In terms of their long-term welfare, the best thing that happened to the Connecticut Sun last week likely occurred off the court.
Renee Montgomery, the winner of the WNBA’s 6th Woman Award last season, had the walking boot removed from her severely sprained ankle. That means Montgomery, who hasn’t played since May 31, is closer than ever to returning.
That’s literally a step in the right direction for the 2-7 team with the worst winning percentage (.222) in the league.
“It’s one of those things you have to be very careful with,” Montgomery said. “I don’t want to come back too soon and re-injure it.
“There were many worst-case scenarios when I was first injured because they didn’t know how it would heal. But right now I am track. Let’s just say I hope to be back sooner rather than later.”
The Sun also need Tan White (hand) and Kara Lawson (back), too. Lawson has missed the last two games with a sore back and hasn’t worked much in the last 10 days. White has been out since June 1.
“We are not just missing pieces,” Sun forward Mistie Bass said. “We are without huge, monumental pieces. It’s like New York without its Statue of Liberty at this point. … We are missing many aspects of our game that just aren’t there.”
The Sun have lost four straight, seven of eight coming into Tuesday’s game against the Tulsa Shock (3-10) at the Mohegan Sun Arena. The Shock have lost three straight.
“It’s very disappointing. I’ve been here before in this situation,” Tina Charles said. “It’s not how you start; it is how you finish. We just have to keep playing hard and keep approaching practices the way we have been doing and see if we can come back from this.”
Here’s a sign of the times for the Sun, who were within one win of the WNBA Finals last year: The game has lost so much appeal ESPN2 decided not to televise it, allowing the team to move the starting time back to 7 p.m.
“The goal is to stay together,” Bass said. “The goal is to clean up the mistakes we continuously make. I feel as soon as we can get one win after all these losses we can build on it. But while we are here in the dark, it is tough to see some light.”
Saturday’s 19-point loss to Phoenix was Connecticut’s largest of the season. It was the byproduct of poor shooting, accented by the 3-of-18 turned in by Charles, beleaguered lately by defenses intent to bottle her up.
“We can’t give up,” Allison Hightower said. “We just have to keep working.”
Most of Charles’ points were scored on a career-high 19 free throws on a career-high 24 free throw attempts. The 19 makes is second in most WNBA history, trailing Cynthia Cooper who made 22 vs. Sacramento on July 3, 1998.
Charles’ 24 free throw attempts tied Cooper’s record set the same day.
Despite the seventh double-double of her season (Charles had 13 rebounds) it was a game that accentuated what the Sun currently do not have – offensive depth at any position and ball movement.
The Sun shot 27.3 percent (9-of-33) in the first half, the lowest percentage they shot in any half this year. The nine field goals made were the least in a half this season.
“Give Tina [Charles] a ton of props,” Sun coach Anne Donovan said. “I thought she did a great job on both ends of the floor. But unfortunately, the rest of us let our guards down. When you’re not shooting the ball well, you better play at the other end of the floor and we sure didn’t defend them the way we needed to.”
Still, Charles is shooting just 20-of-73 (27.4 percent) from the field in the last four games following a 30-point effort at Indiana on June 12.
As for the Shock, Liz Cambage, the 6-8 center from Australia, is back in after missing eight games with an ankle injury.
She returned last Friday with 10 points, seven rebounds and four blocks in 18 minutes in a loss at Indiana. She had nine points and three rebounds and no blocks in Sunday’s loss at Washington.
Rookie Skylar Diggins, the All-American from Notre Dame and the WNBA’s third overall draft pick, is off to a poor shooting start (5-of-32,15.7 percent) from three-point range. But she is averaging over five assists a game, the most of any league rookie.