Michael Barrett Staff writer
Fans of women’s basketball in Connecticut have been spoiled for a long time. The UConn Women’s team has been dominant under Head Coach Geno Auriemma for decades, winning eleven national titles since 1995.
However, this past week revealed a chink in the Huskies’ armor as they fell to a lowly 6th in the AP Poll. This was their first time outside of the top 5 since February 5, 2007.
Overall, this is no reason to fret for Huskies fans. They are still a force to be reckoned with this season, losing only three games, with all of them coming against teams in the top 3 of the AP Poll. Furthermore, the future looks bright thanks to the commitment of high school sensation Paige Bueckers, the top recruit in the country. But like I said, Connecticut fans are accustomed to championship basketball, and we’re not used to waiting for it.
Luckily, we won’t have to. The Connecticut Sun surprised a lot of people by making the WNBA Finals last season but this year it’s championship or bust from the start. After falling short to the Washington Mystics in the final game of a 5-game series, the Sun have gone all in, trading three first round picks for three-time All-Star Forward and two-time WNBA Champion DeWanna Bonner.
The 32-year old Bonner has spent her entire career up to this point with the Phoenix Mercury alongside UConn legend and future Hall of Famer Diana Taurasi. Her wiry 6’4 frame and her tenacious play allows her to hassle opponents on the glass and in the paint on both ends of the floor. On top of that, she’s a threat from 3-point range, and has guard-like skills with the ability to put the ball on the floor, and make plays for her teammates. In short, she’s a matchup nightmare for opponents as she’s either taller or quicker than most forwards in the league.
Fans of the Sun are surely aware of this if they watched the second-round playoff matchup against Phoenix in 2018. DeWanna played a big part in knocking the Sun out of the playoffs, grabbing a ridiculous 18 rebounds and scoring 23 points, including a turnaround jumper to put the Mercury up 88-86 with two minutes left. They would go on to win 96-86.
Bonner’s experience and talent will be a huge help to the young and rising Sun squad. She’ll fit perfectly alongside fellow 2019 All-Stars Jonquel “The Bahamian Beast” Jones and Alyssa Thomas. In an interview on the Sun website DeWanna said that she’s “excited to play with this talented group and whatever I can to help this organization hang its first banner.”
However, adding Bonner, definitely came with a price for the Sun. She was traded for, despite being a free agent, in order to make her eligible to sign a max contract of $215,000. Her large price tag forced the Sun to trade starting guard Courtney Williams on Wednesday.
For WNBA fans, this can be looked at as good news, as the players were able to collectively bargain for their highest pay ever this offseason, bringing the league average salary over six figures for the first time. No matter how the deal came to be though, Connecticut women’s basketball fans are the winners once again and will be treated to watching a championship-level team once the Sun open their season at Mohegan on May 16.