Monday, August 27, 2007

Excitement building

Tip-off for Game 3 of the Sun-Fever series is a little more than three hours away. Here are some keys to tonight’s match-up:

(1) Offensive remarks: Outside of their first-half performance in Game 1 of this series, the Sun’s offense has been spotty at best, mainly because of its inability to hit open shots. Connecticut’s shot under 40 percent in three of their last four games and its struggles hit a new low on Saturday, when only Katie Douglas scored in double figures and it scored eight second-quarter points.

One of the main reasons for this has been their inability to get going on the fast-break. They were rarely in transition Saturday, and with so many shots not falling from the outside, they weren’t able to overcome that with a key lay-up from time to time.

(2) Road to victory: With Saturday’s performance, it may have felt like the Sun were done. But remember, this is a team that’s been better on the road all year (10-7 during the regular season, as compared to 8-9 at home) and had won every game in Indiana for two years before Game 2. Things like that don’t change with one loss.

(3) Forging ahead: To contain Anna DeForge (28.7 points in her last three games against Connecticut), the Sun will have to be better in a number of areas: One, pick-and-roll defense. That responsibility falls on the post players like Jones and Margo Dydek as much as Douglas and Sales. They’ll need to do a better job of flaring out to prevent DeForge from hitting open 3s off screens as well as backing each other up to cut down on pick-and-roll passes to Tamika Catchings or Tammy Sutton-Brown for easy lay-ups. It’s a lose-lose situation at times but too often they’ve failed to step and put a hand in DeForge’s face.

Two, forgo help defense. Whether its Katie Douglas or Nykesha Sales, the Sun may want to release them from help-defense responsibilities off her. Given, most of the time they do give help defense, it’s on Tamika Catchings. But Catchings still hasn’t proven she can hit jumpers consistently since returning from her foot injury. Perhaps those guarding her (Jones, Kristen Rasmussen, etc.) play off her a bit, take away the lane and make her beat them from the outside.

When the Sun shut down Catchings at home back on June 30 (4-of-13 shooting, five fouls), it was Douglas who covered her. But don’t expect her to be switched off DeForge, for obvious reasons.

(4) Getting it back: It’s simply a mindset, but the Sun need to regain some of swagger they had during the second half of the year. It may only take a few quick lay-ups and a few stops, but it’s important.

(5) Margo factor: As much as players like Sutton-Brown and Tan White have been non-factors this series, Dydek’s effect has not been nearly what is was expected to be. That’s mainly because the Fever haven’t needed to challenge her inside with DeForge hitting so many perimeter shots. If she starts cold and Indiana is forced to look in the paint more, Dydek can play a big role in turning the tide here.

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