UNCASVILLE, Conn. -- Kelly Faris walked off the floor for the last time at New Orleans Arena with 2:04 remaining and the University of Connecticut women's basketball team well on its way to a win over Louisville in the 2013 NCAA championship game.
It would mark the sixth time in eight years -- four times at Heritage Christian in Indianapolis and twice at UConn -- her team would win its final contest of the season.
But the winning didn't follow her to the WNBA. In four seasons with the Connecticut Sun, the former first-round pick has not seen the postseason.
"It's been frustrating, very frustrating," Faris said. "I was fortunate enough to be on some great teams in high school and college. I'm going into my fifth year as a professional and I would love nothing more than to be in the playoffs."
The 26-year-old guard hopes to do that with the Sun, but knows -- again -- she has her work cut out for her if she is to make the 12-player roster.
Connecticut opens the exhibition season Tuesday night when it takes on the Chicago Sky at Mohegan Sun Arena.
Faris was a restricted free agent after last season. But the Plainfield, Indiana, native wanted to stay in Connecticut and the Sun wanted her to return.
"I kept everything open," Faris said. "I would have loved to come back here and I let them know that. I was going to work on my game and hopefully have a bigger role on the team if they wanted me here. This is my home away from home. I let things happen and they wanted me to come back. I appreciated that."
She played in 31 games off the bench for the Sun and averaged two points, 1.2 rebounds and 0.7 assists in 10.2 minutes. While the Sun finished strong under first-year coach Curt Miller, winning 11 of their final 18 games, they missed the playoffs for the fourth straight year, finishing at 14-20.
Connecticut also re-signed starting guards Alex Bentley and Jasmine Thomas, drafted former DePaul guard Jessica January in the third round and brought back former All-Star Allison Hightower. It drafted guard Rachel Banham with the fourth overall pick a year ago and picked up former South Florida guard Courtney Williams in a midseason trade.
So maybe the odds are against Faris, but she's heard it before.
"Same old, same old," Faris said. "It's the same kind of comments that go around every year. 'What are you going to do? Is this a crossroads for you? Blah, blah, blah.' But, for me, I approach it the same every year which I've done from my rookie year until now. I believe that I'm going to have to work really hard to make the team. I know it's going to be a tough camp. But I love the challenge.
"I come in and I want to prove that all the work I put in is worth it. I try to lay low on that and just play. When you start thinking too much about that stuff, things crumble. I stick to what I'm doing and doing the things that I can control."
Faris spent most of the winter in Indiana but did go to Israel for a month and played for Bnot Hertzeliya there. She averaged 13.8 points and 2.6 assists in five games there.
"It was a real good experience," Faris said. "I got some good playing in, got to play point guard a bit. I really enjoyed it.
"I worked on the same things I always worked on and when I went overseas I did get to play some point guard. Coach may not want to use me there, but last year we got stuck there a little because of all the injuries. I want to be someone that they can throw into any position they need me to play. The more versatile I am, the better."
The Connecticut-Chicago game Tuesday is part of a two-day event at the casino. The action starts Tuesday at 5 p.m. with the Los Angeles Sparks facing the New York Liberty, followed by the Sun and Sky at around 7 p.m. On Wednesday, Chicago and New York play at 5 p.m. followed by Los Angeles and Connecticut at 7 p.m.
Faris hopes it's the start of a big season for her that will end in a postseason berth.
"I enjoy winning a lot, but I would say I hate losing more," Faris said. "I try to be positive but within the game I am critical of myself. I'm really excited to get going."