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Connecticut finally has everyone together.
Now the Sun has to figure out what to do with all these players.
Center Yelena Leuchanka practiced with El Sol on Saturday for the first time. Fellow center Kelsey Bone was scheduled to arrive Saturday night, the last player to get to training camp.
Connecticut has 14 players under contract. Half are new, and that doesn’t include Danielle McCray, who missed last season’s stank because of a torn Achilles. Everyone is still getting used to one another.
Two of the 14 players must go before the end of the week because teams can only carry a maximum of 12 players.
El Sol also begins the regular season at home Friday against former Sun Tina Charles and the New York Liberty.
“I’m still trying to make decisions, but I’m also trying to get rotations down with at least two new starters,” Connecticut coach Anne Donovan said at Saturday’s practice. “Katie (Douglas) and Chiney (Ogwumike) are both new starters for us, so we’re still trying to develop that chemistry and make decisions at the same time.”
The cuts will be the roughest decision. Donovan said she plans to keep five posts and seven “guards/perimeter players”.
Kelley Cain, Kelsey Griffin, Kayla Pedersen, Alyssa Thomas, Bone, Leuchanka and Ogwumike are El Sol’s posts.
“I think we’re probably going to go to the very end so we can figure out those last cuts,” Donovan said. “It’s going to be tough. I mean Kelley Cain has made a great case for herself. She’s done very good things for us. Kayla Pedersen has come back and been a completely different player.
“It’s been a little bit difficult because I still don’t know where Bone fits in exactly. I know she’s going to be on the team, that’s not a question, but just how she’s going to fit. Kelley Cain has a big body (6-foot-6, 220 pounds). These are the two biggest bodies I have. Is Bone going to be enough?”
Connecticut’s guards are Alex Bentley, Kelly Faris, Kalana Greene, Allison Hightower, Danielle McCray (who can play the three), Renee Montgomery, and Douglas.
Donovan is adapting to the roster as El Sol should have good depth.
“I like to play seven, really eight (players),” Donovan said. “What I find now is that there’s so much down there on that bench that I know can help us. So I have to get more comfortable with resting Ali more than I did in the past; letting her play 28-to-30 minutes because, frankly, Danielle McCray is doing a great job (and) Thomas is doing a great job. So, yeah, I’m going to have to figure that out. I’m going to have to change.
“In terms of our offenses, were able to play differently this year. Last year, so much of what we did went inside to Tina. This year, we’re really spreading the wealth. The early sets we put in were for Katie primarily. Now we’re starting to get other sets in and make sure Chiney starts getting comfortable with looks. It’s nice. I think were a lot deeper team, not just in terms of our bench, but from where buckets are going to come from.”
Thomas has been one of the more intriguing players based on her size and skills. The Maryland rookie is listed at 6-foot-2, which is on the shorter side for a power forward. She doesn’t have the consistent long-range jumper that most threes do, either.
“You know, it’s funny,” Donovan said. “I told her from the very beginning, ‘you’re going to the perimeter, (but) you have to know the four (in case) I throw you down there. What it’s turned into is that I want her on the floor. So if that means she’s a three or a four, she tends to find her minutes, and she’ll probably continue all season in those spots. She does a nice job, and she’s really figured out how to play both spots. She does what she does, so whether it’s posting up a smaller guard, or battling with a true four, she can handle herself in the post, and then rebounding, she’s an asset no matter where she is.”
Asked if Thomas qualified as a “tweener”, Donovan said, “‘Tweener’, in my mind, has a negative connotation almost. That’s like a category of college kids who could never quite translate onto the perimeter. They’re like the small four players in college who couldn’t quite get the handle, couldn’t quite get the face-up game, and she has gotten it. So she’s a good tweener in the sense that you can use her in any place. It’s not like she’s still trying to transition. She’s done a great job already getting there. So from here, she can get better as a perimeter player, and she can get better as a post, but she’s already made that transition.”
That’s all for now. Thanks for reading.