Tuesday, September 2, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

WNBA: Sun's Day In New York

(Guru's Note: Following coverage early last week of Elena Delle Donne's decision to return to basketball, the Guru spent a few days in Avalon, N.J., at the ECAC-SIDA convention, Then it was on to family lockdown for niece Allison Swartz's wedding Saturday night to Aaron Greenfield. Thus, no WNBA advances for the start of the season opener. However, with all decks cleared, the ball is picked up and the Guru took a quick trip up to Gothan for the Liberty opening game.)

WNBA: Sun's Day In New York

(Guru's Note: Following coverage early last week of Elena Delle Donne's decision to return to basketball, the Guru spent a few days in Avalon, N.J., at the ECAC-SIDA convention, Then it was on to family lockdown for niece Allison Swartz's wedding Saturday night to Aaron Greenfield. Thus, no WNBA advances for the start of the season opener. However, with all decks cleared, the ball is picked up and the Guru took a quick trip up to Gothan for the Liberty opening game.)

By Mel Greenberg

NEW YORK - Using the advice of that old song from yesteryear the Connecticut Sun took Manhattan Sunday in several ways.

   A few hours earlier before being part of the New York Liberty's season opener in Madison Square Garden, some of the contingent from casinoland took a tour of the revamped Times Square scene.

   Mike Thibault's group then dominated the third quarter, 19-6, on the way to a 66-57 victory over the Liberty that quickly helped erase the Sun's 82-70 opening loss to the Washington Mystics on Saturday back home in Uncasville.

  "The biggest thing is you don't have to sit and think about it for a week," veteran All-Star Lindsay Whalen said about the prospect of being 0-2 and then taking a long break before the Sun play their next game. "Now you're 1-1 and it's a win, it's something to build on, it's a positive thing to take into practice.

 "Wins like this are great when you don't shoot the ball well, you think like you didn't play great, but those are the kind of wins you can put into your back pocket and have later on down the road."

 Whalen had a double double with game highs of 14 points and 12 rebounds, while Erin Phillips had 13 points, Tamika Whitmore scored 11, and Asjha Jones had 10 points.

 New York's Shameka Christon had 13 points, while Janel McCarville scored 10.

   As for newcomers, former Duke star Chante Black was scoreless for the Sun, while former Rutgers star Kia Vaughn, making her pro and hiometown debut, was also scoreless, although she did grabbed three rebounds in 14 minutes, 11 seconds of playing time.

   Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie was in the house -- "My one chance to see her."

   Connecticut won despite shooting 35.7 percent for the game, although New York was worse at 32.1 percent.

   The Sun thrived on the backboards with a 47-33 rebounding advantage.

    "Our rebounding was huge," said Thibault, who last summer was an Olympic assistant to New York assistant Anne Donovan on the gold medal-winning USA Basketball team in Beijing, China.

    "We made their three-point shooters have to rush," he said about New York's paltry 4-for-24 effort from beyond the arc. "We tried to speed them up from their rhythm of the game."

   One bomber who did penetrate the Sun defense was Leilani Mitchell who connected with a spectacular 55-foot trey as time expired to send the Liberty into the lockerroom at the break with a 32-30 lead before being smothered by Connecticut in the next quarter.

  "I was surprised if you saw my face," the former Utah star said about her guided missile. "I just threw it and I didn't think it would go in."

  New York coach Pat Coyle also addressed the long-range deficiency in her postgame remarks as well as the rebounding situation.

  "We were three-point shot happy," Coyle said. "We have to do something differently.

  "I am disappointed in the rebounding effort," she continued. "We have to put a body on somebody and there's no ifs ands or buts about it. Today we got outereboundedf by 14. That's can happen," Coyle said.

  "If you look at the game, Connecticut came off a loss so they played with a sense of urgency. That's what leaders do. They step up and don't allow their team to lose."

  Coyle spoke of letting one get away at home.

  "The league is better," she said. "Every team in this league became better. The parity is unbelievable. You have to win at home. That is the bottom line."

    Jump shots: Could Tulsa, Oklahoma, be somewhere in the WNBA's future. League president Donna Orender was seen after the game guiding a group aroumd, several of which were once part of the previous ownership group of the Seattle Storm which Donovan coached to the 2004 WNBA title.

   For all the talk about the new deals that have advertising on the jerseys of the Phoenix Mercury and the Los Angeles Sparks -- considered a first under a new team-level marketing initiative by the WNBA -- it must be noted that the Sun name so stemmed from the Mohegan Sun Casino ownership group when the Mohegan Tribe became the first non-NBA organization to become involved with a WNBA franchise.

  -- Mel 

Mel Greenberg Inquirer Sports Columnist
About this blog
Mel Greenberg covers college and pro women’s basketball for the Philadelphia Inquirer, where he has worked for 38 years. Greenberg pioneered national coverage of the game, including the original Top 25 women's college poll. His knowledge has earned him nicknames such as "The Guru" and "The Godfather. He was inducted into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007.



Click here for Mel's list of All-Decade players from Philadelphia-area schools.

Other contributors

Jonathan Tannenwald is a producer with Philly.com. In addition to covering the local college scene, he spent two years as the Washington Mystics beat writer for Women's Hoops Guru. He also writes his own blog, Soft Pretzel Logic, which covers men's college basketball, football, and other sports.

Kathleen Radebaugh is a recent graduate of St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia. She covered women's basketball for the school's newspaper, The Hawk, and served as sports editor her sophomore year. She was also a four-year member of the varsity crew team.

Erin Semagin Damio covers the University of Connecticut and the WNBA's Connecticut Sun for the blog, and contributes other features. The Storrs, Conn., native also attends Northeastern University, where she is a coxswain on the varsity crew team.

Acacia O'Connor is based in Washington, D.C., where she reports on the Mystics and the college basketball scene in the nation's capital. A graduate of Vassar college, she played on the varsity women's basketball team and was editor of the student newspaper.

Click on any of the contributors' names above to e-mail them.

Reach Mel at poll416@gmail.com.

Mel Greenberg Inquirer Sports Columnist
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