The Connecticut Sun stand out from the rest of the WNBA for more reasons than one.
Yes, Connecticut does have the league’s reining MVP in Jonquel Jones, who continues to transition into a superstar.
Sure, the Sun will enter the season with four 2021 All-Stars including the league’s Most Improved Player in Brionna Jones along with 12-year veteran DeWanna Bonner and sparkplug Courtney Williams.
And from an overall team perspective, Connecticut did have the league’s best defense one season ago.
But one additional reason why Connecticut has its sights set on the organization’s first WNBA title is because the Sun continue to have their group of core veterans intact.
Connecticut guard Jasmine Thomas has spent the last eight seasons with the organization while Alyssa Thomas has played for the team since she entered the league nine years ago. And then there’s Jonquel and Brionna Jones, each of whom will enter their sixth campaign with the Sun, along with the return of Williams, who is back with the organization she previously played three-plus seasons. All those players were with the Sun went they came up one game shy of the WNBA title in 2019.
It’s allowed the roster to build cohesion, which isn’t always the case in professional sports, or the WNBA.
“I mean, you’re comfortable with each other,” Jasmine Thomas said when asked about the veteran core. “That doesn’t always translate to chemistry right away, everyone changes and evolves over time, but I think we all generally understand the philosophy, we know the playbook, things like that. You’re not having to spend as much time learning or refreshing.
“And yeah, it’s not something you see a whole lot of,” Thomas continued. “I feel like that’s part of the reason why we’re so adamant about wanting to win the championship. We know this is not something that you get to be a part of all the time. It’s a special group and we want to win with this group.”
Jonquel Jones added while the connection isn’t something her and her teammates talk about, they’re all well-aware it exists.
“We don’t really talk about it, but I mean, you can feel it,” she said. “You just know where somebody likes the ball. it’s not a conversation that has to be had essentially, the type of plays to call for people to get them in the right positions.”
The type of cohesion, though, especially given that it’s not found often, now has caused a heightened importance entering 2022. After all, good things don’t last forever and there a number of players who have contracts that run out in the next year or two.
“There’s definitely an urgency,” Jasmine Thomas said. “I think, like with any organization, obviously the team never looks the same year to year. And having a core group together for this long, you never know what can happen after this. The urgency is definitely there.”
Hopefully for the Sun that urgency leads to results. There certainly is optimism it will.
“Well, we’re hoping to get a championship out of it. That’s for sure,” Jonquel Jones said. “We have all the pieces and all the capabilities to win a championship and so we want to go ahead and finish. This was the group that was there in 2019 and we feel like this is a group that can get there again and get over that hump.”
Connecticut will continue its 2022 campaign on Saturday against the Los Angeles Sparks, a game you can watch on NESN+ starting at 7 p.m. ET.