On Friday at Mohegan Sun Arena, Storm forward Breanna Stewart will play in the state of Connecticut for the first time as a professional. After routinely attending Connecticut Sun games during her four years at UConn, Stewart will be looking to help her team pick up its second victory over the Sun in as many games this season.
The Storm arrived on Wednesday and won’t be leaving until Saturday, giving Stewart a few days to spend in the state where she won four consecutive national championships and was selected with the No. 1 pick in the WNBA Draft. Stewart confirmed her family is making the drive from Syracuse, N.Y., to see Friday’s game, in addition to numerous members of the UConn program.
“It’s going to be a really fun night. I’m looking forward to coming back,” Stewart said on a conference call earlier this week. “My friends and my family are coming, the UConn team is coming and I know the fans are excited. …This will be an exciting night. This was my home away from home, basically.
“I’m looking forward to seeing my family. That’s one of the biggest things. That’s the biggest difference between being on the West Coast and being four-and-a-half hours away.”
Stewart was named Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four in all four of UConn’s title runs, and she won AP Player of the Year a record three straight seasons. She became the fifth UConn product to be selected first overall in the WNBA Draft. After eight games of her pro career, Stewart ranks in the league’s top 10 in points, rebounds and blocks and has earned a Rookie of the Month honor.
“Just enjoy it. It’s an opportunity for them to continue to celebrate her and for her to just soak it in,” head coach Jenny Boucek said of her advice for Stewart. “Enjoy it and get lost in the moment.”
Friday’s contest also features the second matchup between Stewart and Sun forward Morgan Tuck, who won all four of those titles alongside her. Stewart, Tuck and Moriah Jefferson (San Antonio) became the first trio of college teammates to be selected with the top three picks in the draft.
When these teams met for the first time on May 28, Seattle earned a 93-81 win at KeyArena as Stewart was one of five starters in double figures. Tuck had the first double-digit scoring game of her WNBA career with 10 points.
“It’s going to be fun to be able to square off against someone who I am close friends with and have done a lot with in basketball,” Stewart said. “We’ll be competitive when the game starts.”
The Storm enters Friday’s game at 3-5, aiming to bounce back from a loss to New York last weekend. Connecticut is at the bottom of the league standings with a 1-7 record.