-time finalist for the Wooden Award.

Chiney led the Cardinal to the Final Four, where they lost to UConn the semifinals. She was a two-time Pac-12 player of the year and three-time league defensive player of the year. Ogwumike averaged 26.5 points and 12.1 rebounds this season and ended her career as the league’s career scoring leader with 2,722 points.

Ogwumike carries a 3.6 grade-point average in international relations, a component of the award that was important to Wooden.

Ogwumike received 774 points in nationwide voting. Odyssey Sims of Baylor finished second with 761. Breanna Stewart was third at 732. Kayla McBride of Notre Dame finished fourth at 562 and Alyssa Thomas of Maryland was fifth at 509.

 

Connecticut Sun Draft History

by Categorized: 2014 WNBA Draft, Connecticut Sun, WNBA Date:

Connecticut Sun draft history (player and slot)

2013

Kelly Faris, 11, Anna Prins 23, Andrea Smith, 35

2012

Astan Dabo, 9, Chay Shegog, 21
2011
Sydney Colson, 16, Adrienne Johnson, 28

2010
Tina Charles, 1, Danielle McCray, 7, Allison Hightower, 15, Johannah Leedham, 27

2009
Chante Black, 10, Lyndra Littles, 17, Alba Torrens, 36

2008
Amber Holt, 9, Ketia Swanier, 12 ,Jolene Anderson, 23, Lauren Ervin, 37

2007
Kamesha Hairston, 12, Sandrine Gruda, 13, Cori Chambers, 26, Kiera Hardy, 39

2006
Debbie Merrill, 28, Marita Payne, 42

2005
Katie Feenstra, 8, Erin Phillips, 21, Megan Mahoney, 34

2004
Lindsay Whalen, 4, Jessica Brungo, 16, Candace Futrell, 29

2003
Courtney Coleman, 13, Lindsey Wilson, 34

 

Will The Sun Shine On Chiney Ogwumike? Donovan Says “Not So Fast”

by Categorized: 2014 WNBA Draft, Anne Donovan, Chiney Ogwumike, Connecticut Sun, WNBA Date:

After finishing in last place overall in the WNBA last season, with a roster depleted with injuries, the Connecticut Sun was faced with a conundrum unlike anything it had seen in many years.
The Sun knew they had to change the look of a team whose smile had turned upside down. And change has come frequently during a offseason delayed for months by the negotiation of the league’s new collective bargaining agreement.
But on Monday, the Sun roster will change even more dramatically when it makes the first pick in the 2014 WNBA Draft at the Mohegan Sun Arena. They also hold the 11th pick, acquired from the Los Angeles Sparks in exchange for the talented, but disinterested, Sandrine Gruda, the star French center, who had not played in Connecticut for two years.
“[Gruda] was clear she did not want to come to Connecticut,” Sun coach Anne Donovan said. “We felt this was our opportunity to get some trade value from her.
And with the first pick, it is expected the Sun will select Stanford’s dynamic, personable All-American Chiney Ogwumike, although Dovonan, perhaps on orders from the league, perhaps to heighten the drama, was decidedly coy about the team’s intentions.
“Odyssey Sims [the Baylor guard] is quite the player,” Donovan said.  Everybody who thinks that it’s a foregone conclusion that Chiney Ogwumike is going to be here with us, well, we’d love to have Chiney Ogwumike and  we’d love to have Odyssey.  It just depends on guard or post, truthfully.”
Truthfully, the Sun need Ogwumike more than Sims. They have no classic power forward to take pressure of Tina Charles, who despite dominating again in rebounding did not have a stellar season following her MVP in 2013.
Ogwumike, the Pac-12 player of the year and a relentless rebounder, seems to snap perfectly into that place.
“She’s very coachable.  She’s shown great improvement every year at Stanford,” Donovan said. “She played internationally for USA.  She’s won gold medals with our national team.  She’s done all the right things to continue to grow her game.  She’s shown a hunger to get better as she does it.”
Although she was raised in Houston, and has a decidedly free-spirited west coach vibe, Ogwumike said she would welcome being selected by Connecticut.
“You know, I don’t like jumping the gun or anything, but you know what, one thing I know about Connecticut is that they’re huge women’s basketball fans,” Ogwumike said at last week’s Final Four in Nashville. “I’m a people person. I think that organization [the Sun] is great. The players on the team are great. The fans; I feel like a place like that, I would thrive. … If it [the draft pick] happens to be in Connecticut, I’ll be a happy girl.”

The idea that Asjha Jones would reclaim her power forward spot, after taking last year off, was dashed when she injured her Achilles in Europe. Her replacement, Mistie Bass, signed as a free agent with Phoenix. And Kelsey Griffin is more of combo forward than classic power post.
“Chiney is  a fantastic player and I think would be a great grab for Connecticut because I think they need that help in the postgame, especially with not having Asjha Jones coming back,” said Carolyn Peck, ESPN’s draft analyst. “She fits the speed, is a post that you need in the WNBA.  She brings great rebounding inside for Connecticut.  I think she would be a great fit.
“Now, for me, you also would have to consider Odyssey Sims because I think that Odyssey is a point guard, the best point guard in the college game, and I think she is so ready.  I think that Coach Donovan would have to consider do you pass up on that.”
But the Sun has already made changes at guard, trading Kara Lawson to Washington in a three-team deal with Atlanta that brought Alex Bentley to the Sun. And they reached back to re-sign Katie Douglas, a lynchpin of two Sun conference champions, who has tortured them for years in Indiana.
“I think, all in all, for what Connecticut needs, I think Chiney would surely suit the Sun,” Peck said.
To help bolster the post, the Sun also offered free-agent deals to Kelley Cain, a 6-6 center who played collegiately at Tennessee, and 6-2 Keisha Hampton, the former DePaul star.
What’s certain is the the Tulsa Shock, who choose second, will take the player the Sun passes on.
“We’re going to do the opposite of what [the Sun] does,” Shock coach Fred Williams said. “Connecticut has the first call on that.  But either player on that end is a good find and good pick.”
San Antonio seems interested in UConn’s Stefanie Dolson with the third pick, leaving Notre Dame’s Kayla McBride, Alyssa Thomas of Maryland and Bria Hartley for the New York Liberty and Fever to choose from at 4 and 5.
“I don’t think we have an Elena Delle Donne or Brittney Griner in this class, who are game changers.  But we have a lot of impact players,” ESPN’s LaChina Robinson said. “You could look across the board, especially at the top five, some of the players we’ve talked about all season; Ogwumike, Sims, McBride and Thomas.  They’re impact players.
“You may not have big stars, but it’s definitely not a letdown at all [from last year] because these are players the fans have become familiar with over time.  I think they will be watching to see how they perform at the next level.  I think there’s tremendous depth in this class.”

WNBA Makes If Official: 2014 Draft At Mohegan Sun On April 14

by Categorized: Connecticut Sun, Mohegan Sun Arena, WNBA Date:

The WNBA finally got around to making it official. Yes, its 2014 will be held April 14 at Mohegan Sun Arena. ESPN2 will provide coverage and analysis of the first round beginning at 8 p.m. ET and ESPNU will air the second and third rounds beginning at 9 p.m.
The Sun holds the top pick in the draft for the second time in franchise history. Rounding out this year’s top five picks are the Tulsa Shock (second), San Antonio Stars (third), New York Liberty (fourth), and Indiana Fever (fifth).

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Sun Sign Kelley Cain, Former Lady Vol

by Categorized: Connecticut Sun, WNBA Date:

The Connecticut Sun has signed 6-foot-6 center Kelley Cain to a training camp contract. Cain is playing in South Korea with Winnus, where she is currently averaging 9.9 points and 8.1 rebounds.

Selected by the New York Liberty with the seventh overall pick in the 2012 WNBA Draft, Cain played 20 games for the Liberty, finishing with 30 rebounds and 23 points. The former University of Tennessee center was waived last May.

With the Volunteers, Cain set single-game and single-season records for blocked shots as a redshirt sophomore during the 2009-10 season. She had 12 against 20th ranked LSU on February 22, 2010, and finished with 113 blocks that year. She had 228 blocks in 92 games at Tennessee, where she averaged 8.6 points and 6.2 rebounds. Cain opted to forgo her fifth year of eligibility at Tennessee, ending her collegiate career on April 5, 2011.

WNBA Draft On April 14

by Categorized: WNBA Date:

I learned this afternoon that the WNBA Draft will be held April 14 at 8 p.m. at the Mohegan Sun Arena. This is the first time the league will hold its entry draft at the home of an existing franchise, the Connecticut Sun.

The league has yet to make the announcement. But I have it confirmed from two sources.

The Sun will have the first pick and are expected to take Stanford’s Chiney Ogwumike. UConn’s Stef Dolson and Bria Hartley will likely  to be top 10 picks

 

Katie Douglas Returns To The Connecticut Sun

by Categorized: Connecticut Sun, WNBA Date:

The Connecticut Sun announced today it has signed three-time All Star Katie Douglas to a two-year contract with a third-year option.

“I am definitely excited to be rejoining the Connecticut Sun,” said Douglas, a 6-0 guard who has played the last six seasons with the Indiana Fever after beginning her career with the Connecticut Sun franchise. “I had a great five years there playing in front of some of the best fans in the WNBA. I look forward to reconnecting with the community and to helping Connecticut become a championship contender.”

Originally drafted by the Orlando Miracle in 2001, Douglas relocated to Connecticut ad during five seasons in Connecticut, she helped the Sun reach two WNBA Finals and four Eastern Conference Finals while compiling a regular-season record of 104-64 (.615).

“We are very excited to have Katie return to Connecticut, bringing with her the experience and veteran leadership this team needs,” Connecticut Sun Vice President and General Manager Chris Sienko said. “Katie was on our radar throughout the offseason. I believe our fans will embrace her return.”

A 13-year WNBA veteran, Douglas ranks fifth all-time in league history in made threes (663), ninth all time in scoring (5,142 points) and 17th in assists (1,006). In Sun history, Douglas still ranks in the top five of 11 career statistical categories, including second in made threes (319), third in steals (342), and fourth  in points (2,578), assists (536), games played (214) and minutes (6,366).

Katie’s championship experience, her extreme competitiveness and her superior skill set will be a tremendous boost to our team,” Sun coach Anne Donovan said. “We are all really excited to welcome her back to Connecticut.”

Douglas averaged 15.4 points per game during six seasons in Indiana, starting in all 166 games she appeared. She had a career-high 80 made three-pointers during the 2012 season, and made a career-best 119 free throws during the 2008 season.

The Indiana native has appeared in 56 playoff games with Connecticut and the Fever, averaging 13 points per game in the postseason.