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Donovan makes her transition to the Sun

By Ned Griffen

Publication: The Day

Published April 14. 2013 4:00AM
Tim Cook/ Day File Photo
Anne Donovan, beginning her first season as head coach of the Connecticut Sun, will lead the team into Monday's WNBA Draft. The Sun were 25-9 last year with a trip to the league semifinals.

Romeo now resides in the region, confirmation that new Connecticut Sun coach Anne Donovan has officially moved into the state and is on the job 24/7.

"When my cat (Romeo) moves in, you know its permanent, and that happened (last) weekend," Donovan said. "He's the barometer of where I live. He's 16. He's going to outlive me."

Donovan began working last week on a daily basis at Sun HQ deep in the ground at Mohegan Sun. A Jersey girl, she had been making trips back and forth from her home that she bought when she became the head coach at Seton Hall in March, 2010.

"I rushed into buying a place in New Jersey," Donovan said. "Now I'm stuck with it for another year I still have a hefty mortgage. I have to wait for the market to come back."

Housing may be the only challenging part of Donovan's transition from Seton Hall to her new gig. A major part of a college and professional coach's life is packing up and moving to another part of the country and Donovan has done her share of bouncing about. She was the interim coach during the Indiana Fever's inaugural 2000 season and has been the head coach of the Charlotte Sting, Seattle Storm and New York Liberty.

"It's been a relatively seamless transition in the sense that I have a lot of experience doing this very thing," Donovan said. "I think I was able to mentally prepare and physically prepare as much as possible during the Seton Hall season. When the season was over, I had a team dinner with the players. I was already through the next couple of stages of my exit strategy, if you will.

"The (Sun) organization has been so great. (Vice president/general manager) Chris Sienko has been so helpful I think Mitch Etess (the Mohegan Sun's Chief Executive Officer) has come down to the office every day to talk, so I think we're in."

Donovan couldn't dedicate time to scouting college players for Monday's WNBA Draft, so assistant Jennifer Gillom did much of the prep work; the Sun (25-9 last season) have the 11th pick in the first round. Donovan hired Gillom, a former WNBA player and coach, a month into the job.

"I've got good people around me and that's the only way it's going to work," Donovan said.

The final piece of Donovan's transition will be meeting the team. Most are playing overseas, so she began using "whatever mode of communication was available" to talk with them.

Kalana Greene and Kara Lawson are the only players Donovan has coached. Greene played for Donovan during her 2010 rookie season with New York. Donovan was USA Basketball's national head coach at the 2008 Summer Olympics and Lawson scored a team-high 15 points during the team's gold medal win.

"The rest of the team, I'm super excited about," Donovan said. "It's a new beginning for everybody and there's an opportunity for everyone to come into training camp and start over. There's an opportunity for players to step up and step into different roles. With Asjha (Jones) gone, it's a big hole to fill, but it's something they've dealt with before (when she missed games to injury).

"They've learned how to adjust to the uncertainty of when she was going to play (in the past), but now we know. It's a little bit easier sometimes, I think, when you know there's a hole there."

n.griffen@theday.com

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