June 3, 2020
How the 2020 Connecticut Sun roster came together
Curt Miller discusses the Connecticut Sun’s initial 11-player roster
Welcome to The Next: A basketball newsroom brought to you by The IX. 24/7/365 women’s basketball coverage, written, edited and photographed by our young, diverse staff, dedicated to breaking news, analysis, historical deep dives and projections about the game we love.
Subscribe to make sure this vital work, creating a pipeline of young, diverse media professionals to write, edit and photograph the great game, continues and grows. Subscriptions include some exclusive content, but the reason for subscriptions is a simple one: making sure our writers and editors creating 24/7/365 women’s basketball coverage get paid to do it.
Brionna Jones, Alyssa Thomas, Jasmine Thomas, Shekinna Stricklen, Courtney Williams. Domenic Allegra photo.
After an active free agency and aggressive training camp signings, Connecticut Sun general manager and head coach Curt Miller was looking forward to a competitive training camp.
However, due to COVID-19 Miller and his coaching staff were forced to set a roster by May 26, without seeing the players they drafted or signed to a training camp contract in a Sun uniform.
“We put together, in our minds, a really competitive training camp that was setting up a lot of great competition to round out the end of our roster and the final few spots on our roster,” Miller told The Next in a phone interview. “We intentionally had great versatility and a variety of skill sets strength by players either drafted or signed to training camp contracts.”
On May 25, the team released the following 11-player roster for the 2020 season:
Miller believes that of the toughest parts of the job as a GM and coaching staff is the roster cuts every year and despite it sometimes being harder to make the cuts due to the personal relationships built, it is even harder without a training camp.
“The only way that I believe you can do it as a general manager is with compassion and empathy and understand it’s not fair for them,” Miller said. “And express that to them and this shouldn’t define them. And they are all talented enough to be in this league and will get another shot at proving that to coaches and GMs around the league.”
The team waived Megan Huff, Jacki Gemelos, Jazmon Gwathmey and Juicy Landrum, while keeping Kaila Charles, the team’s 2020 second-round draft pick.
“My phone call with Kaila Charles was an uplifting phone call, her gratitude, her excitement of realizing that I was calling her to let her know that she would be part of our initial 11 player roster,” Miller said. “The gratitude, the excitement was so genuine And you could feel her excitement and appreciation that we are taking a chance on her without working with her on the court yet.”
Miller and his coaching staff chose to keep Charles due to her athleticism and her versatility.
“We believe that she has a chance to impact us at the defensive end and certainly in our transition game but you know, the versatility with a roster that’s starting with 11 ultimately, is something that resonated with us,” Miller said.
He believes that the theme of this team is versatility, something he said is important when you only have 11 players.
“They all will be counted upon and I think all have a chance to really contribute to us,” he said.
Though the start of the season remains unknown, Miller has already gamed out the roles for everyone on his roster.
“Natisha Hiedeman has the ability to be the backup point guard, but she shoots the ball well enough to play alongside other point guards like Jasmine Thomas and… Briann January,” Miller said. “[Kaleena] Mosqueda-Lewis brings us great shooting, she’s big enough to play three if we wanted to play a little smaller you know we could go really big and play her at the two.”
Miller also noted the versatility of Charles, Plaisance and Holmes.
Miller believes the Sun are in a good position to be able to add a 12th player during the season.
“By then we’ll be able to analyze the health of our roster, how it is coming together. We’ll be able to evaluate what position or what skillset strength could impact us, you know, in a modified season, so we certainly anticipate adding that 12th player,” he said.