Sun Anxious For Start of 2016 WNBA Season
The WNBA’S Connecticut Sun opens the 2016 season with a road game on May 14 against WNBA MVP Elena Delle Donne and the Chicago Sky.
The Sun announced on May 12 that it has waived guards Jamie Weisner (Oregon State) and Jennifer O’Neill (Kentucky).
Those two roster cuts, combined with the arrival of veteran forward Camille Little (9th year, North Carolina), who joined the team after completing her overseas commitment in Italy, complete the league-required 12-player roster.
The Sun, under first-year Coach Curt Miller, are coming off an undefeated preseason with encouraging wins over the Sky, San Antonio Stars and the Dallas Wings (previously Tulsa Shock). Last year the Sun finished 15-19.
This year, Miller, a coach with a track record for quick turnarounds, is banking on a core group of veterans led by Kelsey Bone and an outstanding draft to get the franchise back to the playoffs after a three-year hiatus.
Forward and top pick Morgan Tuck (UConn), guard Rachel Banham (Minnesota) and forward Jonquel Jones (George Washington) form what could be considered the best draft class in recent memory. Jones, picked up in an April 14 trade with the LA Sparks, has had an outstanding training camp and at 6-foot-6 will be a huge boost to the Sun frontline.
In addition to the three rookies, the Sun’s roster includes: Alex Bentley (Penn State), Kelsey Bone (Texas A&M), Kelly Faris (UConn), Aneika Henry-Morello (Florida), Camille Little (North Carolina), Chiney Ogwumike (Stanford), Shekinna Stricklen (Tennessee), Alyssa Thomas (Maryland) and Jasmine Thomas (Duke).
The Sun will close out the two-day road on May 19 against the San Antonio Stars. The Sun will play their first home game on May 21 at Mohegan Sun Arena, hosting the Washington Mystics at 7 p.m.
The Chicago Sky led the WNBA in scoring (82.9 ppg) last year with Delle Donne (23.4) the top scorer. On the other hand, Miller’s up-tempo offense could prove too much to handle.
The Sky (78.8) was one of the league’s worst defensive unit’s in 2015.
The San Antonio Stars are still in the rebuilding phase after an 8-26 record last year.
Moriah Jefferson (UConn) was their top draft pick but they have a huge hole in the paint with plenty of questions yet to be answered.
Most predict the Minnesota Lynx, with Maya Moore and Sylvia Fowles leading the way, to repeat as champs. The 2002 LA Sparks were the last team to win back-to-back titles.
Did you know?
The New York Liberty had the best record in the WNBA last year (23-11). The Liberty lost in the Eastern Conference finals.
The Indiana Fever’s Tamika Catchings will retire at the end of the 2016 season. Catchings is a 15-year WNBA vet who is a sure bet to make the Hall of Fame.
The WNBA has introduced a new playoff format which features the top eight teams regardless of conference affiliation.
In 2004 the league moved the three-point arc from 19 feet, 9 inches to the FIBA standard 20 feet, 6 ½ inches. In 2013, the arc was moved back again, this time to the new FIBA standard of 22 feet, 1 ¾ inches.
The top salary for a WNBA super-star is set at $109,800. Each team has a league-mandated team salary cap of $937,900.
And you wonder why Diana Taurasi and others head overseas to supplement their wages?
The league’s first game was played June 21, 1997 between the New York Liberty and the LA Sparks with the Liberty winning 67-57.
Tina Thompson was the top pick of the Houston Comets in the 1997 WNBA draft.
The Sun has had two top picks – Tina Charles (2010) and Chiney Ogwumike (2014).
Team USA will be looking for a sixth consecutive Olympic basketball title this year in Rio.
Follow Bob on Twitter for all the Sun and WNBA news: @WhitneyBob
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