Connecticut Sun: 2007 Preview
The Sun had the best regular season record for the second year in a row in 2006, yet they were a no show in the WNBA Finals after they were defeated by Detroit in the Eastern Conference Finals. Their record merely reflected their talented roster. And this year's team will still return an impressive four players from last year's Eastern Conference All-Star Team.
Lindsey Whalen is really your prototypical point guard: a solid passer, finisher and playmaker. She scored 9.0 points a game and averaged 4.6 assists and 3.7 boards per contest - all the while hitting 90% of her free throws -- and will continue to be a catalyst for the Sun on offense.
All-Star forward Nykesha Sales will also be back in Sun gear. The well-rounded wing out of UConn can score on the drive, shoot from beyond the arc and is a solid defender. Last season, she compiled averages of 13.0 points, 3.7 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.2 steals per game.
Returning at center is 7-2 Polish veteran Margo Dydek. She may be best known for her phenomenal defense, having led the league in blocks with 2.5 a game, but she can also score, posting 9.4 points and 6.1 boards a night.
NOT COMING BACK
Veteran forward/center Taj McWilliams-Franklin was traded to Los Angeles Sparks during the offseason, and she will definitely be missed. A 2006 All-Star, McWilliams Franklin was second best in the league and tops on her team in rebounds averaging 9.6 per game.
The Sun have also lost backup point guard Erin Phillips for the season due to an ACL injury she suffered while playing at home in Australia.
In the McWilliams-Franklin trade, the Sun picked up 6-5 Brazilian center Erika De Souza, who hasn't seen much playing time in the WNBA, but could make a significant contribution in the paint.
Via free agency, the Sun also added seven-year veteran Kristen Rasmussen, who comes to Connecticut by way of Phoenix where she averaged 4.3 points a game last season. She will see plenty of minutes off the bench.
Aside from Taj, all of the Sun's All-Stars will be back and the team has brought in several talented newcomers. As long as Coach Thibault can find a way to compensate for McWilliams-Franklin's inside post presence -- with some combination of Jones, De Souza and Rasmussen -- this team is good enough to reach the WNBA Finals. They have all the elements of a championship squad.
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