Friday, July 6, 2007

Sun begin road trip tonight

Sorry for the long wait between posts this week. I’ve moved into a new place in Norwich and have been without Internet since last Saturday. Expect a bevy of entries over the next week.

OK, enough about me. On to the important stuff …

The Sun kick off their West Coast road trip tonight in Phoenix against the Mercury. Coincidently, as the Sun try to pull themselves out of this rut they’re in, they’ve started to do it against the only two teams they’ve beaten in the last month: the Indiana Fever (which they beat on consecutive Fridays the last two weeks) and now the Mercury (who they beat at home earlier in June).

As outlined in today’s advance story on the game, Connecticut handcuffed Phoenix in that win with solid defense from the opening tip to the final whistle. Realistically, it’s been the only game this year in which they’ve played the entire 40 minutes. Perhaps they’re just motivated against certain opponents. Perhaps they step up against the best teams. (Their best games in June were against Detroit, Indiana and, of course, Phoenix)

Whatever it is, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Sun start to play well on this road trip. The bench is starting to play better – especially Erika de Souza, Kristen Rasmussen and, though she has started lately, Evina Maltsi. Nykesha Sales is expected to play at least a game or two this next week. And Katie Douglas, who has long said she or someone else needs to step up as the team’s leader, is looking that way after her performances the last two weeks against the Fever.

Rookie Kamesha Hairston, another improving option off the bench, knows this well.

“It’s been like a rookie year should be – it’s been up and down,” Hairston said. “You have some good games, you have some bad days, and I’m learning a lot. And I’m learning a lot from KT. I admire her and I continue to look at her and how hard she works and her desire and will to win.”

Tonight, expect the Mercury to come out firing with Diana Taurasi back in the lineup – she was suspended two games for making comments to the referees and returned to score 15 points against Minnesota on Tuesday. But mind you, the Sun have an added advantage tonight with Margo Dydek, who sat out last time against Phoenix. The Mercury, for all the points they put up, lack size and depth down low.

* * *

Some quick hits from practice the other day:

Sun coach Mike Thibault on what has been surprising to him thus far this year (and it seems like he’s answered this question differently at different times; then again, a lot has been surprising):
"Some of it is our inconsistent perimeter shooting, which has been the worst it’s been in the five years. The fact that we are in the bottom of the league in three-point shooting, it’s hard for to envision it given our past."

Douglas on whether the first 16 games was an indicator of the second half to come:
“Let’s hope not. For our franchise, for our sanity and for our sake, it’s not a good a testament of what’s to come because we’ve been extremely inconsistent and it’s disappointing. So we’re hoping to bounce off that win we had Friday and take that kind of energy and that kind of focus and determination and hopefully get it done on the West coast.”

Check the home page of for updates at half time and following the game, which starts at 10 p.m.

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