Sun rookie Brionna Jones likes getting physical

Two things that most commonly cause "OMG" moments for WNBA rookies is the difference in speed and physicality from the college game.

Connecticut Sun rookie post Brionna Jones doesn't mind the smashing. She embraces it.

"I knew it was going to be more physical, but I kind of feel like I can bang more," Jones said. "If I hit somebody in college, they'd fall over (and she'd get a foul).

"(Physicality) is my game."

Jones has been given time to get acclimated by the Sun, who host the Dallas Wings on Wednesday at Mohegan Sun Arena (7 p.m.)

Jones is built for scrums inside the paint (she's 6-foot-3, 230 pounds). She led Division I in field goal percentage in both her junior (.665) and senior (.690) seasons at Maryland. She averaged 19.9 points and 10.9 rebounds in her senior year.

Connecticut never expected Jones to still be available when it picked eighth overall in the WNBA Draft and scooped her up. She's played sparingly (5.9 minutes per game), but received extended minutes (15) in last Friday's game against the physical New York Liberty when starter Jonquel Jones got in foul trouble. Jones had five rebounds, including three offensive.

"One thing deceiving about Brionna is she's really long," Sun coach Curt Miller said. "That helped us the other night with offensive rebounds. Even when she wasn't corralling rebounds, she kept balls alive with tips. She's more of a defensive factor with her length than people give her credit for. She'll continue to grow and get better in terms of her footwork and speed in a short area.

"I'm excited about her growth. She certainly has an opportunity to be a long-time pro."

Jones is also keeping her eye on her future. She was a pre-med student at Maryland and graduated a year early with a bachelor's degree in kinesiology. She wants to be a pediatrician and plans on taking her Medical College Admission Test during the offseason. She will also join Sun guard Alex Bentley in Russia to play for Nadezhda Orenburg.

"I love working with kids, working with them at camps and things like that," Jones said. "I go to the hospitals and see the kids and how hopeful they are about whatever situation they're in."

Connecticut (19-10) and the Wings (14-16) split their first two meetings. Dallas is fighting for one of the three remaining playoff berths and will be without post Glory Johnson. She was suspended one game for throwing a punch at Matee Ajavon of the Atlanta Dream on Saturday.

Johnson is a matchup nightmare for any team. She's averaged 14.7 points and is the league's fifth-leading rebounder (9.1). Dallas guard Skylar Diggins-Smith is the league's seventh-leading scorer (18.2).

"They're going to be mad that Glory was suspended and come in with a little chip on their shoulder and have a point to prove," Miller said.

The Sun are third in the overall WNBA standings and hope to earn a top-four seed. The odds are against them catching the Minnesota Lynx (23-6) or Los Angeles Sparks (21-8) for the top two seeds, which receive two byes each into the semifinals. The third and fourth seeds get a bye to the second round.

Connecticut has clinched a home playoff game and can't finish worse than sixth. It announced Tuesday that it would play on Sept. 7 (first round) if it's the fifth or sixth seed, or on Sept. 10 (second round) if it's the third or fourth seed. The first two rounds are single-elimination.

• The Sun are collecting canned goods and non-perishable food items as part of their food drive contest against the Phoneix Mercury. Collection bins will be set up on the Mohegan Sun Arena concourse Wednesday and Friday.

n.griffen@theday.com

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