It has been a tough last few years for the Connecticut Sun franchise.
When the team decided to part ways with long-time head coach Mike Thibault, it ended an era of success on many levels, except for the biggest achievement, a WNBA title.
To get to the next level the management thought former Seattle Storm coach Anne Donovan was the answer, but that did not work out well at all, as players disappointed in Thibault’s departure or not satisfied with Donovan’s approach either left or underperformed.
Enter Curt Miller, a long-time and very successful college coach, one-year WNBA assistant coach, who was hired to be the head coach on December 17, 2015. Miller had his own visions for the team, and they were much different than that of Donovan.
Gone from the 2015 roster are Chelsea Gray, Kayla Pedersen, Elizabeth Williams, Jennifer Lacy, and after a July trade, Kelsey Bone.
In their place are rookies Morgan Tuck, Rachel Banham, Jonquel Jones, and Courtney Williams, and free agent Aneika Henry-Morello.
The team started slowly, dropping seven of their first eight as the rookie coach and young team adjusted to each other and tried to learn new systems. At the end of June, the Sun had a 3-13 record, and rumblings about whether Miller was in over his head started.
Suddenly, things began to click. The addition of Williams brought athleticism off the bench, and the dispatching of Bone opened up the middle for Chiney Ogwumike to operate and increased the minutes for both Ogwumike and Jones. They went 5-3 in July, and have been 3-2 since the Olympic break, including a 2-1 record versus first place Minnesota.
With success there is reward. Miller is no longer rumored to be on the hot seat; he is now also the General Manager of the team, replacing the retiring Chris Sienko.
It is a tough battle to reach the playoffs still, but the Sun has clearly turned a corner and has a bright future ahead of them.
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