For the first time as a franchise, the Sun are 3-0 after handily dispatching Sacramento 87-64 Saturday. The Sun have now won all of their games by at least 14 points, and boast a margin of victory of 23.3 points in remaining the only undefeated team left in the Eastern Conference.
Here are some key notes from Saturday's surprising laugher:
(1) Lindsay Whalen notched 21 points, five rebounds and five assists, and did most of her damage in spurts. She scored seven straight points at one point in the second quarter and another eight straight again in the fourth. The first run was vastly more important, however, as it gave the Sun their first lead on the night, 29-28, the highlight being a long 3 in front of the Sun bench with six minutes to play until the half.
"In the first half, we were always down four, six, eight, 10. I think we were even down 12 at one point," Whalen said. "I just tried to be aggressive, and I just tried to look for my shot a couple times, just try to get things going. And I think everybody kind of felt that. The one possession I can think of is when I shot the 3 instead of trying to drive to try to get us going. I thought that, maybe that's not the best shot to take, but I could get this one to go, that could get us going. That's my thought process."
(2) Amber Holt scored a career-high 15 points in a little over 21 minutes, mostly working inside for rebounds (she led the Sun with seven) and lay-ups. The performance came after scoring a total of eight ponts her first two games.
She and Barbara Turner also had the task of slowing down Kara Lawson, which outside of a quick 10 points in the first half they did. Holt was especially aggressive denying the ball and has continued to show a gritty work ethic inside.
"We drafted her because we thought she was pretty multi-faceted player. The greatest pleasure I have in it is coming out of college, if you read every bio about her, (it said) she was the leading scorer in the country. And what we saw when we saw her play was a very committed defensive player.
"And I think she's one of the brightest players I've ever coached," he continued. "Her basketball IQ might be off the charts. She doesn't have to be told anything twice. She sees things like point guards see it sometimes."
Holt, like several of the Sun's rookies, has continued to impress the veterans around her as well.
"I see someone who's fearless," Turner said. "She doesn't play like a rookie at all. Most rookies who start in the WNBA, sometimes they play a little tentative and haven't seen that in Amber. I think she has the opportunity to be one of the best defenders in the league just because she's so strong on the perimeter."
Holt, of course, is also known as perhaps the Sun's quietest players.
"No, no, no, Amber doesn't talk at all," Turner said. "She gives me the good, 'Hi Barb!' because I had to tease her one time about saying, 'Hi Barbara,' being shy. I'm so talkative and out-going myself, I got her out of that shell a little bit."
(3) The Sun now have 23 3-pointers in two games, including a Mohegan Sun Arena-record 13 against Sacramento. Connecticut may be a much-improved outside shooting team this year, but Thibault said "he isn't putting any trends out there" considering how early in the season is.
"We had a bad start shooting 3s early in the game, but our 3-point shooters stuck with it," he said. "Barb and Jolene (Anderson, who hit two 3s), that's what they do. They stayed with it and it turned the game around. They give you some of those shots, too, because of the way they play defense. They load up the strong side of the floor and dare you to beat them with those types of passes. As the game went on, they got tired and we got a little bit smarter, and we found those people more easily. It was a great win."
Turner was especially hot from outside. She took 10 3s, making a career-best five. She shot 6-of-13 from the field for the game.
"I was watching in the first quarter and I saw some of the opportunities that would be open," she said. "So I was saying to myself on the bench that I might have a lot of open shots. I just have to be ready to knock them in."
Sacramento coach Jenny Boucek said she didn't think all of Turner's looks were "all easy shots." But conceded that the third-year guard/forward "shot great."
Tamika Whitmore hit three 3s as well, giving her eight on the year, but she said she doesn't want to be known as a shooter.
"A shooter looks for that 3," she said prior to the game. "They live, even die about it. Me, I don't care if I have to put the ball on the floor and go to the hole, take a mid-range jumper. I just read what the defense gives me, and I take it and run with it."
(4) Asjha Jones played her 200th career game Saturday, and with 12 points, pushed her streak of double-figure scoring games to 13 dating back to last season. It ties her for the fifth longest in team history. Katie Douglas set the record in 2006 with 17 straight.