How Do the Sun Define Success?


How do you define success?

This is a loaded question and is oftentimes multivalent, particularly in sports. For a team like the Indiana Fever, their six-win improvement (so far) in 2023 may seem trivial. Simultaneously, there’s a tangible excitement that this team is trending in the right direction. But for the defending champion Las Vegas Aces, anything less than another championship feels like a disappointment, right?

The Connecticut Sun have clinched their seventh consecutive playoff berth. And while an impressive feat, the Sun and playing in the playoffs have become almost synonymous with one another.

So how do you define success for the Sun?

A championship.

Since beginning their streak of playoff appearances in 2017, every single team who has had (or shared) the best overall record in the league, won the championship. Everybody except for — you guessed it — the 2021 Sun. Not only did Connecticut not win the championship, but the eventual champion Chicago Sky ended the Sun’s season in the semi-finals.

  • 2022 – Las Vegas Aces | 26-10 (72%) – Championship Win
    • 2022 – Chicago Sky | 26-10 (72%) – Semifinals Loss
  • 2021 – Connecticut Sun | 26-6 (81%) – Semifinals Loss
  • 2020 – Seattle Storm | 18-4 (82%) – Championship Win
    • 2020 – Las Vegas Aces | 18-4 (82%) – Championship Loss
  • 2019 – Washington Mystics | 26-8 (76%) – Championship Win
  • 2018 – Seattle Storm | 26-8 (76%) – Championship Win
  • 2017 – Minnesota Lynx | 27-7 (79%) – Championship Win

In 2022, the Aces popped champagne after defeating the Sun in Game 4 of the WNBA Finals. As the Sun retreated to the locker room, there was a palpable and foreboding sense of change within Mohegan Sun Arena. That offseason saw two starters, Courtney Williams and former MVP Jonquel Jones, leave for the Sky and the New York Liberty, respectively. Additionally, former head coach Curt Miller left for the Los Angeles Sparks.

The definition of success can and does vary from team-to-team and moment-to-moment. In June, former Sixth Player of the Year Brionna Jones was lost for the season with a torn Achilles tendon. In that moment, the Sun’s goal of hoisting a WNBA championship trophy could have shifted – but this team has not wavered.

Head coach, Stephanie White, admitted to some of the team’s shortcomings stating there are “ebbs and flows to a season” and that “the goal is to beat these teams in a series in the playoffs.” White went on to admit “we[‘ve] played teams that are very hard for us to match up against because of our lineup. We almost have to play perfect basketball.” With seven regular season games remaining, there is still time to tinker with and figure out what will work, both offensively and defensively for the Sun.

For the team with the most regular season wins from 2017 through 2022. For the team who has continued to succeed this season through coaching change and injury. For the team who may not be as talented on paper as some others, the Sun are as battle tested as any. Sun veteran DeWanna Bonner added that “if you’re going to lose, let’s see how you respond. When you lose in a series, it’s all about how you respond. This is a good test for us.”

It’s clear that regardless of record, current circumstance, personnel or team health, the Sun’s focus is and remains steadfast – championship.

About Johnell Pannell

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