June 9, 2024 

Tyasha Harris’ career-best start is helping to fuel the Connecticut Sun’s success

Stephanie White: 'It’s still going to be a growth process'

Connecticut Sun guard Tyasha Harris has had her minutes nearly double so far this season — and so has her production. The Sun’s starting point guard has been one of the key reasons that the team is off to a league-best 9-1 start this season. She has seamlessly stepped into a larger role and turned heads while doing so.

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Harris was drafted by the Wings in 2020 and spent three seasons in Dallas before she was traded to the Sun in 2023. In her first season with Connecticut, she averaged 5.8 points off the bench, making her mark as a sharpshooter with an elite 46.4% 3-point percentage on the season. 

Still, she played just 16.7 minutes per night last year. Now, as one of the Sun’s starting guards, Harris is scoring 10.7 points per game, dishing out 3.4 assists – and playing 31.4 minutes a night, third-most of any Sun player.

“The minutes – I really don’t realize it until after the game,” Harris said. “I’m just ready when my number is called.”

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Coaches have taken notice of Harris’ improved production

Sun head coach Stephanie White praised Harris for how she stepped in the face of a larger role this season. The former South Carolina star had a slow start to her pro career, but is an early Most Improved Player candidate through 10 games. 

“I’m proud of Ty,” White said. “Last year, when Ty came in, we knew that she had the tools, she just needed an opportunity. Getting an opportunity a year ago, and getting a feel and getting a sense for what it’s like to really play rotation minutes in this league.”

Harris is shooting 37.8% from downtown, the best on the team, but a substantial drop from her 46.8% figure last season. Part of that dip is the result of opposing teams recognizing her as an elite shooter and treating her as such.

“She was an outstanding 3-point shooter for us a year ago, but she’s not going to be a surprise now,” White said. “So, getting her shot up quicker, getting her shot up behind screens with the ball in her hand, so she can become a playmaking guard for us.”

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The 3-point shooting is particularly important for the Sun as they currently rank last in the league in 3-point percentage, converting on just 28.7% of attempts. On average, only the Wings and Sky make less 3-pointers than the Sun (4.8 makes).

Harris’ hot start began with a big opening night; she scored 16 points on 4-for-6 shooting from three and had casual fans who tuned in for Caitlin Clark’s professional debut taking a closer look at her. She hit several key shots down the stretch of close games – sinking a 3-pointer and game-winning free throws in a four-point win against the Fever on May 20, and hitting big shots in clutch victories against the Sky and Wings as well.  

Connecticut Sun guard Tyasha Harris (52) during the WNBA game between the New York Liberty and the Connecticut Sun at Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, Conn. on June 8, 2024. (Photo Credit: Chris Poss | The Next)

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Harris’ leap is result of meticulous offseason work

White credited a lot of Harris’ growth to her work with the assistant coaches in the winter. 

“This offseason, she really committed herself to, 1) getting healthy, and 2) getting stronger,” White said. “She was in Connecticut a lot, working with our strength and conditioning coach, working with our player development coach, really working to get better. And she’s come in, and she’s owned the starting position, and she just continues to learn and grow.”

Harris prioritized addressing persistent injuries and ensuring she was better suited to avoid contact moving forward. 

“She had some lingering injury issues that she was getting up to,” White said. “She was getting stronger in the weight room all the time with our strength and conditioning coach, working on being able to create her shots, working on being stronger and being able to initiate and accept and absorb contact.”

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Inevitably, with the highs — Harris scored in double-figures in 6-of-10 games so far – there have also been lows. Most recently, in the Sun’s first loss of the season against the Liberty on Saturday, she shot 5-16 from the field, including 1-6 from three. 

“It’s still going to be a growth process,” White said. “There’s still going to be some ups and downs, just experiencing being a starter and playing a lot of minutes in this league for the first time, but she’s handled it all really well. She’s incredibly coachable, and she wants to learn. She wants to get better.”

Opposing coaches have taken notice of the point guard’s improved play. Mystics coach Eric Thibault said it was clear that Harris found a home in Connecticut. 

“Ty Harris is having a great season,” he said. “She’s shooting the hell out of the ball, she fits their group in terms of being patient offensively – she just plays kind of at her speed. She’s got good pick-and-roll partners – point guards would love to play with Alyssa Thomas as a ball handler.”

Connecticut Sun guard-forward DiJonai Carrington (21) Connecticut Sun forward-guard DeWanna Bonner (24) Connecticut Sun guard Tyasha Harris (52) and Connecticut Sun forward Brionna Jones (42) during the WNBA game between the Washington Mystics and the Connecticut Sun at Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, Connecticut, USA on June 04, 2024. Photo Credit: Chris Poss

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For Harris, however, the improved opportunity is rooted in team success. Inconsistent guard play is something that has plagued Connecticut in recent years as the franchise chased its first-ever championship. If Harris and DiJonai Carrington can continue to serve as reliable starting guards, the Sun could get it done.

“If everybody’s doing their job, we’re very dangerous, top to bottom,” Harris said. “We have each other’s back.” 

The Next’s Natalie Heavren contributed reporting for this story. 

Written by Noa Dalzell

Noa Dalzell covers the Boston Celtics for SB Nation's CelticsBlog, and the Connecticut Sun for The Next Hoops. Her work has also appeared in FanSided and Swish Appeals, as well as CLNS Media. When she's not writing about basketball, she's playing basketball or lobbying for a more sustainable food system.

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