Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Thoughts and quotes entering game with New York

Some pre-game news from New York: the Liberty acquired guard Lisa Willis from the Los Angeles Sparks in exchange for guard Sherill Baker today. With the 5-foot-11 Willis, the fifth overall pick in the 2006 Draft, New York gets a little taller (Baker is 5-8), and adds a little more depth. Baker, the 12th overall pick in last year's draft, had played in three games this year, averaging 4.3 minutes and 1.7 points a contest.

As for the Sun, they enter tonight still looking for that elusive fifth win and consequently, an end to their team-record four-game losing streak. From talking with forwards Asjha Jones and Kristen Rasmussen on Monday -- and judging by coach Mike Thibault's instructions throughout practice -- it seems the forwards were taking the recent struggles from the guards upon themselves.

Whether that be from setting poor picks or not finding the open players on the wings, it helped give a little insight into why someone like Katie Douglas has been struggling to get both quality touches and points.

"They're on the wings and our plays are (designed) to get them screens and get them open, and we haven't even gotten to half of those," Jones said of the guards. "So for me, I'm gonna keep my focus on myself and keep my patience going, but also make those better screens to get K.T. open. Because I gotta do that, I gotta get these guys open and do whatever I can to help.

"I'm watching the video and my down screens are not good," she continued. "For me, I wasn't getting a good hit on people to get K.T. that open shot she normally gets."

If Douglas and Nykesha Sales can get on track, Lindsay Whalen produces like she has in her last four or five games and Ashja Jones -- who hasn't seen too many double teams yet this year -- continues to keep that rhythm in her jump shot, look for big things out of this Sun offense.

If that happens, their problem with turnovers may turn around (or not matter as much).

Margo Dydek has also found a small groove recently, hitting 14-of-26 shots (53 percent) in her last four games. She also had four blocks on Sunday.

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Another quick thought on Rasmussen: Though the forward, like many of her fellow bench players, isn't scoring like the reserves of past years for the Sun, Rasmussen did play some quality defense on Chicago forward Candace Dupree on Sunday, though her final line (28 points) may not indicate that. Of course, as reported in Tuesday's article in the Bulletin, Thibault is looking for more offense out of her as well.

As for Erika de Souza, who had a great start to the season scoring-wise but has largely been a non-factor in recent games off the bench, Thibault said he believes she will be a big contributor as the season progresses. In her defense, de Souza hasn't played in the WNBA since 2002, spending three seasons in the Spanish League, where she was named the MVP in the 2005/06 season.

(A side note: de Souza's last name has been spelled differently in past articles because her name is spelled differently in certain places. Boxscores has it as "DeSouza," while her warm-up shirt reads "DE SOUSA." Rest assured, it is "de Souza.")

Check back around 8 p.m. for a halftime update of tonight's game with New York. Players to watch on the Liberty: Erin Thorn, Shameka Christon and Catherine Kraayeveld. Also, former UConn standout Ashley Battle makes her return to Connecticut tonight. Battle, a 2005 grad, plays off the bench for New York.

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