Thursday, May 29, 2008

Off and running

Following their 75-46 loss to Indiana on Tuesday, the Sun have refocused on their running game during practice the last two days as they prepare for a rematch with the New York Liberty Friday night (7 p.m., MSG/NBA TV).

Mike Thibault even brought in film of his 1993 CBA champion Omaha Racers -- who averaged nearly 120 points per game -- "so they can kind of see where my vision is for them (as far as) tempo," the coach said. The heightened level of intensity carried over to practice where the team spent the at least the final 30 minutes of practice (that of which is open to the media) running full-court drills and scrimmaging.

"We’ve had some tired people walk out of here the last couple days," Thibault said. "Basically, I think Coach (Scott) Hawk said it best (Wednesday) to them. He said, we have really high expectations for them because we think they have the ability, but their expectations of themselves have to get up to where ours are. They need to raise their expectations of what they’re capable of physically, skill-wise and everything. It’s still a learning process right now."

Look for more in tomorrow's Bulletin, but here's the Scout Box for Friday's game, with more info from Thursday's practice. Also, check back here later tonight for an update on former UConn players around the league.

7 p.m., today
Mohegan Sun Arena, Mohegan

Records: Connecticut 3-1; New York 1-2.
Last game: Connecticut lost to Indiana, 75-46, on Tuesday; New York lost at Detroit, 72-62, on Sunday.
Next game: Connecticut plays at Chicago Sunday; New York hosts Seattle Tuesday.
TV/Internet: NBA TV, MSG/
Series: The Sun lead the all-time series, 18-16, and are 10-7 against the Liberty at Mohegan Sun Arena. Connecticut took the previous meeting between the teams this season, 77-63, in New York on May 18.
Injuries: Connecticut—Kamesha Hairston (out, recovering from surgery to repair torn meniscus). New York—Jessica Davenport (out, stress fracture in tibia).
Scouting report: Sun guard Lindsay Whalen sat out portions of practice Wednesday and Thursday with what coach Mike Thibault said was a sore Achilles’ tendon. But he didn’t seem concerned. “She went more full-court (Wednesday),” Thibault said. “I don’t if it’s an Achilles’ strain. (But) it’s sore, and we wanted to kind of give her some rest days right now.” … Thibault said he expected a much more energized New York team than the one the Sun saw in the Liberty’s season opener less than two weeks ago. Despite a 10-point loss at Detroit on Sunday, New York has gotten solid play from its younger players off the bench, especially Tiffany Jackson, who is tied for the team lead with 5.3 rebounds per game, and rookie Erlana Larkins, who saw just four minutes the first time against the Sun. “It was only their second game,” Thibault said of the teams’ first match-up. “They only had on exhibition game, and then a regular season game and like everybody else, with some people who only had a couple days of practice (beforehand). I think we’ll see a better New York than we did down there.” … Thibault said he’s contemplating changing the starting lineup to find a rotation that would better help the Sun avoid a slow start. But Barbara Turner, the team’s top reserve thus far, pointed to other problems. Connecticut has given up 21 or more points in the first quarter in three of its four games this year. “It’s just the speed of the game that we play at,” Turner said. “I think we play fast instead of smart early on. The last few days, we’ve been practicing hard and going fast, but he (Thibault) wants us to be efficient at the same time.” … The Sun will honor the CIAC girls high school basketball champions for the third straight year during halftime of tonight’s game. Class LL champion Career, Class L champion Kolbe Cathedral, Class M champion Avon and Class S champion Bloomfield will all be recognized during a ceremony at mid-court.

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