Anne Donovan is still two months away from beginning life as coach of the WNBA’s Connecticut Sun. Right now, the majority of her time is taken up trying one last time to take Seton Hall to the next level in the Big East in her third and final year as its coach.
The Pirates are 8-15, but 3-7 in the conference, still a major improvement over last year its only win was over winless Pittsburgh.
Donovan’s chance to coach against UConn again comes Feb. 23 at Gampel Pavilion on the Huskies Senior Night. But she doesn’t need to watch film to know what she’ll be up against.
“They will be the team to beat [for the national championship] without any question,” Donovan said Tuesday. “They are talented. They are deep. They are versatile. And if they stay healthy, and knock on wood they will be, I definitely believe they are the favorite [to win the national championship].”
Donovan says the development of UConn’s underclassmen and the strength of its perennial tough non-conference schedule will help it come tournament time.
“I think as the year has moved on, Geno’s younger players have figured out many of the highs and lows or collegiate basketball, especially dealing with the schedule UConn plays,” Dovovan said. “They play everyone and anyone and when they get to the postseason, they are ready for anything. They’ve seen everyone. You have to credit Geno for continuing to schedule all the powers. The Big East is pretty damn good, but going outside and finding everyone else you can get [on the schedule] all goes to him.”
Like many WNBA coaches, Donovan is extremely high on UConn senior Kelly Faris.
“I think she is an intriguing player, definitely an overachiever, a blue-collar kid which I love,” Donovan said. “She is the type of player that will embrace any big goal that you put in front of her and take care of it for her.”
The Sun has the 11th pick in the first round. Faris is considered a late-first of second-round pick.
“It will be interesting for me to see which training camp she ends up in,” Donovan said. “The rosters are so tight with just 11 players and it is critical that she ends up in a place that has a need for a great competitor and all-around utility player like her.
“She would have fit tremendously well on my [WNBA championship] team [in Seattle]. And that’s [a deep team] exactly the type of place she needs to be. And if she’s lucky to get to that type of team she will stick. “