Following the Friday’s game in New York, the Comnecticut Sun, who broke a three-game losing streak with a win in Indiana on Wednesday, play Seattle at the casino on Sunday. The Storm are without both Lauren Jackson and Sue Bird for the season.
The Sun, Storm, Fever and San Antonio Silver Stars (without stars Becky Hammon and Sophia Young) are four teams dealing with the serious fallout from the WNBA’s dubious decision to cut the roster size to 11 players before the 2009 season.
What’s worse, that move was accompanied with a directive preventing teams from replacing long-term injuries until it reaches the “emergency” state of eight active.
I don’t know what the next step will be for Mike Thibault, the former coach of the WNBA’s Connecticut Sun.
“I’ve got some time to think about it,” he said last night at the XL Center.
But I do know two things about him and his situation..
The first is, the media that had the pleasure of covering him during his 10 seasons as Sun coach grew to like him as much as a person as it learned to admire what he has contributed to basketball on many different levels. How many times does some dopey basketball writer like me get to meet someone who has been an NBA assistant, a CBA head coach, an Olympic assistant gold medal winning coach and a WNBA 200-win coach? Frankly, I miss him already. He put the Sun into the summer for me and all those who were around him.
Connecticut Sun center Tina Charles, the 2012 WNBA Most Valuable Player, was the leading vote-getter among those selected to the league’s first all-star team Wednesday.
Charles led the league in rebounding for a third straight season and set a Sun record by averaging 18.0 points. She received 196 points in the balloting of 41 national and local sportswriters and broadcasters at the end of the regular season. Players were designated by position and received five votes for for first and three for second.
Forwards Candace Parker of the Los Angeles Sparks (176) and Tamika Catchings of the Indiana Fever (161) and guards Cappie Pondexter of the New York Liberty (128) and Seimone Augustus of the Minnesota Lynx (95) round out the First-Team.
It was inevitable Thursday that the Indiana Fever or Connecticut Sun would leave Mohegan Sun Arena feeling like their soul was ripped out.
It’s the nature of sport. Only one team can win the final game of the series. Only one team can win the final game of the year.
What the Fever never expected was that feeling could come after their biggest win of the year.
This year, Indiana is the team with the shot from the Eastern Conference. But it paid a big price.
Playing for the last 35 minutes without Katie Douglas, the star of the first two games, the Fever pulled together, shot with incredible accuracy (55.7) and blasted the Sun, 87-71.
“There really isn’t a lot to say when you get your butts beat like that,” Sun coach Mike Thibault said.
No review of Connecticut Sun playoff history is complete without acknowledging the central role Katie Douglas has played in it.
Douglas, named to Connecticut’s All-Decade team this year, was a crucial component of Connecticut’s WNBA finalists in 2004 and 2005. She played in 27 postseason games in her five seasons with them (2003-07), averaging 11.4, sinking 45 threes with her trademark left-handed shot put release.
In her final game with Connecticut, a Game 3 loss at Indiana in the 2007 Eastern Conference playoffs, she fought valiantly, scoring 27 points in an overtime loss.
But times change; circumstances and uniforms as well.
Thursday at the Mohegan Sun Arena, Douglas and the Sun are together again in a pivotal playoff setting when the Sun and Fever play the deciding Game 3 of the Eastern Conference final [ESPN2, 8:30 p.m.]
However, Douglas is on the other side now, trying her best to get the Fever to its first championship, just as she did for so many years for the Sun.
Neither has won one.
Scoring 51 points in the first two games, Douglas has been using many of the offensive tricks taught to her by Sun coach Mike Thibault.
“I’m trying to toy with the defense,” Douglas said after scoring 24 points in Monday’s Game 2 win in Indianapolus. “I’ve been playing so many years, give Coach Thibault the credit. He taught me the pick and roll. He’s definitely made me into a pick and roll player.”
There is something about the way Lin Dunn delivers a message, the way her southern cadence focuses you, that can even make a challenge sound sweet.
Dunn, the longtime coach of the WNBA’s Indiana Fever, looked at the statistical evidence of her team’s 76-64 loss to the Connecticut Sun Friday and promised that it soon would change when Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals is played Monday in Indianapolis (ESPN2, 8 p.m.)
“If they [the Sun] win the boards, they’re probably going to win the ballgame,” Dunn said. “We were even at half, and then they come out on top and they got 15 second-chance points.
“So, we’re going to take five of those second-chance points, we’re going to hit four or five more of our shots, we’re going to get to the free throw line two or three more times, and we’re going to win the second game.
“That’s how we’re going to do it.”