Before heading to practice at the Mohegan Sun Arena on Friday prior to Saturday’s WNBA All-Star game, a number of players took the time to speak to about 75 children at New London’s Bennie Dover Jackson Middle School in New London where the league helped install a new court.
The Courant’s Matt Conyers caught up with three of the state’s favorite WNBA players and asked them what it was like to take part in the morning’s event.
Maya Moore Lindsay Whalen and Allie Hightower
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.
Every so often I am reminded about what a “niche” sport women’s basketball truly is. For those of us imbedded in its vibrant world here in Connecticut, it is impossible to believe, what with the success of UConn and the WNBA’s Connecticut Sun.
But it is true. Hardly anyone outside of Connecticut cares. When the USA-Brazil women’s game began Monday (at 5:30), there were maybe 5,000 people in the Verizon Center. By the time the men’s game ended, the place was practically packed.
And among the more than 200 credentialed media for the doubleheader, not more than a dozen watched and charted the game with the intention of trying to professionally report on it, myself, Jim Fuller of the New Haven Register, Doug Feinberg of the Associated Press, Mel Greenberg, the Hall of Fame women’s writer, and a few others.
The rest took naps or had dinner.
Sad but true.
Ironically, Lindsay Whalen could be one of the keys that unlocks Geno Auriemma’s first – and likely only – Olympic gold medal as a head coach next month in London.
“You watch Lindsay play, and you don’t get a full appreciation for her until you’re around her in practice and you see some of the things she does,” said Auriemma. “I always knew that she had the ability to get to the basket. I always knew she was one of the toughest kids in the league.”
That was abundantly clear Monday when Whalen scored 21 points (8-of-12) with five rebounds and five assists to lead the USA to an easy 99-67 win over Brazil at the Verizon Center.
Good morning constituents….
I’ve been basically away for the last three weeks, making occasional stops to check in on the Connecticut Sun, most likely the best team in the WNBA this season.
Not much going on with the UConn women these days; Stef Dolson jumped out of an airplane, Caroline Doty was working with a Canadian soccer team, Heather Buck attended Wednesday night’s Sun game, Bria Hartley made USA Basketball’s 3×3 team, Breanna Stewart was named high school female athlete of the year by Gatorade and this Kelley Hardwick, Geno Auriemma, NBA thing.
Oh yes, Auriemma and six former Huskies are reuniting this weekend with USA Basketball in Washington to preparation for the Olympics.
That is where I am. In Washington.
Before the WNBA season began there was talk that it could end with the Connecticut Sun and Minnesota Lynx playing for the championship.
So far, the speculation has proven on point. The Lynx (5-0) and the Sun (3-0) are among the three league teams still without a loss. But that will change Friday when they meet at the Mohegan Sun Arena at 7. Many good seats remain and you can find them on the team’s website www.connecticutsun.com.
“Yes, I think so,” said Sun coach Mike Thibault when asked if was happy with the start. “Especially, when you have your starting center [Tina Charles] misses most of training camp and Tan (White) just getting back now [from a concussion]. Considering all of that, I am more than pleased.”
The Sun hasn’t played since defeating San Antonio last Friday at the casino. The week off has proven both to be a blessing and a curse. It stunts momentum, but offers time to make improvements.
“It’s almost like getting a second training camp,” Thibault said. “It’s a big weekend.”
HERE IS THE REPORT FROM WNBA.COM ABOUT MINNESOTA’S SEASON-OPENING WIN OVER PHOENIX SUNDAY.
note the absence of a popular former UConn player.
Seimone Augustus scored 19 points before leaving with bruised ribs, and the Lynx didn’t let up in a 105-83 season-opening victory over the Diana Taurasi-less Phoenix Mercury on Sunday.
“Once the banner went up and the lights went on and we started to warm up for the game, it was about 2012 and what we’re trying to do,” Augustus said.
There is little idle time for the world’s elite women’s basketball players. One day they are in the WNBA, the next flying to Seattle to slip on the USA jersey for 72 hours.
iN the winter, they are off to the world capitals of Europe and Asia, hanging out in Prague or embarking on a 22-hour trip from Spain to Ekaterinburg, Russia for just one EuroLeague game.
Still, this is the best time ever for players like Minnesota’s Maya Moore, the former UConn All-American, and Lindsay Whalen, the former Connecticut Sun all-star. They are spanning the globe, maximizing their inherent skill – taking breaths whenever possible.
“I call this time of year, May Madness,” said Moore Thursday, after Minnesota, the defending WNBA champion, opened the 2012 preseason with a win over the Connecticut Sun at Mohegan Sun Casino.
After tonight’s game against Minnesota at Mohegan Sun Arena, the Connecticut Sun concludes its preseason May 14 at Washington.
But on Friday, Tina Charles and Asjha Jones, along with Minnesota’s Maya Moore, Lindsay Whalen and Seimone Augustus, will leave for Seattle for where they will practice Friday night with the USA Olympic Team, coached by UConn’s Geno Auriemma.
USA will play China Saturday night at the Key Arena, home of the WNBA’s Seattle Storm. The USA will practice Sunday with Japan and Sunday night Jones and Charles will fly to Washington in time of the Mystics preseason games.
Good afternoon everyone. We are getting ready to transition into summer basketball here and that means the start of WNBA training camp for the Connecticut Sun.
The Sun hold media day Tuesday from 4-6 p.m. on the floor of the Mohegan Sun Arena, where the bullriders were last weekend. Hopefully, the mess has been cleaned up – if you know what I mean.
Every Sun player is expected to attend media day except Mistie Mims, the free agent post formerly known as Mistie Bass. She is still playing overseas.
Immediately after media day, the Sun will open the doors to the arena so the fans can pour in an watch the team scrimmage until 7. Admission is free.
The season begins with a preseason game against the Minnesota Lynx, the defending league champs, on May 7 at the casino. That means a chance to see Olympians Maya Moore and Lindsay Whalen and the first pro game of rookie Devereaux Peters of Notre Dame, a Minny draft pick.