18-16, .529 (3rd in East)
2007 Starting Lineup
2007 Key Reserves
2007 Draft Recap
2008 Key Additions
2008 Key Losses
After sending Taj McWilliams-Franklin to Los Angeles in a trade prior to the 2007 season, the Connecticut Sun were forced to adapt to playing without the veteran big. The team missed her leadership early on as they stumbled out of the gate to a 6-10 record. But the Sun found their groove on a West Coast road trip just before the All-Star break when they defeated Sacramento, Los Angeles and Seattle. At the close of the regular season the Sun had managed to compile an 18-16 record and earn a spot in the postseason. Unfortunately, Connecticut suffered a heartbreaking loss to Indiana in a memorable first-round matchup.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Guard/forward Katie Douglas started all 34 games and was once again a major component of the team’s success. She led Connecticut in scoring -- averaging 17 points -- and was her usual aggressive self the defensive end, she, finishing fourth in the league with 1.9 steals per game.
Running with Douglas in the back court was point guard Lindsay Whalen, who averaged 13.5 points and remained one of the top distributors in the WNBA. Whalen finished the season only percentage points behind San Antonio’s Becky Hammon for the highest assist average in the league with 4.97 dishes per game.
All-Star Asjha Jones joined the Sun’s starting five in style in 2007, becoming a powerful force inside the paint. She averaged 15.3 points per game, up almost four points from last season. In addition to scoring, she also contributed 6.1 rpg, helping Connecticut finish second in the league on the boards with a team average of 38.6 rpg.
The 7-2 Margo Dydek used her height and strength to grab easy baskets in the paint (6.7 ppg) and defend opponents (a league-leading 2.1 bpg). She was also the team’s top rebounder with 6.5 rpg.
WHAT WENT WRONG
In the first half of the season it was obvious the team was affected by the loss of McWilliams-Franklin. They lacked a strong leader and an All-Star caliber post player she previously gave them. Finding team chemistry and learning to compensate for the hole that their former leader left took a toll on the team early on, but they were eventually able to put the pieces together and make a postseason appearance.
Guard/forward Nykesha Sales, who has been with the team since it arrived in Connecticut, averaged solid numbers of 13.1 points, 3.2 assists and 4.0 rebounds over 26 games. However, she played through a rash of injuries all year and was never able to compete at 100 percent. As a result, the 31-year-old Sales will take off the 2008 WNBA season to let her body recover.
Over the past year or so the core that led the Connecticut Sun to back-to-back WNBA Finals appearances (2004, ’05) has been dwindling away. After seeing McWilliams-Franklin head to LA prior to last season, this year the Sun will be without Douglas, Sales and Dydek.
The loss of Douglas, who was sent to her native state of Indiana in a trade with the Fever, should affect the Sun the most. She led the team in minutes played (33.3 pg), scoring (17 pg) and three-pointers (68) and was second in assists (3.7 pg) and steals (1.91 pg). Not only will the departure of the seven-year vet put a significant amount of weight on the shoulders of Whalen, but it will also force coach Mike Thibault to re-think the team's style of play and starting five.
In return for Douglas, Connecticut received Tamika Whitmore, a first-round pick and the rights to guard Jessica Foley from Indiana. Whitmore, a nine-year vet, averaged 10.9 points and 5.0 rebounds per game for the Fever last season and will likely be inserted in the starting lineup and play big minutes with Jones up front.
Her addition is crucial for Connecticut since Dydek will not take part in the 2008 season due to her pregnancy. The 6-4 Sandrine Gruda, the team’s first-round selection from last year’s draft, is set to make her debut with the team this year and could also help fill the void left by Dydek.
Sales will also take a year off from the game, which should allow Evanthia Maltsi, a 2007 mid-season signee, the opportunity to take on a bigger role in ‘08.
As a result of the above losses and others (Erika Desouza, Kristen Rasmussen, Megan Mahoney and Le’coe Willingham), the Sun have been busy revamping their roster in preparation for 2008, adding Barbara Turner and Tamika Raymond. Having two first-round picks (Nos. 9 and 12) and four selections overall in the 2008 WNBA Draft should also help in that process.
There’s a good chance with the losses of Douglas and Dydek that the Sun will try to add depth at the shooting guard and center positions through the draft. But having two first-round picks offers Connecticut some flexibility and the opportunity to take a risk, perhaps through packaging them to move up to draft a more WNBA-ready prospect or by going after a raw talent with unpolished skills.
Whatever route the Sun take, how well they draft will play a pivotal role in whether they can return to the postseason.