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.”
After the Friday’s game, the Sun come right back Sunday against the Washington Mystics at the casino.
The Lynx, who had played so well in their first four games – victories by an average of 15.3 – just survived a huge comeback by the Mystics Wednesday. The Lynx squandered a 24-point lead before Lindsay Whalen’s put back with 1 second to play gave them a 79-77 win. They are now the 10th team in WNBA history to open a season with five straight victories. Dating to last season, they have won 11 straight.
“We know that if we defend and rebound we can get through anything on the road,” said coach Cheryl Reeve. “We have that mental and physical toughness that’s required to win on the road,”
The Sun are 3-0 for the first time since 2008 and have excelled in the post, with Charles and Asjha Jones, and in the backcourt, with Renee Montgomery coming off the bench and Allie Hightower developing as an offensive and defensive threat.
“I love how we’ve started out the season,” Renee Montgomery said. “It’s going to be tight at the end (of the regular season), so the more (wins) you get in the beginning, it’s great
Montgomery scored 23 against the Silver Stars, the most points scored by a Sun bench player since she scored 33 in 2010 against the Lynx, with whom she began her career.
“Renee Montgomery?,” said Silver Stars coach Dan Hughes. “She broke us down.”
Should Montgomery be asked to remain in that role all season, her former UConn coach, Geno Auriemma, believes it might be the best thing for the remainder of her career. When Montgomery was cut from USA Basketball’s World Championship team in 2010, Auriemma, the national team coach, had some advice for her.
“When I cut Renee, I told her that she wasn’t good enough and she wasn’t mature enough,” Auriemma said earlier this week. “She needed to grow up. And these things will help her grow up.”
Charles had 18 points and eight rebounds Friday to become the fastest player in WNBA history to reach 800 career rebounds. She did it in her 71st career game, one game faster than Yolanda Griffith.
`’I’m just doing my job, going out there and playing hard and getting boards,” Charles said. “I’m a center. That’s what we’re supposed to do – clean the glass.”
McWilliams-Franklin To Coach
Former Connecticut Sun center Taj McWilliams-Franklin has been named an assistant women’s basketball coach at Rice. McWilliams-Franklin of the Lynx, now in her 14th WNBA season, will join the Owls staff when the Lynx season ends. This likely means that 2012 will the last of her career. At 41, she is the WNBA’s oldest player this season and has a one-year contract.McWilliams-Franklin is averaging 7.5 points, 6.3 rebounds and 27.8 minutes through four games.
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