Sunday, June 29, 2008

Sun-Mercury Starters, etc.

The Sun and Mercury tip off in about an hour here at Mohegan Sun Arena. As he did in the teams' first meeting, Mike Thibault has moved Ketia Swanier into the starting two-guard position to guard Cappie Pondexter, pushing Barbara Turner back to her reserve role after starting each of the last four games. Swanier played a shade under 18 minutes in the Sun's 102-81 loss to the Mercury back on June 18; Pondexter played 29 minutes, scoring 22 points.

Thibault likes Swanier's quickness when matching her up with Pondexter. The former UConn star played defensive stopper late in Friday's win over Atlanta, holding Betty Lennox to seven points (including a meaningless 3-pointer with 3.4 seconds to play) in the final eight minutes of the game after she scored 37 through the first 37, single-handedly keeping Atlanta in the game.

Here's the full lineups, with today's officials:

Connecticut Sun
G 13 Lindsay Whalen
G 11 Ketia Swanier
F 1 Amber Holt
F 15 Asjha Jones
C 00 Tamika Whitmore

Phoenix Mercury

G 3 Diana Taurasi
G 23 Cappie Pondexter
G 2 Kelly Miller
F 43 Le'Coe Willingham
C 50 Tangela Smith

Officials: (4) Sue Blauch, (15) Scott Twardoski, (28) Angelica Suffren

Some notes for today's game:

(1) Most of the buzz, as it is every time she returns, surrounds Diana Taurasi, though Phoenix has rarely been successful in her trips to Connecticut. The Sun are 6-1 all-time at home against Phoenix, the lone Mercury win coming on May 22, 2004 when Taurasi scored 26 points as a rookie. Taurasi is averaging 20.8 points in four games at Mohegan Sun Arena.

(2) After four years with the Sun, Le'Coe Willingham is having the best season of her career and first as a starter. She's averaging personal bests in points (9.3) and rebounds (6.3), and ranks third in the league in shooting percentage (55.8).

(3) Despite the obvious toll an overtime game like Friday's 109-101 win can take on a player, Tamika Raymond said Friday's near-collapse to the winless Dream may have been a good thing.

"We kind of have this cycle where we win two or three and then we take a little lull, Coach comes back, we go hard at practice and then we get that fire," Raymond said. "I think that was actually good thing for us, especially with a Phoenix, who has been up-and-down, and a Houston (the Sun's opponent on Tuesday), who is on their own little roll and coming back. So I think it was good for us to see that if we don't come and do the little things, if we're not there on every screen, if we're not pushing their guards, if we're not boxing out, if we're not getting rebounds, those little things, things we can really clean up on, we can lose games.

"And Friday night the worst team in the league almost came in and beat us at home because we had one of those things where we didn't want to do the little things."

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