Saturday, September 13, 2008

Sun set for Mystics without their stars

Greetings from Mohegan Sun Arena. The Sun and Washington Mystics tip off in a few moments, but here are some things to know for today:

(1) As expected, Lindsay Whalen isn't playing today to give her sprained right ankle more time to heal before the playoffs. But coach Mike Thibault also chose to hold out his other MVP candidate, Asjha Jones. The seventh-year forward isn't injured, but Thibault didn't want to risk the possibility of her getting hurt, similar to last year when in the closing seconds in a game at Washington, she suffered a severely sprained ankle that carried over to the playoffs. Tamika Raymond is starting in her place. Jamie Carey, fighting off her own injury (turf toe), is starting in place of Whalen, but expect Erin Phillips (a season-high 11 points Thursday) to see double-digit minutes as well.

Thibault also considered holding out Tamika Whitmore, but he said the forward wouldn't let him. "She wants to play too bad," Thibault said. Whitmore has never played fewer than 27 games in a season, and has played the full 34 each of the last five seasons, this year included.

(2) With Whalen and Jones' regular seasons officially done, it's time to put their seasons in perspective. Whalen is the second player in WNBA history to average at least 10 points, five rebounds and five assists in a season, joining Nikki Teasley, who in 2003 averaged 11.5 points, 6.3 assists and 5.1 rebounds.

Whalen’s numbers (14, 5.35, 5.6) are arguably better, considering she could have went scoreless, rebound-less and assist-less in the Sun’s final two games and still accomplished the feat.

Jones, meanwhile, has enjoyed perhaps the finest offensive season in franchise history. At 17.0 points per game, she tied Katie Douglas (2007) for the Sun’s highest single-season average, and her 223 field goals are a franchise best, eclipsing the mark of 210 set by Nykesha Sales in 2004. Of the Sun’s top four scoring performances, no one has shot better over a season than Jones either (.483).

Had the seventh-year forward played today, she also could have surpassed Douglas’ record for most points in a season (577 in 2007). Jones finished with 561.

(3) Today's game has no impact on the Sun's place in the Eastern Conference standings, as their playoff series with New York is already set to kick off 7 p.m. Thursday at Madison Square Garden.

Today's full starting lineups:

G Jamie Carey
G Amber Holt
F Kerri Gardin
F Tamika Raymond
C Tamika Whitmore

G Nikki Blue
G Alana Beard
F Monique Currie
F Tasha Humphrey
C Nakia Sanford

Officials: #38 Lamont Simpson, #15 Scott Twardoski, #51 Kane Fitzgerald

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