Friday, July 20. That was the last time the Connecticut Sun lost a game at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn.
The eight consecutive home wins the Sun have garnered since have not only significantly affected the odds but should get the attention of those looking to hopefully soon legally place wagers on the Sun in The Constitution State.
Consistent Lineup and Performances
What’s most remarkable is that with little exception, the Sun have used essentially the same starting five and three bench players over the 10-month span. Alyssa Thomas, Courtney Williams, Jasmine Thomas and Shekinna Stricklen have started all eight of the games in the current home winning streak.
Layshia Clarendon, Morgan Tuck and Rachel Banham have been among the key reserves consistently during the streak. The one big change in the starting lineup that has happened over the course of the streak has been Jonquel Jones taking the place of Chiney Ogwumike at center.
Jones has started the last three games at that position for the Sun. Ogwumike is now playing with her sister Nneka in Los Angeles so as long as Jones is healthy expect her to continue to fill that position.
Connecticut hasn’t just been consistent in its lineup and rotation, however. It has also been highly dependable in a few facets of the game during the streak.
The first is assist to turnover ratio. Throughout the streak, the worst the Sun have done in that regard was a negative 11 to 14 on Aug. 12 against the Chicago Sky. In the other seven games, the ratio has been at least 2:1 if not greater.
That has the impact of not only allowing Connecticut to maximize possessions by getting its shooters in the best possible position to convert attempts but also limits the chances for opponents to run fast breaks which are predicated on turnovers as well.
Another place where Connecticut has been consistent is on the glass. In every game in the series but the Aug. 19 contest against the Los Angeles Sparks, the Sun have outrebounded their opponents’ entire rosters with just their starting five and bench players who recorded at least 10 minutes in the games.
As could be expected for an eight-game winning streak, offensive efficiency has been a key component. Isolating the analytics to just players who recorded at least 10 minutes on the court during games, their worst field-goal percentage came on Aug. 12 against the Sky, when they went 31-for-75, 41.3 percent.
In half of the games, those Connecticut players have shot at least 50 percent from the field with a highwater mark of 64.2 percent coming on Aug. 5 against the Las Vegas Aces.
Strength on Both Sides of the Ball
Those statistics spin a narrative that the Sun have maximized their offensive possessions and been efficient in converting those possessions into points.
That, in turn, has aided the Connecticut defensive effort. The Sun haven’t been turning over opponents at a higher rate in comparison to the competition, blocking shots at a tremendous rate during the run or posted an extraordinarily higher number of total possessions than their opponents.
The reason Connecticut still has an average margin of victory of 15.5 points and hasn’t allowed an opponent to break the 90-point threshold has more to do with other statistics than those which are traditionally used to measure defensive prowess.
Looking deeper at the rebounding efficiency, limiting opponents’ second chances on offense has been a key. The Sun were second only to the Minnesota Lynx in defensive rebounding percentage in the 2018 season and they held Washington to just 11 offensive rebounds in the 2019 season opener.
The combination of everything is most visible in the offensive and defensive rating measurements. Connecticut was second in the league for the differential between those two at 7.2 in 2018 and the 2019 season opener was a great example of why Connecticut has been so successful.
The Sun recorded 18 assists to nine turnovers, shot over 43 percent from the field and grabbed 29 out of 40 possible defensive rebounds (72.5 percent) in the win over Washington to start the season.
It seems like a simple strategy: put your players in the best position to convert shot attempts with good ball movement and deny your opponents easy scoring chances by controlling the boards.
Executing that strategy consistently is much more difficult. Connecticut has been masterful at doing so during its current eight-game home winning streak and that’s why in games played at home, the Sun are among the safest bets in the league.