The 2021 Connecticut Sun were a historically great regular season team. Their 26-6 record tied their franchise record for wins in a season. The coach and multiple players took home major awards. They led the league in rebounding and had a suffocating defense.
All of this success, however, was washed from many fans’ minds after another disappointing outcome in the postseason. Fans and media often cling onto the most recent result, and that type of recency bias distorts perceptions of this incredible roster.
Take the defending champion Chicago Sky for example. Chicago stumbled through the regular season, but put it all together (and got healthy) in time for an impressive postseason run. If they had fallen in the single elimination game, they would have been remembered as a mediocre, disappointing team. With the outcome of a championship, they’ll forever be remembered as a dominant force.
Since the Sun weren’t able to get over the hump, narratives this offseason have run wild: They should blow it up. They can’t win in the postseason. This team needs major changes. They burned themselves out in the postseason.
If you’re wondering how the Connecticut Sun feel about these narratives, look no further than Coach and GM Curt Miller’s actions (or lack thereof) this offseason. By essentially running back the same roster for 2022, Miller’s confidence in his squad is readily apparent.
First Order of Business: Secure Jonquel
Many decisions in life take careful thought and consideration. Re-signing the league’s reigning MVP, who’s in her athletic prime, is not one of those decisions. “You’re the face [of the franchise], we’ve gotta bring you back”, said Miller when reflecting on his decision to prioritize the signing of Jones early in the free agency period.
Jones posted 18 double-doubles last season and was a dominant force on both ends of the court. Her 19.4 points per game and 2.8 assists per game averages were both career highs. Jonquel has a well-established reputation of being the best rebounder in the game in recent years.
The 6’6″ superstar forward was assigned the core designation by the Sun and is being brought back on what has been reported by the team as a multi-year contract.
A Familiar Face Returns to the Roster
Dynamic guard Courtney Williams, who previously played for the Sun from 2016-2019, has landed back in Connecticut. Curt Miller raved about his previous experience coaching Williams during Wednesday’s media availability.
Williams increased her three-point shooting volume last season with Atlanta and still managed to shoot over 38% from deep. Also known for her elite mid-range ability, Williams’ offensive ability is a key element of what the Sun were looking to add to their roster. “Adding a closer like Courtney in close games was something that we were looking for in this offseason”, Miller told HoopSocial.
Her rebounding and defense is another reason the Sun’s management and active roster were so active in recruiting Williams back to the team.
The signing of Williams is made that much more important by the departure of Briann January. Her elite perimeter defense will be missed, but Miller is confident that Williams can be the primary point of attack defender for his team this season.
Getting Over the Hump in the Postseason
With Alyssa Thomas largely unavailable last season, the Sun made an intentional pivot. They played at a slower pace and leaned into defense and rebounding. With a healthy Thomas and the signing of Courtney Williams, Miller believes that they can effectively increase pace and limit the turnovers that plagued them in the playoffs. They plan to continue to play through Jonquel, but having the ability to give opposing teams varied looks in the postseason is a crucial piece to winning multiple series.
When asked about the team’s championship window, Miller told reporters that his team is “really hungry to win a championship”. He went on to point out that the Sun have won the most regular season games in the league since 2017, but acknoweldged “we’re in pro sports, and it’s all about a championship”.
Curt reflected on the fine line between winning and losing in the playoffs. “My takeaway was: I have to be better. I didn’t adjust to one offensive scheme [against Chicago]… that haunts me”, Miller reflected.
The pieces are in place. The championship window is open. It’s time for the Sun to shine bright in 2022.