Blogs > Elm City to Eagleville

A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

WNBA draft: A look back

Give the Connecticut Sun hierarchy credit for making the WNBA draft interesting.

The three trades Connecticut made landed the Sun the No. 1, 3 and 7 picks. It essentially cost them Lindsay Whalen, Amber Holt, Chante Black and next year's No. 1 pick.

The result is that Kelsey Griffin and Danielle McCray hold head coach and player personnel director Mike Thibault's future in their hands. If they have the impact that Thibault thinks they will, the moves will be lauded. If they have the impact of former Connecticut first round picks Holt, Black and Ketia Swanier, it's likely that Thibault's run with the Sun could be over.

Personally, I think it was an incredible day for the Sun especially when you add in second-round pick Allison Hightower who I couldn't believe slipped out of the first round.

There will be some growing pains but I think the additions of No. 1 overall pick Tina Charles, Griffin and Hightower (McCray is still recovering from a torn ACL and won't play this season) to new additions Renee Montgomery, Kara Lawson and DeMya Walker change the Sun for the better. However, if the Sun miss the playoffs and the pick ends up turning into the No. 1 overall pick, Griffin will always be known as the player traded for the rights to Maya Moore.

I don't think that is going to happen. I expect Sandrine Gruda and Anete Jekabsone-Zogota to raise the level of their games as the two European stars continue to get more comfortable to the WNBA game. Asjha Jones is simply one of the best players in the league and should have more help in the frontcourt than she did last season.

The moves should make for an interesting training camp. Assuming Jones, Gruda, Jekabsone-Zogota, Lawson, Montgomery, Walker, Charles and Griffin make the team that leaves three spots for Hightower, Tamika Whitmore, Kerri Gardin and Tan White to fight over. If Hightower is as good as I think she is, I think that the final spot may come down to Whitmore and White. Connecticut Sun coach Mike Thibault said guard Erin Phillips will not be back with the Sun this season so she won't figure into the fight for the 11 roster spots.

On a side note, New York Liberty second-round pick Kalana Greene had some fun with Hartford Courant UConn/Sun beatwriter John Altavilla during her conference call with the Connecticut media today. John has periodically asked Charles and Greene about their thoughts on the upcoming WNBA draft and neither player would answer other than saying that they are focused on leading UConn to a national title. So when Kalana took a question from John today, her response of "now I can finally answer some WNBA questions" brought the house down.

Three-time defending champion Spartak Moscow Region, led by ex-UConn stars Diana Taurasi and Sue Bird, face the Gruda-led UMMC Ekaterinburg in the first EuroLeague semifinal on Friday while Ros Casares plays Wisla Can-Pack in the other semifinal in Valencia, Spain. The winners play in the championship game on April 11.

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