Friday, August 1, 2008

A few notes on ... Jamie Carey

We continue our daily look at the good, the bad and the outlook for the Sun roster. Next up ...

Jamie Carey
5-foot-6 guard
Averages: 4.0 points, 1.1 assists, 42.4 percent 3-point shooter (team best)
The Good: Statistically, Carey has never been better in her four-year career. Her points per game are on pace for a career high, as are her rebounds and overall, she's never shot better from the field (42.7 percent). Of course, Carey's main strength is her ability to stretch defenses with her 3-point shooting ability and though she's a few ticks off the 45.1 percent she was shooting last season (which led the league), she already has 28 3s (compared to 32 all of last year) and has enjoyed some of the best games of her career, including a six-3-pointer, 18-point game against New York. With rookies Amber Holt and Ketia Swanier in the backcourt and Barbara Turner struggling in recent weeks to recapture her stroke, coach Mike Thibault has asked Carey to shoot more than she ever has, and she's obliged. Carey entered this season in as good of physical shape as she's ever been and despite the sore Achilles' tendon she's dealt with all season, she's been among the league's most reliable back-up point guards.

The Bad: There's not much Carey has failed to do, though her size puts her in tough spots defensively at times. She's often made up for with effort, but the Sun do give up height with her in (as they do Swanier), something they usually can't afford to do as one of the smallest teams in the league anyway. There were times earlier in the year when Carey wasn't shooting like she has in recent weeks, and that's a problem. Besides handling the ball, there's not one thing Thibault asks of her more than providing the occasional scoring lift.

Outlook: It will be interesting to see how the introduction of Erin Phillips to the Sun's lineup affects Carey's playing time. Between her, Jolene Anderson and Ketia Swanier, I would suspect Carey would be affected the least because of A) her recent play, and B) she's a veteran who's experience only grows in value later in the season. Thibault has gone to two-point guard sets at times, including combinations of Lindsay Whalen and Carey, and Whalen-Swanier, so if Phillips adjusts quickly, I wouldn't be surprised to see a Carey-Phillips backcourt at times. Thibault's philosophy also says one 3-point shooter should always be on the floor, so that only helps Carey's cause to keep her 14 or 15 minutes per game.

The question is: Will Carey continue to shoot as well as she has? I believe so. Fatigue, especially in the legs, affects shooters more than anyone, so the last month off will help Carey stay strong through the season's final weeks. She's also only gotten better as this season has gone along. If, in the end, she loses time to Phillips, which in turn hurts her confidence, then that might affect how willing she is to pull the trigger. But being a coach herself (she'll lead the girls program at Legacy High School in Colorado this winter), she has a better understanding that fewer minutes doesn't mean fewer responsbilities when you're actually in the game.

Some notable milestones for Carey as well: She's three field goals from setting a new career high with 38 for the season (she has 28 3s and seven two-point baskets so far this year); she needs eight more points for a new career high; and she needs only 46 minutes of time on the court to set a new career best in that category.

On deck: Kerri Gardin
In the hole: Sandrine Gruda

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