Not only do the Connecticut Sun (24-9) own the first seed in the WNBA’s Eastern Conference, have the best road record in the league (13-4) and have played the season without losing consecutive games, but they have five of the 10 players selected by the fans and media as the greatest in the franchise history.
The Sun’s first All-Decade team was announced before Wednesday’s 73-67 win over the Indiana Fever at the Mohegan Sun Arena.
It included past players Lindsay Whalen, Taj McWilliams-Franklin, Katie Douglas, Nykesha Sales and the late Margo Dydek.
More significantly, it also included five from this present team, center Tina Charles, forward Asjha Jones and guard Kara Lawson, Renee Montgomery and Tan White.
If there is a window to win a title, its wide open now for Connecticut.
“It feels awesome [to be on the team],” said Jones, who returned from a 14-game absence [sore Achilles’ tendon] Wednesday to score four points in five minutes. “Anytime you are honored as one of the top players anywhere, it’s a great personal honor. It’s just very nice to be thought of in that way, on that level as an important piece of the franchise.”
Charles, who along with Jones helped the USA win Olympic gold in London this summer, may be on her way to an MVP season. She recorded her 18th double-double Wednesday and became the fastest player in league history to reach 1,100 career rebounds (100 games).
“To have only been here for less than three seasons, and to recognized in that way, is totally an honor for me to be among those names,” said Charles, the league’s No. 1 overall draft pick out of UConn in 2010. “All I ever wanted when I was drafted was to be able to make an impact on the team that selected me. I think I am doing a good job of it.”
Ironically, both Charles and Montgomery, another former UConn All-American, were acquired in a trade for Whalen in the winter of 2010.
The Lynx dealt the first overall pick in 2010 draft to the Sun, which enabled them to take Charles. Charles was the Rookie of the Year.
“The trade was beneficial for both parties, and I still think Minnesota got the bad end of the deal because we got Tina Charles out of it,” said Montgomery, who has come off the bench in all 33 games to average 11.8 points.
“Tina was happy with the trade, I was happy with the trade.”
Lawson, the former Tennessee star, may be having her greatest season in this her 10th. She is averaging 14.9 points with 71 three-pointers and is leading the league in free throw shooting (93.3 percent).
“As you progress in this league, things like this, people showing your affection for how you play and what your value is, begins to mean more to you,” said Lawson, who also made selected to all-time team of the defunct Sacramento Monarchs. “My three years here have been great, exactly what I thought they would be when I signed to play here. It’s been a great journey.”
The biggest surprise on the team like was White, who signed with the Sun as a free agent in 2009 after being released by Indiana.
The top scorer in NCAA Division I as a senior at Mississippi State (23.5), White hasn’t approached that level professionally as a scorer. But she has impressed Sun fans – and her coaches – with her intensity.
“It surprised me, shocked me,” said White of her selection. “But at the same time, I am honored to be among so many players that actually came up through the organization. I’ve always felt a bond the fans here and it makes me very happy.
“When the Sun signed me, I looked at it like a job and I knew I’d have to come here and work hard. Once I got here, it seemed like I suddenly blossomed and began playing with a lot of confidence.
“Four years ago, I would have never thought to be in this situation.”
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