The Middletown Press (Middletown, CT)
Behind CT Sun’s strong start to new era: ‘Different type of energy’
UNCASVILLE — New season. New coaching staff. New players. New vibe.
The Connecticut Sun began a new era under the leadership of first-year coach Stephanie White with a win over the Washington Mystics in the home opener at Mohegan Sun Arena Sunday afternoon.
The 80-74 win kicked off a new chapter for the franchise and showed what may lie ahead for the Sun. The team has started the season 2-0 following a win at Indiana Friday, showing some of the same traits of the WNBA finalist from last year.
“They’re just tough,” White said. “They understand how to make winning plays, whether that’s on the defensive end and getting the big stuff, getting the critical rebound. You know, getting a big score, and just finding ways to win ballgames.”
White was hired as head coach after Curt Miller left for the Los Angeles Sparks. There were also roster changes.
But even with the changes, one thing remains the same from the Miller era: the defensive mindset. The Sun’s returning core set the tone on the defensive end in the home opener.
White is relying on those returning players to lead.
“This is a group that’s really connected on the defensive end of the floor. You know, we’re working to try to get more connected offensively (and) defensively, it’s their communication,” White said. “And we’ve made a concerted effort defensively to send off on to the defensive glass and to box out.”
The Sun has been known for their aggressive defense. The team under Miller prided itself on the ability to force steals, crash the boards and show grit in the defensive paint.
The reason why the defense has remained consistent under new stewardship is because of their returning core four: two-time WNBA champion DeWanna Bonner, three-time WNBA All-Star Alyssa Thomas, WNBA Sixth Player of the Year Brionna Jones and Natisha Hiedeman.
Washington made 27 of 69 shots, as the Sun held the Mystics to 39.1% from the field.
Locked-in defense is usually rewarded with fast break opportuni