Thursday, August 23, 2007

Tidbits before tip-off

The Sun and Fever are about 35 minutes from tipping off in Game 1 of their best-of-three first-round playoff series at Mohegan Sun Arena. Starting lineups will be posted soon, but here are a few quotes and tidbits that didn’t make it into today’s coverage in the Bulletin.

Sun coach Mike Thibault on Margo Dydek and the effect she can have on opposing offenses:
“On the defensive end, just the fact that she can change the angle of people taking shots coming to the basket (makes her effective). She’s a huge defensive presence. The last couple years the defensive field goal percentage (of our opponents) has gone down and the previous two years to this, people were shooting 38, 39 percent against us. And even when you sub her out, people forget that she’s not in there and they stop going to the basket.”

Indiana coach Brian Winters talked about Dydek’s ability to hurt teams offensively from the outside in today’s preview, and Thibault also touched upon it in Tuesday’s conference call with the media:
“That’s not how she grew up playing the game,” he said, referring to Dydek’s lack of a back-to-the-basket-type game. “She grew up with face-up game over in Europe. As much as I would like her to (be in the blocks) and she’s worked on that, she really does stretch defenses because she can make 3-point shots and you can’t guard her as conventionally as other post players.”

Against the Fever this year, Dydek is averaging 8.5 points and 9.25 rebounds, the most against any team in the WNBA this season.

Catchings is expected to return tonight after missing the final 13 games of the regular season but in two games against the Sun this year, she scored just eight and nine points, respectively. She scored in single figures only once the rest of the year (nine against New York on July 12).

This has nothing to do with the Sun-Fever series but it’s interesting nonetheless. Mercury coach Paul Westhead, well known for running a fast-break oriented team, was asked if he was concerned his players would wear out by this point in the season. Phoenix set a league record by averaging better than 88 points per game, and lives and dies by its run-and-gun approach.

The top-seeded Mercury play at Seattle on Friday to open their first-round series.

“My approach has always been when you get in situations like that, when in doubt, go faster. We’re pretty well conditioned to play that speed game. We’ve played four games in eight nights on the road and it didn’t seem to have any impact on our pace, particularly when you play against the same team. We’re more geared to do that more than most people. If both teams seem a little tired going into game two or three, I think that will play to our advantage.”

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