The Sun returned from Detroit this morning, where coaches and players met for a film session but chose to forgo a shoot-around. With Phoenix coming to Mohegan on Sunday, they will have one Saturday -- in place of a full practice. Outside of their first weekend back from the Olympic break when they play Indiana and Atlanta on consecutive nights and then Seattle two days later, this three-game-in-four-day stretch is the busiest set of games for Connecticut.
The Atlanta Dream, though, did partake in a shooting session late Friday morning. They haven't played since Sunday's 97-76 loss to Detroit, and arrived in Connecticut Thursday evening. Several of the AAU teams who are part of tonight's 11-and-under AAU championships opening ceremony were milling around, and Atlanta coach Marynell Meadors allowed many of them to come in for autographs with the players.
What they found was a loose team, laughing and taking half-court shots after the session was finished. Atlanta (0-13), in its first year as a franchise, is trying to avoid the longest losing streak to start a season in league history. It is currently tied with the 2002 Detroit Shock for the record.
"Our focus is Connecticut," Meadors said. "We're still very, very young and inexperienced and the players have not been in situations that we're putting them in right now. We're looking long-term and we're definitely going after a win so everybody will stop talking about it. But our enthusiasm and our spirit, I know you can tell on the court, this is how it is every day. We just haven't won. We've been close enough. We just haven't won."
Erika de Souza, the former Sun player who the Dream picked in this year's expansion draft, was on hand, wearing a cast on her right leg where she suffered a fracture earlier this season against Washington. She still has friends here; Sun director of basketball operations Bill Tennel greeted her with a hug when the team was wrapping up its shoot-around.
Here's the scout box, which ran in today's print edition but not online:
ATLANTA DREAM at CONNECTICUT SUN
7 p.m. today
Mohegan Sun Arena, Mohegan
Records: Connecticut 11-4; Atlanta 0-13.
Last game: Connecticut lost to/beat Detroit, 70-61, on Thursday; Atlanta lost to Detroit, 97-76, on Sunday.
Next game: Connecticut hosts Phoenix; Atlanta plays at Detroit. Both games are Sunday.
Series: Connecticut won the only previous meeting between the two teams, 100-67, in the season opener. It marked the Dream's first game as a franchise.
Injuries: Connecticut—None reported. Atlanta—Erika de Souza (lower leg fracture, out).
Scouting report: Atlanta is trying to avoid the worst start in WNBA history. Its 0-13 mark matches that of the 2002 Detroit Shock. ... Some of the Dream's notable problems include: rebounding, as they've outrebounded just one opponent this season; consistency, as 10 different players have started at least one game; and defense. Opponents are shooting a league-high 45.4 percent against them. ... Tamika Whitmore, who has failed to score in double figures in four straight games, scored 22 points and grabbed 10 rebounds last time against Atlanta. ... Entering Thursday's game, the Sun had held three of their last four foes to fewer than 70 points. ... Mohegan Sun Arena hosts the opening ceremonies of the girls 11 and under AAU National Championships prior to today's game. ... It's also Dads and Daughters Day at the arena. All dads and daughters that register on www.connecticutsun.com prior to this evening will have the opportunity to take a photo with Blaze, the Sun mascot, on center court following the game.
Update: Here's the USA Today preview for tonight's game.