It was a pretty uneventful day at Mohegan Sun Arena.
Oh, other than the fact that Stefanie Dolson and Bria Hartley will remain teammates at the pro level and Tina Charles' run with the Connecticut Sun ended after four seasons.
Dolson's day was probably the only one that was anything close to normal. She was picked by Washington with the sixth overall pick and then Hartley went a few minutes later to Seattle with the seventh pick. However, Hartley wasn't staying with the guard-heavy Storm for very long and she was shipped along with Tianna Hawkins to Washington for perennial All-Star forward Crystal Langhorne.
“I think we are really excited to be able to go through this process with her and now we are going to go in and be rookies together,” Hartley said shortly after finding out she was part of a trade that send All-Star forward Crystal Langhorne to Seattle. “It is a dream come true moment.”
Dolson wasn't in the room when Hartley was drafted but the crowd's reaction made it obvious who went with the seventh pick.
“I was in the hallway and I heard the uproar and I said 'it had to be Bria.'” Dolson said.
UConn coach Geno Auriemma believes Dolson will be a good fit with Washington.“They certainly have had their experiences of working with post players,” Auriemma said. “Mike did a great job with Tina and I think Stefanie brings a lot to any organization. He has a certainly style of play that I think taps into Stefanie’s skills and she is going to be phenomenal pro.”
There were rumblings of some transactions taking place on draft day. With all due respect to Langhorne, word of the block buster came before the first pick was announced with Charles being shipped to New York in exchange for the fourth overall pick, used to select Maryland's Alyssa Thomas, a No. 1 pick in the 2015 draft and Kelsey Bone, taken in the first round in 2013 by New York.
The Sun hierarchy did not hold back in making it clear that this trade was Charles' doing.
“It is so disappointing but we have to move on as an organization,” Connecticut Sun general manager Chris Sienko.
“Two weeks ago was when we heard that she was not going to play. She said through her agent, if (she was) not traded she would sit out. We were expecting her to be here, she knew we were selecting Chiney and they would be a lethal duo but we moved on, that is our job as an organization. We are not going to be held hostage by anyone or anybody and we are going to do what is best for our organization. New York stepped up to be able to get her.”
Then there is this from Sun head coach Anne Donovan.
“We had hoped Tina would want to be a part of our future with KT (Katie Douglas) and we were so looking forward hoping that Tina would be a part of that,” Connecticut Sun coach Anne Donovan said. “As time went on, we had no indication until late March that this was going to go down and Tina would not play here. As it stands I think we got really good value out of the trade. We were not the driver of that trade. Tina and New York were the ones who were in the drivers’ seat for that trade.
“I am disappointed but truthfully you just have to have people who are committed to winning and want to be here. Tina did not want to be in Connecticut, she made it clear so moving forward we will have played here who want to be here, will put it out on the line night in and night out. I think all of that is going to translate into a really good team.”
Chiney Ogwumike, taken by the Sun with the No. 1 overall pick, couldn't contain her excitement at being part of the new-look Connecticut Sun.
“I am excited to come in play hard and play,” Ogwumike said. “I just want to play, that is one thing that losing in the Final Four has made me realize I want to get back out there as fast as possible, redemption I guess you can say. I lost to Connecticut and I am going to be in Connecticut.”
When the Sun began the 2013 season, they were coming off a trip to the playoffs with the team built around the all-star duo of Charles and Kara Lawson. Lawson was part of a three-team trade with her landing in Washington and former first-round pick Alex Bentley coming to the Sun. Asjha Jones will miss the season with a torn Achilles which led to the drafting of Ogwumike to play that position. The Sun also signed perennial All-Star wing Katie Douglas, a star on some of the Sun’s great teams, away from Indiana. The Sun also engineered a trade with Los Angeles to get the 11th overall pick for Sandrine Gruda, another player with little desire to play in Connecticut. With that pick the Sun took Duke’s Chelsea Gray, who is expected to miss the upcoming season due to a knee injury she suffered as a senior.
Sienko said that Spanish star Alba Torrens, whose rights are owned by the Sun, is focused on the FIBA World Championships but he is hopeful that she will come over to the WNBA in 2015.
Obviously the games against New York and Washington at Mohegan Sun could have a little extra juice to them this year. Connecticut hosts the Liberty in the preseason and regular-season openers on May 4 and 16 while the first Connecticut/Washington game is June 5 at Mohegan Sun Arena.
Labels: Bria Hartley, Chiney Ogwumike, Stefanie Dolson