Friday, April 30, 2010

Some Sun events

Greetings all,

Apologies for the lack of blog posts with Sun training camp starting this week, but I just returned from a friend's wedding abroad. Besides getting a decent tan, I'm also feeling recharged to tackle the rest of camp and the preseason as the Sun prepare for their eighth season at Mohegan.

Check back tomorrow for some updates from camp at Connecticut College, but in the meantime, the Sun have announced a few offers fans may be interested in:

— Connecticut Sun fans who attend Tuesday’s morning preseason game against Atlanta (11 a.m., Mohegan Sun Arena) can present their ticket to eat two-for-one at either the Seasons or Sunburst Buffet at the casino following the game.

Those who present a season ticket card can also take part in the special.

— For the third straight year, the Sun are also hosting an open practice at St. Joseph College in West Hartford from 5-7 p.m. on Wednesday. As usual, the Sun will scrimmage at the O'Connell Center on campus. More info to follow.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Sun take Franklin Pierce's Leedham

The Sun finished up their draft with the 27th overall pick by taking 5-foot-11 guard/forward Johannah Leedham, an England native who played at Cheshire Academy and was a two-time Division II National Player of the Year at Franklin Pierce in Rindge, N.H.

She's also Division II's all-time leading scorer at 3,050 career points. The total is also the fifth most in any division all time.

A Lynx ... for 10 minutes

Interesting story behind Kelsey Griffin's draft day. Selected third overall by the Lynx in today's draft, the Nebraska star was in the middle of a photo shoot with a Minnesota jersey when she was told she had been traded to the Connecticut Sun. The news came roughly 10 minutes after the Lynx had picked her.

"And they said, 'Oh, you're probably going to have to change that to a Sun jersey,'" she said with a laugh over a teleconference with members of the Connecticut media.

Draft update: Fortunate Sun take Hightower

This is easily the most productive draft the Sun have ever had. Connecticut drafted LSU's Allison Hightower at No. 15, stealing an All-SEC First Team selection with the third pick of the second round.

If the Sun had gotten Hightower with the No. 7 overall pick, it wouldn't have been a stretch, but to get Hightower (18.5 points per game) where they did, the Sun have added a tough, defensive-minded guard who can also score.

Suddenly, a training camp that was expected to be pretty by-the-book is going to have intense competition.

In other news, Kalana Greene went 13th overall to the New York Liberty.

The media here at Mohegan just jumped off the phone with Kelsey Griffin, roughly 10 minutes after Tina Charles was on a conference call. Danielle McCray is expected to call within the next few minutes as well, likely followed by Hightower.

Sun make another trade with Lynx, acquire Griffin

The moves keep coming for the Sun.

Connecticut has traded its first-round pick next season and the 2011 second-round pick it acquired from Tulsa in Wednesday's trade to Minnesota in exchange for Kelsey Griffin, who the Lynx took with the No. 3 pick less than an hour ago.

Griffin, a First Team All-American, joins a frontcourt that includes Tina Charles, Asjha Jones, Sandrine Gruda, DeMya Walker and Tamika Whitmore. The departure of Chante Black to Tulsa (with Amber Holt) in Wednesday's trade appears to have cleared room for Griffin, though she'll have to battle for playing time from the start.

To recap, the Sun now own three of the top seven picks in this year's draft in Charles, Griffin and Danielle McCray, who will likely miss this entire upcoming season with a torn ACL.

Draft update: Spark take Riley at No. 8

OSU's Andrea Riley was the 8th overall pick, per Los Angeles. I'm taking the new few picks off to tend to some reporting, but check back here in the next 30 minutes or so to see who the Sun take at No. 15.

Draft update: Sun make McCray No. 7

The Sun went long-term with this pick. With the No. 7 pick, Connecticut drafted Kansas' Danielle McCray, who will sit out the next season with a torn ACL. The Sun, however, can afford to wait, especially for a player who was the preseason Big 12 Player of the Year.

McCray, a 5-foot-11 guard/forward, told ESPN she probably can begin basketball activities the second week of August. McCray likely would have been a top-five pick if she was healthy.

The Sun have gone this route before, drafting Erin Phillips in 2003 and Sanrine Gruda in 2007, knowing they wouldn't come from at least another season. They also took Alba Torrens in the third round last year; the 20-year-old Spanish guard probably won't come this year either.

Draft update: Mystics select Monroe

Washington took Florida State's Jacinta Monroe at No. 6. Monroe, a 6-foot-5 forward and All-ACC First Team selection, averaged 13 points per game last year. She's long but lean, but may need to prove she can handle the extra physical play in WNBA.

The Sun are on the clock with the No. 7 pick. There are a lot of guards still on the board, including LSU'a Allison Hightower and OSU's Andea Riley. Of course, UConn's Kalana Greene is also available.

Draft update: Appel off the board

San Antonio made Stanford's Jayne Appel the fifth overall pick. Appel, who has played through several injuries this year, gives San Antonio size and a polished post player. Appel is wearing a boot around on her injured ankle at the draft in Secaucus, N.J., and is likely to miss the next few weeks.

Draft update: Sky take Prince at No. 4

After opting to skip her senior year and play overseas, former Rutgers star Epiphanny Prince has been taken fourth overall by the Chicago Sky, who get another ball-handler and a shooter they need. Prince has played for Botas Spor in Turkey this past winter, averaging 19 points per game.

Prince averaged 19.5 points her junior year at Rutgers.

Draft update: Lynx opt for Griffin

The Lynx chose Nebraska's Kelsey Griffin with the No. 3 selection, taking a 6-foot-2 forward who averaged 20.3 points and 10 rebounds per game.

ESPN analysts are questioning if Griffin fits the Lynx's needs. Some wondered if the Lynx would trade this pick even before they made it, but now that they have a player attached, it may be easier to find a team that likes Griffin, if they do choose to go that way.

Draft update: Lynx take Monica Wright No. 2

No surprise here. The ACC's leading scorer and Player of the Year, Monica Wright is the second pick in today's draft. What Minnesota does next will be interesting. Jayne Appel could go next, but there are questions about the severity of hurt ankle she suffered in Tuesday's championship game. Also, do the Lynx go that anyway with Nicky Anosike and Charde Houston already in the fold, two quicker post players whose styles' differ vastly from Appel's?

It's official: Sun take Charles No. 1 overall

The Connecticut Sun have made it official: They've taken UConn's Tina Charles with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 WNBA Draft.

At the draft in New Jersey, Charles took the stage and smiled for photos holding the Sun's blue jersey.

Now comes the interesting part. Minnesota owns the second and third picks, and don't be surprised if Virginia's Monica Wright is taken with one of those. Will the Lynx also take Jayne Appel? Or will they go another way? How they chose will likely have a trickle-down effect through the first round, including on the Sun at No. 7, where they're likely looking at a guard or versatile small forward.

Just in case you were wondering ...

The Sun obviously have made no secret they're taking Tina Charles with the No. 1 overall pick, and they all but confirmed it at the team's fan fest at Margaritaville in Mohegan Sun.

Greeting season ticket-holders at the door of the restaurant is a life-sized cutout of a smiling Charles palming two WNBA basketballs -- and wearing a Connecticut Sun jersey. It came courtesy of Sun publicist Jen Hildebrand, who took a real photo of Charles and through Photoshop, added the jersey, shorts and basketballs.

The team is also passing out T-shirts that read: 1 + 31 = Sun. (No. 1 as in the pick, No. 31 as in Charles' number.)

The selection becomes official within the half-hour. Stay tuned.

Draft reading

In case you missed it, here is the Bulletin's advance on today's draft, specifically breaking down Wednesday's trade of Amber Holt and Chante Black to the Tulsa Shock for the No. 7 pick in today's draft and the Shock's second-round pick in 2011.

Some Tina and No. 1 notes

Not to jump the gun here, but here are some facts on Tina Charles, the No. 1 pick and WNBA Draft history:

* Only three players in WNBA history have won the NCAA Championship and been selected No. 1 in the WNBA Draft in the same year. Two hail from UConn: Sue Bird (2002), Diana Taurasi (2004) and Candace Parker (2004). Charles will be the fourth.

* Charles would also become the fourth former Final Four Most Outstanding Player to go No. 1, joining Chamique Holdsclaw, Taurasi and Parker.

* Two previous No. 1 picks attended the same high school as Charles, Christ the King: Holdsclaw (1999) and Bird (2002).

Also, of note: The Sun will be holding a press conference with Charles at 2 p.m. Friday in front of the Mohegan Sun Arena box office. The event is open to the public.

The blog is back

After a nearly year-long hiatus, the Norwich Bulletin's Connecticut Sun blog is back up today, just in time for the WNBA Draft.

As most know, the Sun own the No. 1, No. 7, No. 15 and No. 27 picks in today's event (3 p.m., ESPN2 for first round) and outside of some unforseeble catastrophe (i.e. alien invasion), Connecticut will draft UConn senior Tina Charles with the first overall selection.

What the Sun do past that remains to be seen in a draft that Sun coach Mike Thibault said is as "up in the air" as any he can remember in his seven-plus years in the league.

Check back throughout the day for updates on the Sun's picks and where UConn's other draftee, Kalana Greene, ends up.