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Connecticut Sun’s chemistry goes beyond the WNBA bond

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They started 5-0 and are still 9-5 on Sunday, better than 9 of the 12 WNBA teams. Connecticut Sun is also, somewhat surprisingly, at the top of the Eastern Conference standings. They made it to the league semi-finals in the IMG Academy bubble last season, but weren’t expected to be a title-fighting team in 2021.

Some of their sudden success could be due to chemistry, some of which were made long before several players arrived in Connecticut.

“We played together for years,” said rookie forward Stephanie Jones. “Like me and Kayla Charles, we played for years, then me and my sister played for a year. We all have a background there, so we’re all in Maryland. I know where I came from. “

Jones has been in the league for the first year after graduating from college in Maryland and has played with Charles for four seasons. Her sister Brionna Jones spent five years with Sun after playing with Stephanie in Maryland for a season with Sands veteran forward Alyssa Thomas.

Thomas has been competing for a rupture of the Achilles tendon this season, but is one of the league’s most famous terps when he is healthy. Her presence on the Sands bench alone had an impact this year.

“With an AT background and she’s on the sidelines, she seems to understand where I and Kayla are coming from and what we’re doing,” says Stephanie Jones. I did. “She understands what we have experienced in the last four years. Her communication with us makes our chemistry wonderful.”

Jones couldn’t find a place on the roster shortly after leaving college and wasn’t at the WNBA last season. Sun picked Charles in the 23rd overall pick in the second round of the 2020 draft, and she made an immediate impact, averaging 5.4 points and 2.6 rebounds in 17.9 minutes per game.

In Maryland, Charles was one of six players in school history, beating the top ten in career points and rebounds. She started all the games in Maryland, setting a record for Thomas to start 135 games. Charles hasn’t played much this season and has a deeper roster with repeaters, but Thomas is still looking at the growth of her fellow Terp.

“I couldn’t play with her yet, but I saw her grow up professionally and she did a good job in Florida,” said Thomas. “She has a good second year. There is still plenty of room for growth, but she gets better every year.”

While Charles was building his professional career, Jones still wanted to make a roster and spent the 2020 season in Poland. She signed a training camp contract with Sun in March and appeared on the final roster. She played in seven of Sun’s first 14 games, averaging 2.3 points per game in seven minutes.

Part of her level of comfort is playing with her sister.

“It’s one of the things we play together in college, but in the pros it’s always been a dream,” said Briona Jones. “It’s really special to play with my sister after joining the league. I’m always trying to help her in her ears. I’ll do everything I can to have a good experience for her. Make sure she catches all the little nuances she missed in the rookie season. “

Briona Jones and Thomas are also playing abroad on the same team, USK Praha, so their connections have gone through several paths.

“We can’t get rid of each other,” said Thomas. “We love playing with each other. We know each other’s games very well every night.”

She added: “I love going out and playing with her. I always hang out outside the court. It took us years to get to know each other.”

Thomas is Maryland’s career-leading scorer and rebound, whose record is unmatched in both women’s and men’s programs.

Her influence on Maryland is one of the reasons Brenda Frese can be hired like her, and Maryland has been a destination program for the past decade.

Charles and Stephanie Jones also felt the impact.

“They always push you to be your best,” Charles said. “Similarly, coaches have always said they are comfortable with being uncomfortable, and that’s one of the things we’re really ready to play at the next level, because the game. You need to be successful, even if you’re not comfortable, just to be able to develop. “

Sun has the potential to be a candidate for the Best Player Award and is playing without John Kell Jones in the FIBA ​​Women’s EuroBasket 2021 in Bosnia and Herzegovina. She missed four games but may be back soon.

Her first match without her and her 21.6 points per match were a defeat to Seattle and the first Sun home defeat of the season. Her absence leaves room for one of the younger terps like Charles and Stephanie Jones to step up.

After opting out of the 2020 season last season, Brionna Jones was in charge of Jonquel Jones from the lineup. Briona has become one of Sun’s most consistent players and has been carried over this season with 13.9 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.1 steals, with more than 30 minutes per game so far.

At this point, the group is accustomed to playing without some of its best talent. Last season, the sun still found a way to succeed. Charles was part of it, the year of her newcomer, and said she was still learning.

“It feels like the second year of my rookie year,” she said. “Everything is still new, playing in different arenas, adding travel components to match the game, and bringing fans back to the arena, which is completely different from last year.”

The Sun has already proved that they can fight when it’s unexpected, and perhaps the Bonds of Jones sisters Thomas and Charles Maryland are helping.

They certainly think so.

“As a team, we love each other and we get along well from the court,” said Briona Jones. “So I think it allows us to succeed in court.”

“It’s easy to talk to each other,” she continued. “We were able to be accountable to each other. I think it contributed significantly to our growth last year. It enables us to succeed now. You know people , When you care about them, you trust them. I think it will be easier for you to succeed. “

Connecticut Sun’s chemistry goes beyond the WNBA bond

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