The Connecticut Solar’s Chemistry Goes Past W.N.B.A. Bonds

The Connecticut Sun’s Chemistry Goes Beyond W.N.B.A. Bonds

They began off 5-0, and even now, at 9-5 getting into Sunday, are higher than 9 of the W.N.B.A.’s dozen groups. The Connecticut Solar are also, considerably unexpectedly, atop the Jap Convention standings. They made it to the league semifinals within the IMG Academy bubble final season, however weren’t projected to be a title-contending group in 2021.

A part of their sudden success might be attributed to chemistry, a few of which has been within the making lengthy earlier than a number of gamers arrived in Connecticut.

“We performed for years collectively,” the rookie ahead Stephanie Jones stated. “Like, me and Kaila Charles, we performed for years, after which me and my sister for a yr, and having the background there, everyone knows the place one another comes from in Maryland.”

Jones is in her first yr within the league after a school profession with Maryland, the place she performed for 4 seasons alongside Charles. Her older sister, Brionna Jones, has been with the Solar for 5 years after taking part in at Maryland with Stephanie for one season and one other with the Suns’ veteran ahead Alyssa Thomas.

Thomas is out this season with an Achilles’ tendon tear, however she is among the most notable Terps within the league when wholesome. Her presence alone on the Suns’ bench has had an impression this yr.

“Having a background with A.T., even simply her being on the sidelines, like she understands the place me and Kaila come from and what we’re doing,” Stephanie Jones stated. “She will get what we went by these 4 years. Her communication with us makes our chemistry nice.”

Jones didn’t discover a roster spot proper out of school and wasn’t within the W.N.B.A. final season. The Solar chosen Charles within the second spherical of the 2020 draft with the No. 23 general choose, and she or he made an impression immediately, averaging 5.4 factors and a pair of.6 rebounds over 17.9 minutes per recreation.

At Maryland, Charles was one among six gamers within the faculty’s historical past to crack the highest 10 in profession factors and rebounds. She began all her video games at Maryland, tying Thomas’s report of beginning 135 video games. Charles hasn’t performed as a lot but this season, with returning gamers and a deeper roster, however Thomas has nonetheless taken discover of her fellow Terps’ growth.

“I haven’t been capable of play together with her but, however watching her develop as a professional, seeing that in Florida, she’s achieved a very good job,” Thomas stated. “She’s having a very good second yr. There’s much more room to develop, however she’ll hold getting higher every yr.”

Whereas Charles was forging a professional profession, Jones was nonetheless seeking to make a roster, spending her 2020 season in Poland. She signed a coaching camp contract with the Solar in March and performed her approach onto the ultimate roster. She has appeared in seven of the Solar’s first 14 video games, averaging 2.3 factors in seven minutes per recreation.

A part of her consolation degree has been taking part in together with her sister.

“It’s one factor taking part in collectively in school, however within the execs, that was all the time a dream,” Brionna Jones stated. “To get to the league after which play with my sister, that’s actually particular. I’m all the time in her ear attempting to assist her alongside, do every little thing I can to make the expertise good for her and ensure she’s catching all of the little nuances I missed out on my rookie season.”

Brionna Jones and Thomas additionally play abroad for a similar group, USK Praha, so their connection has run by a couple of avenues.

“We will’t do away with one another,” Thomas stated. “We love taking part in with one another. We all know one another’s recreation so nicely every night time.”

She added: “I simply love going on the market and taking part in together with her, and even off the court docket, we hang around on a regular basis. We’ve had years attending to know one another.”

Thomas is Maryland’s profession main scorer and rebounder, whose report is unmatched in each the ladies’s and males’s packages.

Her impression on Maryland has nearly actually been one motive Coach Brenda Frese can recruit in addition to she does, and Maryland has been a vacation spot program within the final decade.

Charles and Stephanie Jones felt that impression, too.

“They’re all the time going to push you to be your greatest,” Charles stated. “Like, Coach all the time talked about being comfy being uncomfortable. And that’s one factor that actually units us as much as play on the subsequent degree, as a result of simply to have the ability to develop your recreation, you must not be comfy and nonetheless be capable to achieve success.”

The Solar have been taking part in with out Jonquel Jones, who could possibly be a candidate for the Most Precious Participant Award and has been competing within the FIBA Girls’s EuroBasket 2021 for Bosnia and Herzegovina. She has missed 4 video games however may return quickly.

The Solar’s first recreation with out her and her 21.6 factors per recreation was a loss to Seattle, the primary Solar dwelling lack of the season. Her absence leaves room for one of many younger Terps, like Charles or Stephanie Jones, to step up.

Final season, it was Brionna Jones who took cost with Jonquel Jones out of the lineup after opting out of the 2020 season. Brionna grew to become one of many Solar’s most constant gamers, which has carried over to this season with 13.9 factors, 6.4 rebounds and 1.1 steals per recreation in additional than half-hour per contest thus far.

At this level, the group is used to taking part in with out a few of its greatest expertise. Final season, the Solar discovered methods to nonetheless succeed; Charles was part of that, her rookie yr, and stated she was nonetheless studying.

“This looks like yr two of my rookie yr,” she stated. “All the pieces is form of new nonetheless, taking part in in numerous arenas, including the journey part to go together with the sport, having the followers again within the area additionally makes issues fully completely different than final yr.”

The Solar have already proved they’ll contend when it’s surprising, and maybe the Maryland bond of the Jones sisters, Thomas and Charles helps.

They actually suppose so.

“As a group we like one another a lot, and we get alongside off the court docket, too,” Brionna Jones stated. “So I feel that permits us to have success on the court docket.”

“It’s straightforward for us to speak to one another,” she continued, “to carry one another accountable, and I feel that helped us quite a bit down the stretch final yr. It permits us to achieve success now. When individuals and care about them, you belief them. I feel that makes it simpler to succeed.”

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