(1st in East)
(4th overall, 2nd in East)
2304 (9th overall, 4th in East)
+0.9 (5th overall, 1st in East)
Award Winners & Honorees
Nykesha Sales, Second Team
2004 Draft Recap
Rd. 1 - 4, Lindsay Whalen
2 - 16, Jessica Brungo
Rd. 2 - 24, Ugo Oha
Rd. 3 - 29, Candace Futrell
Three out of six years
to WNBA Finals
What Went Right?
In a word … everything went
right for the Sun, who welcomed six new players last season - including five rookies
- and still came within a jump shot of a WNBA title.
Head Coach Mike Thibault was able to integrate the young talent with an
existing core of veterans. It wasn't easy, as evidenced by the 4-7 start, but
a six-game winning streak vaulted the Sun into the race. With five wins in the
final six games, Connecticut captured the division title in a tiebreaker. After
toppling Washington and New York in the Eastern Conference Playoffs, the Sun extended
Seattle to a decisive game in their first WNBA Finals appearance. Thibault was
runner-up in Coach of the Year balloting, and he and his assistant coaches were
awarded contract extensions through 2008.
Last year, shrewd off-season maneuvering
enabled the Sun to tab Lindsay
Whalen with the fourth pick in the NBA Draft. The rookie finished fifth in
the league in assists, and averaged 13.4 ppg and 5.1 apg in the playoffs. She
ran the offense and, says Thibault, "made passing contagious. She's our John Stockton."
a team, the Sun dished a franchise-record 572 assists, including career highs
from Nykesha Sales (97) and
Katie Douglas (90). Sales,
the perennial All-Star, averaged 15.2 ppg to lead the Sun. Taj
McWilliams-Franklin (12.1 ppg) and Douglas (10.7) scored in double figures.
In training camp a year ago, Brooke
Wyckoff suffered a torn ACL in her right knee, ending her season before it
started. Wendy Palmer performed capably, but Wyckoff was missed, especially when
Palmer was injured during the Finals. The 6-1 Wyckoff returns in good health,
giving the Sun a battle-tested veteran who can step in if Palmer, a free agent,
is not re-signed.
Three starters (McWilliams-Franklin, Sales, Douglas), averaged
better than 32 minutes per game; Whalen topped 30 minutes per contest. Among the
reserves, only Asjha Jones played
more than 12 minutes a night, so depth was a concern with so many rookies in tow.
concern of Thibault's was the Sun's inability to dominate on the home court. Playing
to enthusiastic crowds in basketball-crazy Connecticut in the league's coziest
venue, the Sun was only 10-7 on its home floor. A few extra wins might have meant
home court for the WNBA Finals, a series in which the home team won every game.
2004 Starting Lineup
G- Lindsay Whalen
F- Nykesha Sales
F- Wendy Palmer-Daniel
C- Taj McWilliams-Franklin
Ahead To 2005:
Coming off an Eastern Conference Championship, the Sun enter the 2005
season with fewer questions than most teams.
Will depth remain a concern? Le'Coe
Willingham, Candace Futrell,
Jessica Brungo and Jen
Derevjanik won't enter the 2005 season as rookies this time around. Their
seasoning alone should make the Sun a deeper team than it was a year ago.
the eighth pick in the draft, the Sun could add another role player. With so many
pieces in place now, however, it is just as likely that the team could deal the
pick for a veteran that could help them take the next step. Would one more veteran
be enough to make them a favorite to repeat as conference champ?
between success and failure in the East is slim. Though the Sun advanced to the
Finals, they were 18-16 and only two games away from the lottery. Though hardly
dominant, the Sun faces heightened expectations in 2005 and they can expect every
opponent to bring its 'A' game. Can the Sun handle the additional pressure?