12 Days, 12 Previews: Connecticut Sun
Five keys to a successful season.
The WNBA’s 15th season begins June 3rd and SLAMonline is counting down the days with in-depth previews of all twelve teams.
Prior to the start of each WNBA season (and NBA season for that matter), every writer and blogger in the country compiles extensive (by “extensive” I mean “wordy,” and by “wordy” I mean “tired”) previews analyzing the upcoming year, team by team. It’s just a fact of life. Almost as certain as death and taxes.
The problem, however, is they all look, feel, and say the same exact thing every year (copy and paste). You, the reader, deserves far better. Thus, we’re going through each team discussing five specific things they’ll need for their 2011 campaign to be considered a success.
More importantly, we want this to be interactive – be sure to post your thoughts in the comment section below.
Five Keys to the Season: Connecticut Sun
By Ben York / @bjyork
5. Spark: The Sun needs someone to ignite (pun kind of intended) this team on both ends of the floor in 2011. From an offensive standpoint, scoring was pretty evenly distributed in 2010 with five players averaging in double figures (Charles, Montgomery, Gruda, Jones, White). Defensively, Tina Charles averaged 11.7 rpg but the next closest teammate was Asjha Jones with 4.9.
Who will be the person to step up, especially considering they’ll lose Sandrine Gruda’s 10-15 points each night?
This spark doesn’t necessarily have to show up in the box score; it could be someone to bring that extra effort on the defensive end or someone who propels the team forward with a surge of energy. Whatever it is, they’ll need someone (especially off the bench) to step up in order to gain some sort of an advantage against an increasingly tough Eastern Conference.
4. Three’s: Connecticut averaged the third-most three-point attempts per game in 2010 (18.8) but shot the fourth-worst percentage (33.3). The good news is they have the shooters who can knock these shots down but they’ll need to do it at a higher rate for it to be a worthwhile weapon. Of all the shooters, Tan White had the highest percentage (36.6) of the group.
Again, with Gruda gone, this will become even more imperative as they’ll not have as much of a safety blanket down low to miss almost 13 three’s per game as they did in 2010.
3. Middle Ground: Connecticut has a unique team with a stellar mix of youth and veterans; meshing the two together is a lot more difficult than it sounds. Throughout the 2010 season they did a little bit of everything well; not great or terrible…just good enough to get by. Ultimately, their inability to set themselves apart from the rest of East led to their 17-17 record.
For example, in key offensive categories (points, assists, shooting percentage) they ranked 4th, 6th, and 10th respectively in 2010. In important defensive categories (steals, blocks, opponent shooting percentage) they finished 11th, 7th, and 9th. Other than rebounding (and Tina Charles had a lot to do with this) there wasn’t a specific category that separated themselves from the pack.
In 2011, they can no longer afford to be simply “good enough.” They’ll need to develop some cohesion and consistency and stick to it early on.
2. Renee Montgomery: Every year she’s been in the WNBA, Renee Montgomery has increased her output in multiple statistical categories. In her rookie year, she averaged 8.9 ppg for the Lynx and she bested that with 13.3 for the Sun in 2010. She also doubled her assist average from her rookie year to 4.1 in 2010 and increased her shot-attempts per night to almost 12 a game.
If this trend continues, Renee Montgomery and Tina Charles could prove to be an extremely lethal scoring combination. Look for Montgomery to average about 15-16 per game and Charles to up her offensive output to about 17 per game. If this happens, the Sun will turn a lot of heads in 2011.
1. Tina Charles: 15.5 points and 11.7 rebounds a night? In your first season? Insane. As another testament to her work ethic, she worked hard in the off-season to expand her game more along the perimeter; if that becomes a consistent threat, she’ll be nearly unguardable.
This Sun team will go as far as Tina Charles takes them.
What do you think? Let us know your thoughts and we’ll tweet out some of our favorite responses!