Here come the Sun — Must-click women’s basketball links — Hear from Lin Dunn
The IX: Basketball Wednesday with Howard Megdal, Nov. 23, 2022
Happy Basketball Wednesday and Thanksgiving Eve! We in the media got the chance to chat with Stephanie White, new head coach of the Connecticut Sun, and team president Jen Rizzotti on Tuesday. It was interesting both for what was said and what was left unsaid.
(Note: we’ll be off tomorrow for Thanksgiving, but back with Eleni for Hockey Friday!)
White has already spoken about playing a style that reflects the way Las Vegas and Chicago do, even with a roster that is big-heavy. Notably, with Brionna Jones a free agent and likely to get PAID this offseason, and the Sun with limited salary cap space to do so, that frees the team up to give more minutes to Alyssa Thomas and Jonquel Jones.
White was quick to sing Thomas’ praises, too, comparing her to Tamika Catchings, a player you might have heard of, from White’s last WNBA head coaching gig with the Indiana Fever.
“In terms of similarities is, you know, in Indiana we had we had great players,” White said. We had a superstar in Tamika Catchings. We had players who understood their role, but more than anything, we had the grit, toughness, that competitiveness and a fire that was led by Tamika Catchings and we have that same thing here — and Alyssa Thomas’ toughness, the grit, the competitive nature that permeates the organization, it permeates the team. And the expectation is to compete everyday like that. And so that is that is one of the things that really drew me to this team and to this organization.”
Thomas? Of course, vital to the team. But not mentioned? Jonquel Jones. So I asked Rizzotti about Jones specifically, and her was her answer.
“I think Stephanie’s a long way from deciding exactly what she’s gonna run next year,” Rizzotti said. “But I think when you look at the last two WNBA champions, you see a style that really fits where the game has evolved, both in the NBA and the WNBA. And so it doesn’t mean it’s a style where you never have anybody with their back to the basket — because obviously we’ve been able to dominate in the paint with Jonquel with Brionna Jones and with Alyssa Thomas — but it’s about how you get them there. And it’s going to be Stephanie’s job to figure out the actions that put our players in a position to be successful.”
It’s interesting both to see the Sun highlight AT as first among equals, and JJ as another big, when Jonquel Jones is both the only one of the trio to win an MVP and the player who most obviously fits in the system both Rizzotti and White are praising. It sure seems like a chance to redefine around Jones, right? Especially with Jones under contract and much younger than Thomas.
But that’s not what Connecticut did. And it bears watching what that means for the offseason moves to come. Several WNBA front office members took note of this omission in conversations with me.
As for who will make them: Rizzotti hopes to have a general manager in place over the next few weeks, along with White’s assistants. Free agency is almost here, friends!
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