The Connecticut Sun are 4-1 But They've Only Played Three Teams
The Sun have won four games already this season, but there’s a catch. They’ve been against the same two teams.
The Connecticut Sun are 4-1, dropping a game to the New York Liberty on May 27, 2023. Their four wins were against the Washington Mystics and the Indiana Fever. That’s all. They have already played the Mystics and Fever twice this season, having played the Fever in their season opener and the Mystics in their home opener in the following game. Two days after the Sun’s May 21st home opener, they headed down to D.C. for another challenge versus the well-coached, highly skilled Washington team. From D.C. was a trip to the Big Apple to face the New York Liberty. After the Big Apple was a trip back home to Mohegan Sun Arena for another rematch against the Indiana Fever and Aliyah Boston.
Friday, May 19: Connecticut Sun at Indiana Fever, 70-61 Sun win
The Sun’s season opener against the Fever, who were 5-31 last season, was a tightly contested match but the Sun edged out the Fever 70-61. The game saw Connecticut’s big three: Alyssa Thomas, DeWanna Bonner, and Brionna Jones all score in double digits. While the number one pick in the 2023 draft, Aliyah Boston dropped 15 points in her WNBA debut.
The Sun had a new look as head coach Stephanie White is starting to implement a stronger offense while keeping the core idea of defense at the forefront. Under Curt Miller, the Sun was one of the strongest defensive teams in the league by leaps and bounds but the offense wasn’t always up to par, with scoring droughts being far too frequent, and too costly last season. The Sun were still a strong offensive team under Miller but similar themes of long-scoring droughts could be found in losses. The Sun led the Fever on May 19, by 15 points after three quarters but the Fever didn’t go down without a fight, cutting the deficit to three before Thomas scored six points in 70 seconds to help secure the Sun’s first win of the season.
Sunday, May 21: Washington Mystics at Connecticut Sun, 80-74 Sun win
Two days later, the Sun opened at home, against the Washington Mystics. The Mystics were 22-14 last season and won their first game of the regular season against the New York Liberty. A team with Elena Delle Donne, Natasha Cloud, Ariel Atkins, and Shakira Austin is no easy team to beat and the Mystics proved that in the first three quarters of the game.
The Mystics took a commanding lead throughout the first quarter, leading by 10 at the quarter break. Connecticut was unable to find a rhythm throughout the first 10 minutes which DeWanna Bonner commented on post-game, exclaiming, “I have no idea why we were missing that many shots in the first quarter!”
But if the Sun knows how to do anything, it's battle back. And a battle, the rest of the game was. The Sun outscored the Mystics in the final three quarters, eventually taking the lead on a Brionna Jones put-back at the 8:35 mark in the fourth. “Breezy” and AT both recorded double-doubles as the Sun stayed in the lead for the final eight minutes of the quarter to stay undefeated and give their home fans something to cheer about. As DeWanna Bonner said, “I believe in our team so much… it doesn't matter if we are down 20 or 1, I still believe in everything we do. No way we were losing this home opener,” which head coach Stephanie White backed up saying in her post-game statement:
“I am just really proud of our group. You guys have seen this team. They’re tough, they understand how to make winning plays; whether that’s on the defensive end getting a big stop, getting a critical rebound, getting a big score, and just finding ways to win ball games.”
Tuesday, May 23: Connecticut Sun at Washington Mystics, 88-81 Sun win
This beginning portion of the season has consisted of extremely tight turnarounds as the Sun and Mystics both headed down to D.C. to play each other, again, two days later. But this time at the Mystics’ house. It’s no easy feat to play games two days apart, and it is especially not easy to play the same exact team two days apart. Yet, this game on May 23 was nearly the exact opposite of the game we saw played in Uncasville, 48 hours prior. Down in D.C, viewers saw a back-and-forth game with the Sun leading by a point going into the half-time break. The Sun hit the 20-point mark in every quarter of this game, showing that their offense is ready to play. Thomas recorded yet another double-double with 22 points and 10 rebounds to lead Connecticut to victory.
Saturday, May 27: Connecticut Sun at New York Liberty, 81-65 Liberty win
From D.C. was a trip to New York where the Sun faced the new-look Liberty. The Liberty added Courtney Vandersloot, Breanna Stewart, and former Sun player, Jonquel Jones to their team this offseason, making them one of the most talented teams in the league on paper. Stewart was coming off a historic game against the Indiana Fever, scoring 45 points, setting a new career-high for herself and a new franchise scoring record for the Liberty. She is on a roll this season, as the Sun failed to effectively slow her down in this match-up, posting another 21 points. After the first quarter, the Sun did not score more than 15 points in a quarter, showing that there is still lots of room for growth and improvement on the offensive end of the court. Despite this, the Sun did lead at half, 38-32 before Breanna Stewart found her groove in the third and scored 11 of her 21 total points.
As for the Sun’s leading scorers, Alyssa Thomas failed to register a fourth straight double-double, only recording five points in this game. Looking at an overall box score, this low number from Thomas, plus the four fouls she picked up, certainly did not help the Sun as the lead for the Liberty grew into the fourth quarter. Tiffany Hayes, on the other hand, scored 16 points, leading the Sun as she has worked to find her rhythm in the new team.
Tuesday, May 30: Indiana Fever at Connecticut Sun, 81-78 Sun win
Tiffany Hayes continued her scoring with a season-high of 22 points against the Fever on May 30, helping secure yet another tally in the win column for the Sun. Brionna Jones saw herself score a season-high 19 points which was very much needed as the Fever were not backing down on Tuesday evening. Connecticut was able to edge out an 81-78 win but Aliyah Boston did not make it easy for them, scoring 20 points in only her fourth WNBA game.
This game also saw DiJonai Carrington reach double-digit minutes for the first time this season. Last season, Carrington averaged 17.5 minutes but had only played a total of three minutes prior to the game on the 30th. She did not appear in either game against the Mystics, causing some questions to arise from fans as to why she wasn’t seeing any playing time. Carrington provides great energy, on and off the bench, and proved last season that she can make things happen.
In the second game of the Sun’s postseason series against the Dallas Wings last season, down big in the fourth quarter, Carrington was a large part of the group that helped spur some motivation and energy into the team to help cut the deficit. While Connecticut still dropped game two, the momentum gained in those final minutes allowed them to go to Texas and take game three. Carrington was able to deliver two clutch threes for the Sun in this game and hopefully, this will lead to more minutes as the season progresses.
Alyssa Thomas was on triple-double watch toward the end of this game, with 13 points, 17 rebounds, and 7 assists. While she was unable to reach a triple-double, she recorded her fourth double-double of the season. With Thomas ticking, the Sun’s offense will continue to be effective. One of the most veteran players on a young team, Thomas brings both experience and leadership to the table while being one of the strongest players on the court at any given time. Thomas’s game has it all which helps her to be one of the strongest on the court: she can screen, she can run to the rim, and she can defend just about anyone. If Thomas can stay hot, she and the Sun have a good chance at another playoff run and Thomas could see herself in the conversation for MVP.
The Connecticut Sun may have only won against two teams so far this season, but with their current form, this is not going to last. They face off against the Minnesota Lynx on June 1, 2023, at 8:00 PM EST on Prime Video.