Three games in seven days, then a week off for the Sun
Who knows what the Connecticut Sun players and staff sang as they traveled to Chicago, though my best guess would be “On the Road Again.”
The way the early part of Connecticut’s schedule was constructed, the Sun have yet to play more than two consecutive games at home or on the road.
However, as head coach Curt Miller described, the team’s next three games are spaced out just enough that the team can’t return home with games on June 23, 26 and 29.
The team will travel to Chicago, Dallas and Washington before returning to Connecticut on June 30 ahead of hosting the Minnesota Lynx on July 6. While the team had to travel to and practice in Chicago on Saturday, the team will be able to travel and take a day off ahead of their games against the Dallas Wings and the Washington Mystics.
“Each game is a little bit different in preparation,” Miller said. “It’s not an easy stretch. But you know you have to go through this with the WNBA.”
This week off will be the team’s second in three weeks, though it will be a reward for playing four games in nine days.
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According to Jonquel Jones, the team’s approach to the road trip is simple, “[Bringing] the same momentum that we have and just going out there and being road warriors.”
Shekinna Stricklen said, “I think our message is ‘keep being aggressive,’ trying to get our defense communicating and let our defense control the game. I believe our offense will come. So on the road, it’s really about having a good defense and good communication and just staying together.”
The first stop for the red hot Sun (it would be fair to ask who is hotter, the actual sun or this team) who hold the best record in the league (9-1), is Wintrust Arena to take on the Chicago Sky (5-3) who are coming off their first home loss of the season.
The Sky, much like the Sun, can be dangerous on offense because of their variety of scorers, as Chicago has five players averaging at least nine points per game. Using their strong defense to control the game will be key for the Sun.
Connecticut will then travel to Dallas to take on a struggling Wings team and are tied for the second-worst record in the league at 2-6. Dallas lost its first five games, then picked up its first two wins before losing to the Las Vegas Aces Saturday night.
The Wings are struggling to find their identity as ten different players have started a game and no player has started every game, something the Sun who have a core group of starters that have played together for years, should be able to capitalize on.
The last stop will be Washington, where the Sun will battle against a Mystics team they have already beaten twice this season in Uncasville. The Sun will have to watch out for the Mystics offense, one of the only ones in the league that can at times be more dangerous than the Sun’s.
The Mystics lead the league in both points per game and made threes per game. If the Sun do not use the defense that has been able to, for the most part, contain every opponent they have faced so far, the Mystics have the potential to capitalize.
After this difficult stretch, the week off will provide the coaches with an opportunity to reflect on the last few games and the players will be able to rest.
Miller said, “We can reset again. But [look at] in this stretch, who got exploited? What do we need to add? What can we do better? And you just got to get back and clean some things up when you take a few days off.”
Both Stricklen and Jones believe that the week off after a condensed schedule of games provides the players with a little extra motivation.
Stricklen said, “Knowing that once we play the three games, you got another break, so I think there’s something to look forward to.”
When Jones was asked if knowing there’s a week off waiting for you after this sort of road trip makes it any easier Jones said with both enthusiasm and a smile, “Most definitely because you know there’s light at the end of the tunnel.”
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