Surging Connecticut Sun move to top of AP power poll
NEW YORK (AP) — Connecticut’s balanced attack on offense this season is causing problems for opponents and the Sun have rolled to the best record in the league.
On a given night, any of coach Curt Miller’s players can lead the team on offense. The coach says the team doesn’t have an alpha dog, but the “pack” philosophy as Miller calls is working.
The Sun are 7-1 and sit atop The Associated Press power poll for the first time.
“I think the (balanced offense) is a whole mentality that we’ve talked about, a ‘we have to win as a pack mentality,’” Miller said. “We don’t really have an alpha dog that a few teams have in the league, but we feel we’re very deep and we have a balance and depth within our roster. We have equal shot distribution and balanced scoring throughout our team.”
Another reason for the Sun’s success is they are having fun on and off the court. Most of the players live in an apartment complex together.
“It’s sort of like college where we are always hanging out,” guard Rachel Banham said. “We go out to dinner together or hang out together.”
Connecticut has a difficult schedule the rest of the month with only two more home games before July.
“This is a very big stretch for us,” Miller said. “We will have a lot of home games down the stretch.”
POWER POLL: A look at this week’s WNBA poll:
1. Connecticut (7-1): Shekinna Stricklen took her demotion from the starting lineup well, hitting a game-winning shot to beat New York and spurring the team to a victory over Minnesota.
2. Los Angeles (5-2): The Sparks welcomed top pick Maria Vadeeva to the team this week. The Russian star will see her first game action soon.
3. Phoenix (7-3): The Mercury are riding a five-game winning streak thanks to Brittney Griner and Diana Taurasi.
4. Seattle (6-3): Followed up an impressive blowout victory in Los Angeles with a hiccup at home against a hot Atlanta Dream team.
5. Atlanta (5-3): Moving up in the poll after three straight wins, including two on the road.
6. Washington (5-4): The Mystics had a relatively quiet week to get healthy and ready for a pivotal game in Connecticut on Wednesday..
7. Dallas (4-3): The Wings got a huge effort from Skylar Diggins to win their lone game of the week.
8. Minnesota (3-6): The Lynx are struggling to get consistent production off the bench this year with this loss of Renee Montgomery and Natasha Howard to free agency.
9. New York (3-4): Got a much-needed win over Indiana. The Liberty have lost their four games by a combined 16 points.
10. Chicago (3-5): The Sky got Allie Quigley back, but still are missing Stefanie Dolson due to injury. They hope to have her back soon.
11. Las Vegas (1-7): The Aces have back-to-back road games in Indiana and New York which doesn’t bode well for trying to get victories.
12. Indiana (0-8): The Fever have their best shot at that first victory of the season when they host Las Vegas on Tuesday.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK:
Brittney Griner helped the Phoenix Mercury to a 3-0 week averaging 23 points, 9.7 rebounds and four blocks. Other players receiving votes this week were Tiffany Hayes and Diana Taurasi.
Shekinna Stricklen completed the first four-point play to end a game in WNBA history last Thursday to beat the New York Liberty. Stricklen says it was the first time in her career she had hit a game-winning shot.
LORD STANLEY VISITS:
The Washington Mystics had a surprise visitor this week when the Stanley Cup dropped back practice . The Washington Capitals won the cup for the first time this year. The Mystics played in front of a huge rowdy crowd against the Lynx last week in an afternoon game before the arena was opened up for a Stanley Cup Finals viewing party.
GAME OF THE WEEK
Mystics at Sun, Wednesday. The Sun will try and keep their sizzling start going against Elena Delle Donne and the Mystics.
Follow Doug on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/dougfeinberg
To find the poll online: https://collegebasketball.ap.org/ap-wnba-power-poll-week-5-0