JONQUEL Jones of the Connecticut Sun and Candace Parker of the Los Angeles Sparks were yesterday named the WNBA’s Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Week respectively, for games played June 12-18.
Jones earned Player of the Week honours for the first time in her two WNBA seasons. In leading the Sun to a 2-0 week, Jones paced the Eastern Conference in rebounding (10.0 rpg) and blocks (2.5 bpg) and shared the lead in steals (2.0 spg). She also ranked sixth in scoring (17.5 ppg) and third in field goal percentage (.737, 14-of-19).
The 6-6 forward/centre opened her week with 19 points, a game-high 12 rebounds and three assists in a 96-76 home win over the New York Liberty on June 14. Three days later, the former George Washington University star helped Connecticut hand the WNBA-leading Minnesota Lynx its first loss of the season. In the Sun’s 98-93 road victory, Jones finished with 16 points, eight rebounds, four blocks and four steals as Connecticut improved to 5-5 for the season with its fifth win in six games.
Parker earned Player of the Week honours for the 19th time in her 10-year career. Behind the 6-4 forward/centre, the Sparks went 3-0 for the week and improved to 8-3 overall, the second-best record in the WNBA. Among West players, the two-time WNBA MVP was seventh in scoring (18.0 ppg) and rebounding (6.3 rpg). She also tied for second in blocks (2.0 bpg) and for third in assists (5.0 apg). Parker was eighth in three-point shooting (.417, 5-of-12) and made 13 of her 14 attempts from the free throw line (.929).
On June 13, the former University of Tennessee standout tallied 17 points, seven rebounds and five assists as the Sparks defeated the Dallas Wings 97-87 in Los Angeles. Two days later, Parker contributed 20 points, four rebounds, four assists and two blocks to help guide the host Sparks past the San Antonio Stars 80-75. Parker closed the week with 17 points, eight rebounds, six assists and three blocks as Los Angeles beat the Phoenix Mercury 90-59 on June 18 in a game that also saw Phoenix guard Diana Taurasi become the WNBA’s career scoring leader.
Other candidates for the Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Week were Connecticut’s Alyssa Thomas, Dallas’ Skylar Diggins-Smith, the Indiana Fever’s Tiffany Mitchell, Los Angeles’ Chelsea Gray and Nneka Ogwumike, New York’s Tina Charles and Shavonte Zellous, and the Washington Mystics’ Tayler Hill.
Jones and the Sun have made the most of a difficult early season schedule. Connecticut spent 17 of 19 days on the road and had to play Minnesota three times in the first 10 games. But they are sitting at .500. They started the season 0-4 and have won five of six despite missing starters Morgan Tuck — knee bruise — and Alex Bentley — EuroBasket tournament. Connecticut also has been without its top post reserve as Lynetta Kizer is dealing with a back issue.
“We lost three close games early in the year by two points,” Connecticut coach Curt Miller said. “This young group is learning how to get to the finish line and learning how to win games close. More than anything they’ve just stuck together, believe and stayed in the system for what we wanted to accomplish.”
The Sun moved up to seventh in The Associated Press WNBA power poll this week, their best ranking ever since the poll started last year. Connecticut visits New York on Friday for its lone game this week.