There will be plenty of pressure on Connecticut Sun head coach Anne Donovan this summer.
A year ago, the Sun finished first in the East with a 25-9 record and went to the WNBA’s Eastern Conference finals before melting down in a game 3 loss at home to eventual league champion Indiana. That helped cost long-time head coach Mike Thibault his job.
That pressure on Donovan got a little higher on Thursday as All-Star forward Asjha Jones said she would sit out the 2013 WNBA season due to nagging injuries.
“I do not feel like I would be fit and ready to play this summer,” Jones said. “I did not think that would be fair to coach (Anne) Donovan or to the Connecticut Sun organization, which has treated me so well over the past nine seasons. I wish the team a great season in 2013 and look forward to returning in 2014.”
Jones, who has played nine years in Connecticut, started off strong last year but missed 14 regular season games with a strained Achilles tendon. She returned to average 13.6 points and 6.4 rebounds in five playoff games.
Jones provided Connecticut with another offensive threat to give league MVP Tina Charles additional breathing room to operate. Jones frequently took some of the more challenging defensive assignments, such as defending Indiana’s Tamika Catchings in the Eastern Conference finals. Jones also provided a veteran presence with her 10 years of experience in the WNBA.
“It’s disappointing to hear that Asjha will not be back with the team this season,” Donovan said. “But I am confident in the ability of the players we do have returning, and I am looking forward to a great year.”
Connecticut did play most of the second half of the season last summer without Jones, who was injured in July when she straining her left Achilles tendon when Washington center Michelle Snow accidentally stepped on her foot. Jones had limited playing time with the gold medal winning U.S. Olympic team in London during August.
Jones had her 2009 WNBA season cut short by an injury to her left Achilles tendon. She missed four games to open the 2010 season for that same injury.
Jones joins former UConn teammate Sue Bird on the sidelines this summer. Bird, who plays for Seattle, is also taking the season off to remove a cyst from her knee. Seattle’s Lauren Jackson is also out for the season, to recover from a hamstring injury.
The Sun open training camp on May 5 and kick off their preseason schedule against New York on May 11.