The Connecticut Sun are contenders. The WNBA basketball team missed out on postseason play from 2013 to 2016, but has since made it to the playoffs in three straight years. After securing early round byes, this time around the Sun are guaranteed a deep playoff run.
There will have been eight off days from the end of the regular season by the time the Sun make it to their first playoff game -- the semifinals against a team yet to be determined.
Head coach Curt Miller is prepping his players for something they haven’t yet experienced – a best-of-five playoff series. That’s because for the past two years, the team was one-and-done in the single elimination rounds.
“Now that we’ve had a couple days to sit back, I think we can feel really proud of ourselves that we checked that next box – that we wanted to take the next step," said Miller this week. "We wanted to get in a series. We talked about it since training camp -- the easiest way to get in the series is to eliminate the one-and-dones and that was by finishing in the top two in the regular season and we did that.”
In Miller’s time as head coach, the team’s only missed the playoffs once – his first year. That was 2016.
That was Jonquel Jones’ rookie year. Since then, Jones is a two-time all-star and she’s led the league in rebounding twice.
“We don’t know who we’re going to play," said Jones. "We don’t want to be too premature and try and do something and then it ends up being somebody else, so right now, we’re just working on the things that we can do to improve ourselves and then, just watching where the chips fall with the games that are going on tonight and then after that.”
In the middle of trying to lead Connecticut to its first WNBA title, Jones is also thinking about her home country of the Bahamas -- and where to put the nearly $42,000 she’s raised for hurricane relief dollars for the hard-hit islands.
She had a visitor at practice this week – her father Preston.
Jones’ family was on the Abaco Islands when the storm hit. Preston Jones spoke briefly about how they rode out Dorian for almost two days. How his Jeep flipped over twice. How he sent his wife and some other family members to hide out in the bathroom while he broke through some windows to get everyone out of the house.
Jones said her sister actually took a video of the whole incident.
“That was the time when I broke down out of all of the videos that I saw because I saw my nieces and nephews in the bathroom [with] water coming through and them having to go through the bathroom of all places and just [Preston] holding the door trying to keep them safe,” Jones said. “Obviously, I was emotional because it was a tough situation -- you never want to see your family in that situation.”
After spending six days on the devastated island, Jones' family was able to catch a plane to Nassau. Then, they flew to Atlanta. Now, they've joined Jonquel in Connecticut.
"Honestly, I’m just happy that they’re here,” Jones said. “A lot of people can’t say that their parents are. A lot of people can’t say that their loved ones are, so I’m blessed.
And soon, Preston Jones will be attending his daughter’s WNBA game for the first time.