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Miller signs a four-year extension with the Sun – The Collinsville Press
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Miller signs a four-year extension with the Sun

The Connecticut Sun signed Curt Miller to a four-year extension. Miller has led the Sun to three winning seasons and the 2019 WNBA finals. (Photo courtesy Connecticut Sun)

Curt Miller, who led the Connecticut Sun to the WNBA finals in 2019 and was one victory shy of returning the Sun to the finals in 2020, has signed a four-year extension with the team through the 2024 WNBA campaign, the team announced on Tuesday.

Miller, the team’s general manager and head coach, has been with the organization for five years and has led the Sun into the playoffs for the last four seasons.

“I’m incredibly proud of the culture and sustained success we have established. So much of that has to do with the players we have had and continue to have here and their excellence both on and off the court,” he said. Per team policy, no details about the contract were released.

Miller has shown he can build a franchise. He put together a core of players that went to the 2019 WNBA finals with the Sun dropping the decisive game five to the Washington Mystics. He added All-Star DeWanna Bonner to the 2020 team before the COVID-19 pandemic turned his plans upside down.

All-Star Jonquel Jones decided to sit out the season and the WNBA decided to play a pandemic-shortened 22-game schedule in about seven weeks in a bubble in Bradenton, Florida. The Sun began the season with a 1-6 record but didn’t panic, earned a playoff berth and came within one win of another appearance in the finals.

Connecticut (10-12) became just the third team in WNBA history to begin the season five straight losses and earn a playoff berth. The Sun were seeded seventh out of eight teams.

“Curt has done a tremendous job during his tenure,” said Amber Cox, Vice President of Sports at Mohegan Sun. “He’s built a culture on and off the court that has resulted in sustained success, making this a destination for players, coaches and staff. I’m thrilled to extend Curt’s contract and continue our journey to help bring home the franchise’s first WNBA championship.”

The 2021 WNBA free agency qualifying offer period began on January 1 and runs until January 14. On January 15, the free agency negotiation period begins and on February 1, teams can begin signing players.

Hired prior to the 2016 season, Miller led the Sun to a 14-20 record, including a three game win-streak to end the regular season. Prior to the 2017 season, Miller added general manager duties to his role. He then guided the team to back-to-back 21-13 records in 2017 and 2018, advancing to the WNBA quarterfinals both years. Miller was awarded WNBA Coach and Executive of the Year and Associated Press Coach of the Year in 2017.

Among active coaches in the WNBA, Miller sits with nine playoff wins, the most of any coach over the last two seasons and second behind Mike Thibault (12) for most playoff wins by a team/coach since 2017.

Prior to joining the Sun, Miller spent time at Bowling Green State University from 2001-12. In 11 seasons, he compiled a record of 258-92 and set the record for most coaching victories in a career and a season with 31 in 2006-07. He also earned Mid-American Conference (MAC) Coach of the Year a record six times and led the team to eight consecutive regular season MAC titles and five MAC tournament championships. Miller also coached at Indiana University from 2012-14 before entering the WNBA.

Sun sign Mompremier

Beatrice Mompremier signed a deal to remain with the Sun on Monday.

On Monday, the Sun announced that rookie Beatrice Mompremier had accepted and signed a qualifying offer. “Beatrice was a fantastic addition and showed impactful moments throughout her rookie season,” Miller said. “She immediately helped us with rim protection and rebounding at both ends of the court.”

Mompremier was drafted in the second round by the Los Angeles Sparks this spring but was cut before the season began. Connecticut picked up the 6-foot-4 forward as a free agent to help solidify the middle of the lane with Jones sitting out the season.

Mompremier made an immediate impact on the Sun’s rebounding efforts during the 2020 season. In 21 regular season games, Mompremier averaged 8.9 minutes per game in which she posted 2.3 points per game, 3.3 rebounds per game.

The University of Miami graduate, garnered a career-high 16 rebounds against the Las Vegas Aces on September 3 after tallying 10 rebounds in the first half.

Appearing in all seven of the team’s postseason competitions, Mompremier averaged 3.6 total rebounds per game as well as 2.7 defensive rebounds per game. In game two of the semifinals against the Aces on Sep. 22, Mompremier grabbed nine rebounds, eight of which were defensive. She also scored six points, added one assist, one steal and three blocks.

Hiedeman signs with Sun

Back-up point guard Natisha Hiedeman signed a qualifying offer with the Sun on January 8. Hiedeman, who has been an integral component to the Sun’s offense off the bench, returns for her third season in the league. Adding relief at the point guard position, she appeared in all 22 regular season games during 2020 and led the team in points and assists coming off the bench.

“Natisha is a fantastic teammate and has been an important spark plug for us,” said Sun general manager and head coach Curt Miller. “She has established herself as one of the best young back-up point guards in the league and has a bright future heading into her third year.”

She averaged a career-high 6.1 points per game, tied her career-high in assists averaging 1.9 per game and grabbed a career-high 1.9 rebounds per game. She also scored 45 made field goals on 127 attempts in 22 games which nearly doubled her made field goals recorded in 2019 in 20 games.

In Connecticut’s game against the Phoenix Mercury on Sept. 9, the 5-8 guard posted a career-high 16 points on six field goals made. The highest draft pick to come out of Marquette, Hiedeman was selected 18th overall in the 2019 WNBA draft by the Minnesota Lynx and was traded to the Sun in exchange for Lexie Brown in a draft-day trade.

Gerry deSimas, Jr., is the editor and founder of The Collinsville Press. He is an award-winning writer and has been covering sports in Connecticut and New England for more than 30 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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