Sorry for the corny headline but the question remains, are the Connecticut Sun on the rise after their win today against the previously undefeated Minnesota Lynx.
The youth movement in Connecticut appears to be paying off. In the previous game with the Minnesota Lynx, the Sun pushed them further than any other team this season. However, what is going to sound warning bells around the WNBA is that the Sun beat the Lynx in Minnesota. Yes, you read that right, Minnesota lost on their home floor.
You know what this means, Rebecca Lobo is probably right, the Connecticut Sun are probably going to be a Playoff team this year. If they are, I do not believe they will win it all, but Minnesota will be very wary if they play each other in a knockout game or series.
Picking apart how the Sun beat the Lynx is actually quite enlightening. The Minnesota Lynx play quality basketball, they beat teams by having multiple weapons who can all fire simultaneously. Maya Moore is one of the greatest to play in the WNBA, her shooting, her competitive edge and superior basketball intelligence are a rare combination.
Sylvia Fowles is a ten year veteran who is having her best year and at 6-foot-6 is hard to stop. Rebekkah Brunson is the best offensive rebounding player in the history of the WNBA and is fourth for total rebounds. The guards, Seimone Augustus and Lindsay Whalen are two of the most talented players to have ever played in the league.
Their bench is experienced and plays hard, so the question is, how did the Sun win? The answer is simple, take the strengths of the team away. Yes, if it was that simple all teams would do it, but lets have a look at how the Sun did it.
For me, it starts in the middle with Jonquel Jones. Jones is also 6-foot-6 and just happens to be almost ten years younger than Fowles. By stopping Fowles, the Lynx had to change their game and Jones held Fowles ten points below her season average of 22 points per game.
Add to this the starting front court of the Sun had 13 assists between them, the Lynx defense never really had a chance to get set. Continuing the trend, the starting back court had ten assists between them and a picture may be starting to form in your mind. Ball movement, with a run and gun style offense is pretty much the Achilles heel of the Lynx team. Yes, they do have one.
However, it was the rim protection provided by Jones which was the deciding factor for me. Yes, the Lynx are trying to be more of a three point shooting team. However, if you take away easy buckets near the rim, shooting the three has a whole lot more pressure attached to it. This is especially the case if the perimeter defenders know Jones is behind them. She had four blocked shots and altered countless others. She also kept the Lynx off the offensive glass, keeping them to just three offensive boards on the night.
Normally the Minnesota bench is also able to come on and keep the pressure going. Veterans like Plenette Pierson, Jia Perkins and Renee Montgomery are smart, tough and very good basketball players. These three combined for 17 points tonight, I say combined, what I really mean was Montgomery scored all of them. Natasha Howard was the only other bench player to score and she only had three points.
The Connecticut bench had 17 points, thanks to 11 from Rachel Banham who has hopefully recovered from injury. If she has, her scoring will change the way teams play the Sun.
So how do you beat the Lynx? Have a young, quick team who all contribute and move the ball well on offense. Defend the perimeter closely and have a solid interior defender who can block shots, keep Fowles in check and keep the Lynx off the offensive glass. See it is not that hard …….. really.