| 2006 Record|
(1st in East)
Award Winners & Honorees
2006 Draft Recap
Dispersal Draft Results
For the second year in a row, the Sun finished with the best regular season record in the league (26-8), but fell short of the ultimate prize. In addition to their wins, the Sun's superior talent was made evident in the five All-Star selections they earned in 2006. Margo Dydek, Lindsay Whalen and Nykesha Sales were chosen as starters and Katie Douglas and Taj McWilliams-Franklin (injury replacement player) were picked as reserves. Katie Douglas ultimately landed herself a spot in the starting lineup and made the most of the opportunity, earning the All-Star MVP award.
Douglas was not the only player who was hot on defense last year. 7-2 Margo Dydek led the league in blocked shots for the eighth time in her nine-year career, averaging 2.5 blocks per game. She holds the league career mark with 811 blocks.
The entire Sun team shined on defense, grabbing 37.3 rebounds and 4.5 steals per game. As the best team throughout the regular season, they naturally put up some impressive stats. But the most notable of all the numbers may have been their 80.7% clip from the free throw line, which was tops in the league.
Sun coach Mike Thibault must be commended for his role in the team's success. In fact, he was, winning Coach of the Year for the first time in his career. He led the team to a seven-game winning streak and encouragedg his team to play hard on both ends of the floor. Balanced scoring was key in Connecticut's victories as Douglas, Sales, McWilliams-Franklin and Jones all averaged above 10.0 ppg on the season.
The Sun may have been the two-time reigning Eastern Conference champs, but the rival Detroit Shock stole their glory in 2006. The Shock came into the Eastern Conference Finals full of energy after sweeping the Indiana Fever and bested the Sun in a hard-fought three-game series. Injuries to Katie Douglas and Nykesha Sales down the stretch really did them in.
Sales, the veteran All-Star forward, only played in 22 of 34 games this season. As a result, the team had the difficult task of compensating for a talented and versatile player who was pivotal to the team's success. Douglas also missed time in the playoffs and was limited on both ends of the floor against the Shock
Connecticut has had a consistent presence at or near the top of the standings for three straight years now, but has failed to earn a WNBA title. In order to improve upon 2006, the team needs to step up its play in big games. They have the talent. Now they just need to show that as a team they have the heart.
|Head Coach |
2006 Starting Lineup
-G- Lindsay Whalen
-G- Katie Douglas
-F- Nykesha Sales
-F- Taj McWilliams-Franklin
-C- Margo Dydek
Key 2006 Reserves
-Erin Phillips (injury)
Connecticut has been an elite team in the league and should remain that way this season after bringing back most of its nucleus for 2007. After re-signing Douglas, they still have all the ingredients to win a championship. It is simply a matter of taking those ingredients and cooking up a five-star team. Douglas has been playing overseas and has recovered from the hairline fracture. More than anything, her quick return to the hardwood demonstrates her desire to win. It is that type of desire and passion that Douglas will need to share with her teammates this season.
For the first time in her WNBA career, Douglas will be without Taj McWilliams-Franklin by her side. McWilliams-Frankilin, who has improved in just about every season of her career, was traded to the Sparks for Erika de Souza and the 12th pick in the 2007 WNBA Draft. Taj finished 2006 with 9.6 rpg (second in the league) and 12.8 ppg. She is irreplaceable in the locker room, though the Sun should have enough firepower to compensate for her departure. Can Lindsay Whalen pick up the scoring void a bit more in her fourth WNBA season? Is Asjha Jones ready to come in and start? De Souza was a rookie in 2006 and scored 1.1 ppg and 1.3 rpg. Despite the loss, having another first round draft pick and some new blood should help the team to stay in contention.
The Sun were dealt another blow when reserve point guard Erin Phillips was lost for the season with an injury while playing in her native Australia. Phillips provided a tremendous spark off the bench and offered a change of pace from Whalen. She will be missed.
Yet the Sun did sign a big body in the form of free agent Kristen Rasmussen. A forward who played for the Mercury last season, Rasmussen will add an inside presence, most likely off the bench. She finished last season with 4.8 ppg and 3.8 rpg. She will most likely add depth to the Sun's bench.
But the straw that stirs the drink is and always has been Nykesha Sales. She is only the second player in league history to reach 3,000 points, 500 assists and 400 steals for her career. In the end, only the Connecticut players themselves and another ill-timed injury can prevent the Sun from shining in 2007.