It is not unusual for a WNBA team to wait until the final possible moment to make its final roster cut.
“In fact, most of years that I played in Sacramento, that’s exactly what happened,” said Connecticut Sun guard Kara Lawson, who begins her 11th season in the league Saturday against New York.
That’s exactly how it transpired Thursday for the Sun. First-year coach Anne Donovan, conflicted for weeks about how to trim the team, put 13 players through one final practice in the morning.
“I can’t say that I’ve never done it this way before,” Donovan said. “But I can say that I don’t remember being so indecisive down the stretch, where my mind changed from one day to the next. I’d think I have a good grip on it [the decision] and then we’d go to the next game or practice and it changes again.”
But Thursday afternoon, Donovan brought her team together at the Mohegan Sun Arena and got on with it.
The Sun waived 6-4 forward Latoya Williams and guard Johannah Leedham, a former Cheshire Academy and Great Britain national team standout, to get to the limit of 11.
That means Ashley Walker, a 6-1 forward from Cal, and veteran guard Natasha Lacy, both free agents, have made the team.
The Sun won two of three preseason games and Donovan said its win Tuesday against at Minnesota reconfirmed some of the things she had been thinking.
Walker, the final cut of three teams in the last three years, excelled against the Lynx, scoring a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds in 18 minutes.
She also led the Sun in scoring (12 points) during their loss in New York last Saturday. Walker wound up leading the team with 31 points in 54 minutes in the three games.
Lacey, who has played in the WNBA before for Tulsa (2010) and Los Angeles (2011), averaged 4.0 points and 5.0 rebounds and just over 18 minutes in three preseason games.
Both Lacey and Walker bring strong rebounding and athleticism to a team that will be stressing both after missing the WNBA Finals last season by one game.
“It was a normal camp in many respects, other than this was new for everybody [because of Donovan],” Lawson said. “We are all trying to pick up things, as opposed to what it was like under Mike Thibault and his staff. We knew what to expect and knew each other. There has been a lot of intense listening. We need to know what she wants.”
Of course, the roster can still change before Saturday. Donovan and Chris Sienko, the general manager, will continue to scan the waiver wire looking for interesting potential matches. All 12 teams needed to cut down to 11 player by Thursday at 5 p.m.
“Our team now is what we feel is the best we can put on the floor now,” Sienko said. “But if someone comes available that can make us better or augment the team, then we need to consider them.”
Sienko said there are no free agents the Sun may be considering that were not in WNBA training camps this summer.
He also said it’s now increasingly unlikely that either of the Sun’s top two European properties, center Sandrine Gruda or Spain’s Alba Torrens, will report at any point this summer.
“Everyone has played very well for us,” Sun guard Kalana Greene said. “I know it must have been tough [to make the cuts]. I couldn’t imagine making them myself. This has just been a great group of girls. I hate to see any of them go. But I know that’s the way it has to be.”