Friday, October 8, 2021
By RENALDO DORSETT
Tribune Sports Reporter
JONQUEL Jones echoed the sentiments of her Connecticut Sun head coach Curt Miller when assessing their WNBA Semifinals loss to the Chicago Sky - they fell behind early, often and were unable to catch up.
The league MVP said her team’s slow start in Wednesday night’s game four loss was indicative of what has occurred all series.
“We’re a team that thrives off of good starts, and they [Chicago] thrive off of good starts so we can’t say exactly why we didn’t come out with that enthusiasm and the energy that we needed but, not having that I think it definitely was a big factor,” Jones said.
“Shots weren’t falling. We weren’t getting stops and it was unfortunate.”
She credited the Sky’s defensive scheme behind coach James Wade along with the play of a roster led by Courtney Vandersloot and Candace Parker.
“They’re great players, they stepped up in the moment, that’s what playoff basketball is about. They stepped up and made big plays,” Jones said.
For the series, Jones produced three double doubles and averaged 16.3 points, 9.8 rebounds and 2.3 blocked shots per game.
Behind Jones, the Sun posted the highest winning percentage in franchise history (.813) and finished the regular season with 14 consecutive victories for the fourth-longest winning streak in WNBA history.
Connecticut also earned the league’s best record (26-6) and the No. 1 seed in the WNBA Playoffs 2021.
With the upset at the hands of the Sky, they were the first No.1 seed to not advance to the WNBA finals since 2016.
“When you’re around a special group nothing ever stands out,” Sun head coach Curt Miller said when asked to identify the most memorable point of the season.
“It’s your interaction with them daily, caring for each other…That unselfish locker room was so genuinely happy for each others’ success this year.”
Led by Jones winning the league’s MVP, the Sun’s Brionna Jones also claimed the Most Improved Player award and Curt Miller was named Coach of the Year.
Jones received 48 of 49 first-place votes and 487 total points from a national panel of sportswriters and broadcasters to win the league’s MVP.
In her fifth WNBA season, she averaged 19.4 points, 11.2 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.26 blocked shots, and 1.26 steals in 31.7 minutes in 27 games.
The 6’ 6” forward led the WNBA in rebounding and defensive rebounding (8.7 per game) and ranked fourth in scoring and 10th in blocks. Her efficiency rating of 25.4 was second only to Brittney Griner of the Phoenix Mercury (26.0).
Jones, 27, won the WNBA Peak Performer Award as the league’s top rebounder for the third time in five seasons. She also led the WNBA in rebounding in 2017 and 2019. Jones scored at least 20 points in 12 of 27 games, including a career-high 31 points vs. the New York Liberty on June 5 and again at Washington on August 31. She also grabbed a career-best 17 rebounds at New York on July 11. Jones finished the season with 18 double-doubles (points-rebounds).
Jones was named the WNBA Eastern Conference Player of the Month for May, August, and September. She was also named to the WNBA All-Defensive First Team, the Associated Press Player of the Year and AP First-Team Honours.