Friday, July 11, 2008

Sun still confident

Some notes and reaction from Sun practice Friday at Connecticut College:

(1) Despite losing two straight games — and becoming the final team in the league to do so this season — the Sun remain upbeat about the direction of the team.

"The main thing, we look at the losses and the games we played, it's not like a team just came out and beat us," forward Tamika Whitmore said. "In the losses we've had, we beat ourselves, either with too many turnovers or not doing the little things in a game. And it's just a matter of us correcting what we need to correct. It's not like a team has come out and just made us lose a basketball game. We made ourselves lose, so once we correct ourselves, we should be OK."

Lindsay Whalen also added that she thinks the Sun played "really well" in Tuesday's 88-82 loss in Detroit, just the Shock "beat us in the last two minutes." So the Sun returned to New London — it's felt like a long time since they've been there — to find a repainted gym (a blue strip hugs the bottom part of the wall) and a continued focus on individual skill along with team drills. Sun coach Mike Thibault deems it necessary to continue to push skill training considering the Sun's youth, and estimated Connecticut spent 45 to 60 minutes of the last two practices working on shooting, footwork and the like.

"Just trying to get better of that," he said.

(2) Cutting down on turnovers has also been a focus. The Sun committed just 11 against Detroit, but several came late in key situations. It was the same situation Saturday in Indiana: Connecticut turned it over 13 times, but several of them turned into easy transition buckets in an 81-74 Fever win.

At one point during practice Friday, Thibault stopped play after Amber Holt tried skipping a pass through a defender's hands and yelled, "Pass around them or fake it and then pass it. The physics won't allow you to do it any other way." And there's no arguing with physics.

"You can't have those kinds of plays if you want to be a championship team," Thibault said. "All I told them is everything I'm going to be on them about has nothing to do with if we beat team A or team B now, it's how good can you be by the time you have to play in September and October. Every day has to be pointed toward that. And if you do that, then you will take care of the games in front of you. We concentrate on the opponent in front of us but the skill sets are long-term things."

(3) Whitmore has struggled of late for several reasons. She's trying to recapture the rhythm she had shooting the ball earlier in the season while also trying to recover from a back injury. A regular visitor to the chiropractor since the end of high school, Whitmore couldn't find time to go last season between finishing her WNBA season, traveling to go play overseas and finalizing the purchase of her house.

That, she believes, led her to injuring her back for the first time in practice prior to the Detroit game, which has sapped her of strength and flexibility. She visited a chiropractor on Thursday and plans to make regular visits every few weeks. I'll have more on Whit in Sunday's advance of the Sun-Mystics matchup (set for 3:30 p.m. on ABC).

(4) Speaking of Washington, the Sun fly out early Saturday and will practice in the nation's capital later that afternoon in preparation for Sunday's tip. Washington plays at Detroit tonight, three days after overcoming a 14-point first half (yes 14 points) to beat the Indiana Fever in the season's lowest scoring game thus far, 50-48.

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