Sun head to Chicago for two-game series
The Connecticut Sun are looking to find themselves while spending a few days in the Windy City and playing the Chicago Sky twice.
Connecticut had its first clunker of the WNBA season at home on Sunday against the defending champion Seattle Storm. The Sun fell behind by 26 points and were thumped, 89-66.
They begin the scheduling equivalent of a playoff series with games against Chicago on Thursday (8 p.m., Twitter) and Saturday afternoon at Wintrust Arena.
“We didn’t look like ourselves Sunday,” acting Connecticut coach Brandi Poole said. “I never felt like we could get into a flow offensively. We did a lot of self-scouting (Tuesday) before practice, especially on the defensive side of the ball where we can be better. We talked about the little things — our spacing, our timing, our screening angles. We just weren’t as sharp and crisp as we normally are.”
Adding to the Sun’s challenge is that they’ll be without head coach Curt Miller and starter Jonquel Jones. The team announced Tuesday that Miller had taken a temporary leave of absence and had traveled to Pennsylvania to tend to a family matter.
Jones will miss her second game as she’s with the Bosnia and Herzegovina national team at the FIBA Women's EuroBasket tournament in France and Spain. Jones, who was born and raised in the Bahamas, has Bosnian citizenship. The 6-foot-6 post has played at an MVP-like pace as she’s been one of the league’s best three-point shooters (48.9 percent) and was second in the league in scoring (21.6 ppg) and tops in rebounding (10.4) prior to Wednesday’s night.
The tournament runs from June 17-27. She’ll miss at least three games and potentially two more should Bosnia and Herzegovina reach the June 29 final.
Connecticut (8-3) trailed for all but the first minute on Sunday and shot 37.9 percent from the floor in the first half. It turned it over 19 times (for 28 points) and trailed by as much as 87-61 with 1 minute, 15 seconds left in the game.
The Sun were second in the league in defensive field goal percentage (40.1 percent) prior to that game. The Storm shot 48.6 percent.
“We didn’t really feel like ourselves,” Connecticut guard Jasmine Thomas said. “We were missing JJ, and we were dealing with DB (starting forward DeWanna Bonner) and her back a little bit. We weren’t 100 percent, but we still could’ve been so much better in so many areas, just with our execution on offense. We weren’t really moving the ball the way we wanted to, get into actions the way we wanted to, or screening and moving the way we wanted to.”
Bonner had her lower back flare up while lifting last Friday. She said Wednesday that she was feeling better.
Chicago (5-7) has won three straight after a rocky start due to injuries and absences. Two-time MVP Candace Parker, the biggest free agent acquisition of the off-season, missed eight games due to an ankle injury.
Starting guard Allie Quigley missed five games because of a hamstring injury.
Starting center Stefanie Dolson missed six games as she was helping the USA 3x3 national team win the FIBA 3x3 Olympic Qualifying tournament in May in Graz, Austria. Three-on-three basketball will make its Olympic debut this summer.
Chicago point guard Courtney Vandersloot became just the fourth player in WNBA history to reach 2,000 career assists during Tuesday’s 105-89 rout of the Minnesota Lynx. Seattle’s Sue Bird, Ticha Penicheiro and former Sun Lindsay Whalen are the others to reach that mark.
“It’s always been Sloot (as) the head of that monster,” Sun assistant coach Chris Koclanes said. “She orchestrates everything. She is pushing the tempo. Now, all the sudden, you have Parker (a 6-foot-4 forward-center) dribbling the ball up the floor just as much as Vandersloot. Right away, in transition, it’s just a headache because you’ve got to stop the ball and it’s a post player dribbling it up the floor. All the sudden, your matchups are out-of-whack. So they just put so much pressure on you. ... And then between Parker and Dolson, they’re very good facilitating post players.”