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Chiney Ogwumike had some free time last week having already graduated from Stanford, so the Connecticut Sun rookie decided to get an early start on her new gig by going through individual workouts with head coach Anne Donovan.
"It's great," Donovan said. "It takes a special kind of player that wants to be here (early) for a workout."
WNBA training camps opened yesterday, and Donovan was somewhere between giddy and tickled last week. Ogwumike began working out with her last Wednesday. Center Yelena Leuchanka signed a one-year non-guaranteed contract the following day.
Leuchanka has played just 61 games over four seasons and has had to juggle her commitments to the Belarusian national team. She didn't play in the league last season.
"I have a mutual friend of Yelena and actually got to sit and speak with her socially (last year)," Donovan said. "It brought back my memory because I remember her as a player at West Virginia and a couple of years in the league. I thought she was going to be really, really good, and then so became more absent than present with her national team commitments, or not getting on the floor a lot.
"She and Katie (Douglas) are good friends, so she put in a good word for her. Her national team commitments aren't until after the season, so she'll be with the (Sun) through the whole season."
It isn't known when Leuchanka will arrive as the she's in the process of getting her Visa.
"I would say she's definitely in the (post) mix because, again, she hasn't played (in the WNBA)," Donovan said. "She's played overseas and done well. My recollection (of her) is a long time ago, so I'm eager to see her again. You've got to love 6-foot-5 and mobile. It's a good place for her to start."
Leuchanka, along with veteran forward Kelsey Griffin, second-year center Kelsey Bone, and rookie forwards Alyssa Thomas and Ogwumike give El Sol a post rotation with intriguing potential, even if "potential" means, "hasn't done a dang thing yet."
"I love the mix that we got," Donovan said, "but I think one thing that really stands out is that we're not really experienced in the post. It's another reason why we went after Yelena, someone who has been around the block a little bit. Kelsey Griffin comes back with a ton of experience and confidence, and then Kelsey Bone, she's only played one year, but she got a lot of experience in the Turkish League.
"I like the size that we have and the depth that we're going to have."
Donovan said that El Sol is "pretty much done" making any further moves. What youse sees is whats you gets.
"I'm pretty excited about what we have," Donovan said. "If I had one wish, it would probably be to have another shooter. I don't know if we can't fill that need with some of the players that we have."
Ten of the El Sol's 17 contracted players are noobs, and they'll have little time to get acclimated. They play host to New York next Sunday in their first preseason game. The teams will meet again on May 8 at the World's Most Famous Arena, and will open the regular season against one another at Neon Uncasville (TM Mike DiMauro) on May 16.
"I love the new blood that we have and how it compliments players like Alison (Hightower) and Kelsey in terms of blue-collar work ethic," Donovan said. "You have to do the dirty work and understand that those details are going to be important to get the win. We have that kind of collection here.
"I don't think we have too many players who have proven themselves. … but that promises hunger. Moving forward, we are going to be a team-first type of team. When the prevalent thought is, "team first", everyone can catch that."
Danielle McCray, Renee Montgomery, Bone and Hightower are expected to arrive later this week as they wrap up their respective overseas commitments.
Thanks for reading. More later.