Asjha Jones: Don’t Forget About the Veterans
Lost in the hype of all the young talent acquired, the Sun also have strong veterans.
by Stephen Litel / @stephenlitel
After missing out on the playoffs for the first time since arriving in Connecticut, the Sun have been busy this off-season. The current talk revolves around their draft day, which brought them Tina Charles, Kelsey Griffin, Danielle McCray and Allison Hightower, but their arrivals would not have been possible without trading away Lindsay Whalen.
“Losing Lindsay seems like a huge lose and it is,” says Asjha Jones. “Lindsay and I have many years together under our belts and with that we developed amazing chemistry on the court, so I have mixed emotions about the trade. I will miss Lindsay, but at the same time, I am very excited for her because she gets to go back and play in her home state. I know how much she has missed her family and friends. It is also great for the league because sending Lindsay back home will hopefully boost Minnesota ticket sales.”
With the loss of Whalen brings the return of Renee Montgomery to Connecticut. As a second-year point guard who is beloved in the state, Montgomery is poised to be the quarterback on the court for years to come.
“We have lost Lindsay, but in return we now have Renee,” says Jones. “She is a young dynamic point guard. She is a coach’s dream because she can control the team and play defense full court. She has the ability to create plays off the dribble and you have to respect her shooting ability. I think that she will make everyone around her better when she’s on the court, so I am excited to play with her. I think she is the type of person that is great on and off the court.”
With the hype of all the young talent coming in, one of the wonderfully quiet things the Sun have accomplished is bringing in veterans to mentor the youth. From the Sacramento Monarchs dispersal draft, Connecticut brought in DeMya Walker. Her veteran presence will be of great help to Tina Charles as she adjusts to life in the WNBA.
“DeMya will add to the veteran leadership in the front court,” says Jones. “I am so excited to have her on my team now because now I don’t have to guard her anymore. She is one of the toughest players to defend. She has battled injury and had a great season last year. She comes from a team that has won a championship. She is another player that knows how to win and is awesome off the court.”
Another player comes from Sacramento to Connecticut this summer in Kara Lawson. Alongside Walker, Lawson is a former champion and is well respected around the league. As is the case with Walker, Lawson will be a wonderful addition to the team for what she can contribute in the summer of 2010, but also for what she can teach the young perimeter players.
“This team will have a great mix of veteran leadership and young talent,” says Jones. “Kara Lawson is a proven winner because she has done it on every level. She has won in college, in the WNBA, and she has a gold medal. Adding to all of this is that it’s her job at ESPN to analyze the game and players. She will be like a coach on the floor. She is an awesome teammate because she will be vocal from the bench as well as on the court. She will be a great model to show our young players what being a professional is all about.”
With all the new faces arriving in Connecticut soon, Jones begins to look within to determine if her role will change at all. A veteran herself, she may also be one of the quietest players in the league, choosing to lead by example off the court. Although that is more than admirable, a slight change in role may be in order with the amount of youth on the roster.
“I think that I am a vocal leader on the court, but I can definitely improve off the court,” says Jones. “I don’t think my role will change, but my minutes will probably go down. We have players who will be able to contribute and will deserve playing time. Either my minutes will have to go down or we will have to play three posts once in awhile. As the player who has been here the longest I will try to do whatever is needed of me to help this team gel and reach its potential as soon as possible.”
As is the case in Indiana with the Fever, people seem to overlook the Connecticut Sun heading into the season. The talk centers on the teams such as the Minnesota Lynx, Phoenix Mercury or New York Liberty with their addition of Cappie Pondexter. Yet, as you would expect, Jones and her team believe in themselves and that is all that matters.
“Going into every season the goal is to win a championship,” says Jones. “We have gotten close a couple of times, but not all the way. This league gets stronger every year, but I think this combination of players has amazing potential. I think we stack pretty high. I don’t know if outsiders believe, but we believe we have a chance to have a pretty special season.”
The question for the Sun is whether or not their mix of youthful talent and veteran leadership can mix quickly enough for the team to return to the playoffs in 2010. They certainly believe they can do so and are ready for the first step in the process. Namely, training camp.