Although her college days are done, Kelly Faris, the consummate honor student, still had homework to do Tuesday at the Mohegan Sun Arena.
The former UConn guard sat at her assigned seat inside the arena doing what she did so well for four seasons in college – multitasking.
She answered questions from reporters while filling out the generic questionnaire her new team, the WNBA’s Connecticut Sun, will use to personalize her profile that will appear in its media guide.
Yes, one of Faris’ favorite shows is “The Big Bang Theory” and when she isn’t playing she likes to sleep and eat, just like millions of other college kids.
Of course, that is not what convinced the Sun to use its first-round pick, 11th overall, to take the 5-11 guard who helped lead the Huskies to their eighth national championship in April.
The Sun, which fell one win short of the WNBA Finals last season, think Faris has the intangibles that will help them take the next requisite step.
“I finally reached the top [the national championship] and now I am back at the bottom [trying to win a job with the Sun],” Faris said with a smile. “But it’s OK. This is a good group of players.
“The veterans have been very good to me, making sure all [the rookies] know what we are doing. I’m going to be playing with two former teammates [at UConn, Tina Charles and Kalana Greene]. And Connecticut is like a second home to me now. My family [the UConn program] is just 30 minutes away. So I’m just trying to soak it all in.”
The Sun will have to wait a few more days to begin finding out. Faris was wearing a walking boot on the foot she injured at Notre Dame in the triple-overtime loss that ended UConn’s regular season.
It’s the injury Faris basically ignored for a month while playing perhaps the best basketball of her career in the post season. But now is not the time for heroism.
“It’s better, but this is about the only time I will have to completely allow it to heal [by not putting pressure on it],” Faris said. “If were up to me, I would be right back on it.”
Faris will not practice until at least the middle of next week, meaning she will miss the team’s first preseason game Saturday night against New York at the casino.
Sun coach Anne Donovan believes Faris can play the small forward, perhaps even power forward. She knows Faris does just about everything well; the guard was just the second UConn player ever to score over 1,000 points (1,107) with over 750 rebounds (821), 500 assists (545) and 250 steals (294). The other was Maya Moore.
More significantly, Donovan, who coached Seton Hall in the Big East for the last three years, knows Faris was the conference’s defensive player of the year and is looking forward to her ability to guard the perimeter.
“This is kind of like it was when I came to UConn; I didn’t know what my position on the team will be. All I knew was whatever Coach Auriemma asked of me, I would do my best to try and get it done,” Faris said. “I’m not looking to come in here and change how I approach things. I will do my best to fill whatever holes the team may have.”
Faris says she is not particularly apprehensive about making the leap into the WNBA. She calms what fears she may have with her self-confidence.
“I just keep working on the little things that I like to do,” Faris said. “I’ve found working hard gets things done for me.”
Charles, the reigning WNBA MVP, played with Faris during the guard’s freshman season when the Huskies won their seventh national championship. Charles said the most important thing Faris can do now is be receptive to the inevitable change that’s coming.
“I will tell Kelly to understand that her role [with the Sun] will change,” Charles said. “And she should be receptive to it. Every rookie that comes into the league should know that. Sometimes to a player comes from college, perhaps as its leading scorer, but your [WNBA] team may need you to do other things. Some rookies struggle to do that.”
Charles says Faris will hopefully benefit from her familiarity of having former UConn teammates on the Sun.
“Especially when it comes to asking questions,” Charles said.
Before joining the Sun on Thursday, Faris said Auriemma basically just expressed his support to one of his all-time favorite players.
“He let me know that if there was ever any time that I needed anything he would be there for me,” Faris said. “I believe that whole-heartedly, just like all of the other girls who have played for him. He is like our second father. And I told him that I would also be back [to campus].”