Now nine games into the season, Mike Thibault still isn’t quite sure which team he’s going to see on any given day.
After shooting 61.7 percent in a win against Atlanta last Sunday, Thibault, coach of the Connecticut Sun, was pleased. After shooting 33.3 percent three nights later in a loss to Los Angeles, he was chagrinned.
And then came Friday against New York, a night when it all seemed to click in historic fashion during a 97-55 demolition of the Liberty.
The ups and downs of the week had Thubault in a philosophical mood.
“The ying and yang of our team,” he said.
Whatever team shows up Sunday when the Sun (7-2) plays in Atlanta, one thing is already certain. It’s been a great start to a season of promise, one aided by seven home games.
“When I looked at the schedule at the start of the season, I hoped we could have seven or eight wins [after nine games] and we met that goal so far,” Thibault said. “We have tough road games coming up [including Thursday in Indiana], but I think we are a lot more prepared mentally to go on the road and play these games.
“I think our team has a sense about itself, how you’re supposed to play to win. We’ll see if it carries over. Their confidence about each other is good. The biggest thing is we talked about after was the loss to Los Angeles was how good teams have to learn to throw those [losses] away quickly. You should be eager to get back on the court, erase the taste in your mouth. They wanted to get back out and play and take it out on somebody, it didn’t matter we were going to play. I think whoever we were going to play was going to get the residual effect from the other night, when we had the chance to win and we didn’t. So they took it out on New York.”
The 42-point victory was the largest in franchise history; the previous 34 points [81-47] over Washington in 2005. It was also the worst defeat in Liberty history; the previous 37 points [91-54] against Seattle in 2006. The Sun set a WNBA record for biggest halftime lead  by scoring five points in the last four seconds. Its 61 first-half points was also a franchise record.
Making matters worse for New York [3-7] was the James Dolan, the boss of Madison Square Garden, was in the front row watching it all unravel.
“We’ve created great chemistry, due to having so many home games,” Sun forward Mistie Mims said. “We’ve been able to use our crowd for energy. Now we’ll be able to continue to use it as a platform to take on the road.”
The Sun had six players in double-figures, led by Tina Charles, who scored 20 in just over 23 minutes. The balance in Connecticut’s scoring this season has been one of its highlights. A team-record seven players reached double-figures at Indiana June 8.
“That’s what I hope for, that’s what I like,” Thibault said. “Our teams that went to the finals had that almost ion a nightly basis. It was [for opponents] kind of pick your poison. You want to take away Tina [Charles]? Anybody else can take the shot. We’re basically, for the most part an unselfish team.”
The Sun has already clinched the season series with New York, having won each of the first three meetings. That provides an important tie-breaker in the conference pennant race.
“Everything is going great,” said Sun guard Tan White. “We were able to use our losses [to Minnesota and Los Angeles] to re-evaluate ourselves and make improvements. It’s been a great start. It’s always good to win early. When you come back from the Olympic break, you’ve already got those games. And we’ve won a series. It feels good.”
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