2005 In Review:
What Went Right?
It can certainly be argued that the Sun were the best team in the league last year and that only Linday Whalen's knee and ankle injuries kept them from the title. With four All-Star calibur starters and a fifth, Margo Dydek, who led the league in blocks, it's hard to find a weakness on this team. The Sun get it done on both ends of the floor, leading the league in field goal percentage and field goal percentage defense last season. They can run and they can play in the halfcourt. The can shoot from the perimeter and they can score down low.
The Sun return all five starters this season. Nykesha Sales finished sixth in the league in scoring last season at 15.6 points per game and was one of the best three-point shooters in the league at .422. Taj McWilliams-Franklin was fourth in the league in rebounding at 7.3 boards per game. Lindsay Whalen was third in the league in assists at 5.1 dimes per game. Margo Dydek led the league in blocks with 2.29 per game. Katie Douglas was the glue, finishing second on the team in assists (2.9), steals (1.50) and total three pointers (31), and third in rebounds (4.06) while earning WNBA First Team All-Defense honors.
It's not like the Sun didn't have a bench either. None of the starters were in the top 15 of the league in minutes per game. Asjha Jones was arguably the best sub in the league, averaging 9.1 points and 3.7 boards per game, while Brooke Wyckoff (taken by Chicago in the expansion draft last November) and Jennifer Derevjanik each provided valuable minutes off the bench as well.
What Went Wrong?
Not much. Everything was going just fine until Lindsay Whalen injured her left knee in the final game of the Eastern Conference Finals. She gave it a go in game one of the WNBA Finals, but she then sprained her ankle. After missing game two, she came back for games three and four, but she wasn't herself. She lost all her quickness and couldn't penetrate, making the Sun offense far less effective. The team that had averaged 72.8 points per game in the regular season and 74.5 in the Eastern Conference playoffs was limited to just 64.0 in the Finals.
This winter, Whalen discovered that she had actually torn ligaments in the ankle. She had surgery and is expected to miss all of training camp.
Looking Ahead To 2006:
The Sun don't have a first round pick, so their only selections are at the end of the second and third rounds (numbers 28 and 42). It will be tough to get an impact player there. This winter, they signed Donna Loffhagen, a free agent from New Zealand who was the top rebounder at the 2004 Olympics.