Connecticut Sun, UConn Women Share Similar Mindsets


While Geno Auriemma has famously led UConn to 11 national championships, the Huskies aren’t Connecticut’s only perennial powerhouse in women’s basketball.

Although yet to win a WNBA title, the Connecticut Sun have been contenders for a ring year in and year out.

In recent years, the journeys of these two teams have exhibited astonishing parallels. To explore this, let’s look back to last season.

April 3rd, 2022

“It is not unfinished business any longer. South Carolina has captured its second national championship”, ESPN‘s Ryan Ruocco exclaimed as the final buzzer went off in Target Center. A defeated UConn team walked off the floor, having lost in the championship game for the first time ever. Up until that night, Auriemma had been 11-0 in the title game.

The loss, however, wouldn’t be the only time fans of Connecticut basketball would experience being runner-up that year.

Just five months later, on September 18th, the Sun lost to the Las Vegas Aces in the WNBA Finals. Coincidentally, the Aces were led by former South Carolina Gamecock, 2022 league MVP A’ja Wilson.

The Injury Bug

The importance of having a great point guard to lead a team cannot be understated. Going into the 2021-2022 season, UConn had reigning National Player of the Year Paige Bueckers returning. The Sun had veteran point guard and WNBA All-Star Jasmine Thomas back at the helm. In eerily similar circumstances, both incurred devastating injuries.

In UConn’s sixth game of the season against Notre Dame, Bueckers went down, suffering a tibial plateau fracture in her left knee. During the Sun’s sixth game — including one preseason game — Thomas was taken to the locker room after tearing the ACL in her right knee. This also occurred against a team from Indiana, the Indiana Fever.

Their absences on the court greatly impacted their respective squads. UConn would go on to lose three of their next seven games. And while the Sun did not have as much a setback in terms of losses, they became a noticeably different team. With Thomas no longer around to facilitate, there was a drop off in the production of 2021 league MVP Jonquel Jones and their half-court offense was not as efficient.

Bueckers eventually returned to the court in late February, fueling the Huskies’ run to the championship game. Thomas remained sidelined.

The Sun had been set back by injury before. League triple-double leader and three-time All-Star Alyssa Thomas missed out on nearly all of the 2021 season after suffering a torn Achilles tendon.


Although the Huskies and the Sun both received favorable seeds in last year’s playoffs, (UConn a two seed in the the NCAA Tournament and the Sun finishing third in the WNBA’s regular season), they were written off by fans and analysts alike. While both were dominant defensive teams, they had trouble scoring from the perimeter at times.

The Sun were favored to beat the Dallas Wings in the quarterfinals of the 2022 playoffs, but many still believed an upset was brewing— especially following Dallas’s game two victory. Similarly, after the Huskies narrowly escaped seventh seeded Central Florida in the second round, many columns predicted an end to their streak of 13-consecutive final fours.

In their semifinal matchups, the two Connecticut squads were favored to fall. Betting lines had the Stanford Cardinal as a -1.5 favorite to beat the Huskies, while the Sun were a +4.5 underdog to lose to the Chicago Sky.

Although a close game, UConn led the Cardinal from start to finish to advance to the National Championship. The Sun won in more thrilling fashion. Chicago led by as many as 11 points in the fourth quarter and were up nine with 3:47 left. Kickstarted by a DeWanna Bonner and-one, the Sun would finish the game out on a 18-0 run to win by nine and advance to the finals.

After making their ways to the championship, both teams were matched up against the overwhelming favorite. Both lost. The Aces, who finished first in the regular season got the better of the Sun in four out of a possible five-game series. The Gamecocks were the number one overall seed in the NCAA tournament and defeated UConn by 15 points.

Looking Ahead

The Huskies current season is nearly at its end and whether or not it will result in a 12th national championship is yet to be determined. They await the Ohio State Buckeyes in the Sweet 16 on Saturday. But if UConn’s 2022-23 season is once again any indication of what’s to come for the Sun, they’re in for a rough ride.

Bueckers has missed out on all of the 2022-23 season due to an ACL tear that occurred back in August. Five-star recruit Ice Brady has also been sidelined her entire freshman year due to a dislocated patella. 2021 number one recruit and sharp-shooter Azzi Fudd missed nearly all of the regular season due to a knee injury. Other players like sophomore Caroline Ducharme have also missed large amounts of time.

On the positive side, they’ve been able to use this adversity to fuel a dominant postseason campaign. They ran through the Big East tournament, winning by an average of 23.3 points over three games. This was aided by the return of Fudd and Ducharme.

The Huskies show no signs of stopping, ousting Vermont by 43 points in the first round of the NCAA tournament and defeating Baylor by 19 points in the second round.

The Sun of course are no strangers to strong postseason campaigns. They’ve made the semifinals in four consecutive seasons, including trips to the WNBA Finals in 2019 and 2022.


It’s rare a transfer player fits into a new system as seamlessly as Lou Lopez Sénéchal has at UConn. The French guard has averaged 15.3 points per game on 47% shooting, including 43.5% from beyond the arc. She’s accompanied by second-year transfer Dorka Juhász who has also had a dominant season. The 6’5″ Hungarian native has averaged a double-double with 14.2 points and ten rebounds per game. 

The Sun will also be looking to incorporate new faces into the lineup. In February they signed two-time All-Star and former Husky, Tiffany Hayes, who is sure to make a great impact. They’ve also signed guards Rebecca Allen and Ty Harris. All three have the ability to score the ball, among other talents, so it’s not unlikely their impact will be as favorable as Lopez Sénéchal and Juhász’s. 

Off-Court Struggles

Both Auriemma and then head coach of the Sun, Curt Miller, suffered devastating losses in the midst of their seasons.

Miller’s mother Bev passed away in August of 2022 and Auriemma’s mother Marsiella died in December.

“I think when you go through something like that, you kind of talk yourself into thinking you’re quite prepared… You think you can handle whatever’s coming next. But it’s like the delayed effect that happens” said Auriemma in an interview with Just Women’s Sports. The hall of fame coach missed four games through December and January.

Breaking Through

A championship is due in the state of Connecticut.

The Huskies have not won a title since 2016, when they were led by three-time National Player of the Year, Breanna Stewart.

For most Power 6 teams, seven years between championships is a reasonable amount of time. For a UConn program that has won 11 titles and practically established its own dynasty in the sport, winning four-consecutive championships from 2013 to 2016, it seems an eternity.

While South Carolina is favored to repeat, the Huskies are looking about as good as they have all season. If UConn is unable to get business done this year it’s likely they will be the favorite to win next season. Paige Bueckers will be back in the lineup and they have a strong incoming freshman class.

As for the Sun, with both a new head coach and general manager taking lead of the franchise, it’s unclear just how competitive they will be. But with an elite veteran-led frontcourt returning, you can’t count Connecticut out.

Perhaps these front-office changes are exactly what the Sun need to break through and win that elusive WNBA title.

About Ethan Arcata

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