While the preseason picks to win the WNBA have sputtered, the Connecticut Sun have gotten off to a fast start. Because of the team’s 8-1 record, they have joined the Las Vegas Aces as the favorite to win the title.
The Sun began the season as a 7/1 pick to win, but having only one loss through nine games has vaulted them to 5/2, the same odds as the Aces. Connecticut plays the Atlanta Dream on Friday and are 12.5-point favorites.
The starting five are in the fourth season playing together, and that cohesiveness has turned into a major advantage. Coach and general manager Curt Miller told the Norwich Bulletin that the team’s slogan is “good to great.”
“Giving up the good shot to get the great shot,” Miller said. “The whole mentality of this team, in everything we do, is taking it from good to great. That’s what we talk about with the extra passing. At times, sacrifice a good shot to get to a great shot. They’re willing to share the ball and when you make the shot after the extra pass it looks really pretty.”
Unlike Las Vegas, which was expected to be good from the beginning of the season, the Sun was projected to be chasing the Washington Mystics in the five-team Eastern Conference. The Mystics had odds of 3/1 to win the title.
Opening night changed that. The Sun hosted Washington, and soundly defeated them, 84-69. Two weeks later they hosted them again, winning, 83-75.
Winning is always enjoyable, but Sun guard Rachel Banham said the team is coming together.
“I think we’re just having a lot of fun together,” Sun guard Rachel Banham said. “For a lot of us, it’s our fourth season together. We know each other, know how to play together. We’re having fun with it and getting it done. I think we have really got better in some areas in the past that have hurt us, now we’re able to fix those mistakes and it is showing. That’s why we’re winning, that’s why we’re 7-1.”
It has been equally as pleasurable for bettors. In the team’s nine games, they are 6-3 against the spread, and have hit the six times.
Despite the strong start, the Sun have to still worry about teams such as the Aces, Mystics, and the Los Angeles Sparks. Injuries are the reason the Mystics have been struggling. They have had four players suffer maladies, the most serious being rookie guard Kiara Leslie. She injured her knee and had surgery that could possibly take her out of action the rest of the season.
The Aces have put a lot of new faces together, and predictably it has taken a while for them to play as a team. Guards Kelsey Plum, Jackie Young, and Kayla McBride have struggled, and were exploited against the Mystics on Thursday, much to the disappointment of coach Bill Laimbeer.
“An experienced basketball team kicked the crap out of an inexperienced basketball team,” he said. “They played very well, and we didn’t.”
The Sparks were beaten by the same Mystics team two days earlier. It was the season debut for Los Angeles star Candace Parker. She had been sidelined with a hamstring injury. The team is 4-3.