Sunday, August 8, 2010

'Hey, Anete, they wanna know if you're playing'

Greetings everyone. Just arrived at Mohegan Sun Arena and tip-off between the Sun and Mystics is about an hour away.

The Sun and coach Mike Thibault have had a busy pre-game thus far. The team posed for its annual picture and then posed for a photo with its Legends ticket-holders, those who've had season tickets each season the Sun have been in Connecticut. Thibault then held a half-hour 'chalk talk' with fans inside Mohegan Sun Arena, fielding questions largely about about why the team has struggled to a 13-14 record that has it on the outside of the playoff picture looking in.

At one point, a fan asked if Anete Jekabsone-Zogota -- who was shooting on the court throughout nearly the entire Q & A session -- would play. Jekabsone-Zogota has been out since June 27 and underwent arthroscopic knee surgery more than four weeks ago.

A smiling Thibault, who was talking into a microphone piped in through the arena speakers, turned to Jekabsone-Zogota and said, "Hey, Anete, they wanna know if you're playing." Jekabsone-Zogota smiled and shook her head, indicating neither yes or no.

"Even she doesn't know," Thibault quipped.

Jekabsone-Zogota is exepcted to dress for the second straight game, but it remains to be seen if Thibault uses her. She's not in the projected starting lineup, where she played in each of her 14 games she's appeared in.

As for today, a loss could all but end the Sun's playoff hopes. They're three games back of Washington and New York for a playoff spot, and a loss to the Mystics (with another game looming with them Tuesday) would drop the Sun four games back with six to play and no longer holding the season-series tiebreaker; they currently lead it 2-1.

Though in that situation, it's mathematically possible to rally to a postseason berth, it'd likely take a six-game winning streak to close the season -- or close to it -- and a late slide by either of the current playoff teams to make it happen.

That's not to say the Sun haven't responded in a similar situation before. Sun media relations manager Bill Tavares reminisced about the 2003 season, when the Sun needed to close out the regular-season with two straight wins before playing Indiana in a do-or-die, one-game playoff for a postseason berth. They beat Charlotte and Washington on back-to-back nights and then topped Indiana at Conseco Fieldhouse to qualify for the playoffs. Once there, they swept Charlotte in the first round before Detroit swept them out of the Eastern Conference finals.

As for what else to watch out for today: Tina Charles needs one more double-double to set the all-time WNBA rookie season record; she's currently tied with Candace Parker (2008) and Yolanda Griffith (1999) with 17. With seven games to play, she has a great chance to surpass Natalie Williams (2000) for the overall WNBA season record of 19.

Please note, however, that Washington is the only team in the WNBA this season besides Seattle to hold Charles without a double-double. Of the league's other nine teams, Charles has recorded at least one against them; Seattle 'held' her to 23 points and seven rebounds on Thursday.

In the Sun's three games with Washington this season, Charles has done the following:
* May 23: 10 points, eight rebounds
* May 30: 13 points, nine rebounds
* July 27: 15 points, nine rebounds

So she's been close. Stay tuned.

Also, the Sun are wearing pink uniforms today for its Pack the Place Pink promotion to promote breast cancer awareness.

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