Scott Gray Sports Commentary, Monday, August 18th, 2014
FROM THE RANKS OF THE DISAPPOINTED
Count me among the disappointed. I was one of the many who came out of the WNBA draft last April at the Mohegan Sun Arena believing the Connecticut Sun would be looking ahead on this day.
The Sun are looking ahead, after capping the regular season with their largest margin of victory, an 84-55 win over the Atlanta Dream in Montville, but not, as expected, to the playoffs. The Sun are looking ahead to next year, absent from the post season for the second straight year.
This was a year of high hopes for Anne Donovan, entering the final season of a two year coaching deal with the Sun. Those high hopes were on display three weeks before the WNBA draft lottery, in which the Sun had a shot at the number one pick. Donovan made no secret of her plans for that pick, if it came through, and in April she was true to her word, selecting Stanford star forward Chiney Oguamike. When draft night trades brought Kelsey Bone to Connecticut from the Liberty and Alex bentley from Atlanta, while guard Katie Douglas returned as a free agent to bring the Sun some veteran stability, the pressure was on Donovan to deliver.
Count me among the disappointed when the Sun struggled through an early season five game losing streak that included two abyssmal efforts against an injury riddled Chicago Sky. At times, out of that streak, the Sun looked like a determined team that was finding the proper blend of young talent melding into a cohesive unit with veteran leadership. Too frequently, however, they looked like a team that was still a stride behind the rest of the league, turning in some impressive efforts in a late season road trip to no avail.
The looks on the faces of Mohegan Sun entertainment chief Mitch Etess and Sun general manager Chris Sienko late in the campaign were demonstration enough that I wasn’t alone among the disappointed. The season that should have been, based on the draft night that was, materialized only moment by moment. An impressive late season win with Oquamike, the likely WNBA Rookie of the Year, sidelined offered a glimpse of what may yet be, but the speculation about Donovan’s future had begun at mid season, some inside the team family making unfavorable comparisons to her predecessor, Mike Thibault.
Last season Anne Donovan never got the chance to coach the team she thought she inherited. This year she had her team and you can count me among those disappointed by the results. But don’t count me among the detractors. I’m one who saw enough response from the players to the coach to see reason for giving Donovan a chance to see it through with her players, and I don’t think I’m in the minority.
With a comment from the sports world, I’m Scott Gray.