Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Return of the Blog ... and Draft

Welcome back to the Norwich Bulletin Connecticut Sun blog! Apologies to those who have searched for it during the offseason. It was disabled from our Web site, but with the unofficial kick-off to the season today in the WNBA Draft, we're back rolling.

First, some basics about today's Draft. Round One is being broadcast on ESPN2 with the following rounds on ESPNU or NBA TV. If you haven't seen it in full yet, here's the complete draft order, starting with round one.

First Round:
1 Los Angeles Sparks
2 Chicago Sky
3 Minnesota Lynx
4 Detroit Shock (from Atlanta via Seattle)
5 Houston Comets
6 Washington Mystics
7 New York Liberty
8 Atlanta Dream
9 Connecticut Sun
10 Sacramento Monarchs
11 Detroit Shock (from San Antonio)
12 Connecticut Sun (from Indiana)
13 Phoenix Mercury
14 New York Liberty (from Detroit)

Second Round:
15 Los Angeles Sparks
16 Minnesota Lynx
17 Houston Comets
18 Detroit Shock (from Atlanta Dream)
19 Chicago Sky
20 Washington Mystics
21 San Antonio Silver Stars (from New York)
22 Seattle Storm
23 Connecticut Sun
24 Atlanta Dream (from Indiana Fever)
25 Phoenix Mercury (from San Antonio)
26 Indiana Fever
27 New York Liberty (from Phoenix)
28 Detroit Shock

Third Round
29 Los Angeles Sparks
30 Minnesota Lynx
31 Houston Comets
32 Atlanta Dream
33 Chicago Sky
34 Washington Mystics
35 New York Liberty
36 Seattle Storm
37 Connecticut Sun
38 Sacramento Monarchs
39 San Antonio Silver Stars
40 Sacramento Monarchs (from Indiana)
41 Phoenix Mercury
42 Detroit Shock
43 Sacramento Monarchs*

(* Sacramento has been granted an additional third-round pick by the league)

I'll have blog posts for every first-round pick and into the second and third, focusing mainly on the Sun's picks.

As illustrated in today's story, Connecticut needs guards. With the addition of the Tamikas (Whitmore and Raymond), Sandrine Gruda and Barbara Turner to a frontcourt that already includes All-Star Asjha Jones, the team needs to find replacements for Katie Douglas (traded to Indiana), Nykesha Sales (sitting out season) and for the first portion of the season, Erin Phillips, who'll return following the Olympic break. Lindsay Whalen signed a three-year contract this offseason and is expected to continue her All-star level play, but considering who the Sun get in the draft, they're expecting some competition around here, with Kamesha Hairston and Evina Maltsi also vying for increased roles.

Some key names to know, who the Sun may have a chance at getting (I'm not including Candice Wiggins here, for she'll be long gone by the time the Sun pick:
(1) Tennessee guard Alexis Hornbuckle: A good defender who showed an ability to hit huge shots in the NCAA tournament; the Sun would be lucky if she falls to them.
(2) Rutgers guard Matee Ajavon: a physical guard expected to show more offensive explosion at the pro level; like Hornbuckle, it'll be a surprise if she drops to the No. 9 pick.
(3) Rutgers guard/forward Essence Carson: The Big East's best defensive player the last three years, like Ajavon, Carson may have more offensive skill than the Rutgers system allowed her to show. It's a chance the Sun could take as they need to replace roughly 30 points per game with the departures of Douglas and Sales.
(4) Middle Tennessee State guard Amber Holt: A gifted scorer who averaged 27.2 points per game in the Sun Belt last season. As with all small-conference prospects, it's difficult to tell how that will translate to the pros, but she should be available at either No. 9 or 12 if the Sun want to roll the dice.
(5) James Madison guard Tamera Young: Chicago coach Steve Key said she created some of the biggest buzz at the pre-draft camp, that every coach took those workouts with a grain a salt as many of the top prospects (as many as 10 first-round picks) didn't attend.
(6) Others to look for: Notre Dame's Charel Allen, UConn's Ketia Swanier, Utah's Leilani Mitchell, Baylor's Angela Tisdale and LSU's Erica White.

The draft is expected to get underway in the next few minutes so check back here throughout the next two hours for updates.

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