Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Moving On

It's hard to believe the WNBA Finals start tonight and the Sun won't be playing.
Another season of promise turned into one of disappointment, with players and coaches left scratching their heads over what it will take to get over this hurdle. The Sun actually backtracked this season after winning two straight conference titles.
As for a winner, I like Detroit over Sacramento. The physically-imposing Shock players are a tough match for any team.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Cool As A Cucumber

Game 3. What Game 3?
That might have been the impression you received by the mood among the Sun's players after their Sunday morning shootaround. Connecticut, one day removed from staving off elimination, seeks its third consecutive trip to the WNBA Finals tonight at home against Detroit.
The players looked more than comfortable about eight hours before tonight's tip, chatting and laughing as their session came to a close.
"It'’s not rocket science," coach Mike Thibault said. "We've just got to go play basketball. We'’ll see what happens."
Although Thibault and some of his players tried to dismiss the notion of momentum after securing the Game 2 win, it certainly can't hurt the Sun with the turnaround to this decisive game coming with little rest for either side. Playing at home should also be an advantage, but early signs as of last night made it seem like the crowd's size was still below an acceptable number. It'll be something else to keep an eye on.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

The Stuff of Legends?

A matter of minutes after my last posting, Katie Douglas took the court at roughly 2:55 for some shooting.
She began similar to Thursday night only shooting with her hands and not jumping. The difference was, she was elevating on her toes as opposed to remaining flat-footed.
She then progress into short jumpers before playing some half-speed defense against teammate Jamie Carey. Mike Thibault watched intently and Douglas also did one half-sprint from sideline to sideline.
Douglas eventually returned to full shooting, which included waves of 3-pointers from different spots on the court. If I had to guess, I’d say she plays and possibly starts today.

Waiting for KT

We're approaching an hour until game time and still no sign of Katie Douglas on the court for shooting. Her status is still unknown after a glimmer of hope came through when she shot pre-game Thursday in Detroit.
In other news, injured forward Brooke Queenan, who didn't even make the trip for Game 1, worked out beforehand. Suffering from a sprained right ankle, the rookie, who is on the playoff inactive list as a result of limited playing time during the season, said today was the first day she's been able to jump when shooting.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Try, Try ... And Try Some More

Here's a tip for all you aspiring sports writers out there.
It's been my experience that making yourself available at all times is the only way to be assured of getting the desired interview and story. With that in mind, I never turn my cell phone off and tend to schedule interviews based around the subject's schedule and not mine.
The only time this philosophy becomes an issue is when I'm on a plane, where cell phones can't stay on.
That was the case today, as I got into a little game of phone tag with Indianapolis-based orthopedic surgeon Dr. David. A. Porter, who spent part of Thursday examining the Sun's Katie Douglas. Luckily, we finally got a hold of each other and he was very helpful in providing some new information in what seems like a story that takes a new turn every day.
I feel like I'm on KT watch and we're up to Day 6.
I don't want to give away the insight from Porter —— you'll have to wait until the paper for that —— but I promise it'll make for an interesting read.

The Unknown

As I’m sitting here in Detroit Metro Airport waiting for my flight and getting some advance work done for articles set to run in Saturday’s paper, I’m left wondering what it’s going to take for the Sun to win a game in the Eastern Conference finals.
Connecticut looked to be missing Katie Douglas more than anyone might have expected last night, playing as if they were trying not to lose — the curse of death in sport’s circles — after building an early 14-point lead. In a game that felt tense from courtside, the Sun made things even more dramatic by turning many possessions into 24-second countdowns to destruction.
Outside of Erin Phillips and, at times, Lindsay Whalen, no one seemed willing to take big shots with the expectation of making them. The forwards each went through spells of being trigger-happy, but the attempts were so rushed they resulted in poor misses and fastbreak chances the other way. If that happens again, the next game won’t be until the 2007 preseason.
Add to that the uncertainty of whether Douglas might return for Game 2, which coach Mike Thibault had categorized as something “miraculous” on the eve of Game 1. Knowing KT, she won’t play unless she’s capable of truly contributing. My biggest concern would be the players being distracted by the possibility of her return and then playing through disappointment if Douglas isn’t able to go.

Only twice did the Sun sell out Mohegan Sun Arena for games during the regular season. If they don’t pack the house for Saturday’s win-or-the-season’s-over Game 2 — starting at a reasonable time for fans of all ages, 4 p.m. — I think the franchise should be very disappointed. Not only is the team playing the rival Detroit Shock and trying to reach its third straight WNBA Finals, knowing the game’s significance has to draw a crowd.
I’m going on record as saying there is no excuse for fans not to be there in person when the Sun return home.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Should I Feel Insulted?

Bill Laimbeer will never be confused for a charmer. At the same time, as the old saying goes, you have to talk some of his words with a grain of salt.
Known in his playing days as someone capable of getting under the opponent's skin, he has transitioned that some with how he now deals with the media. Working on a story on Detroit's Cheryl Ford, I went to team shootaround this morning to talk to her and assistant coach Rick Mahorn. As I approached Mahorn, who was sitting on the scorer's table next to Laimbeer, I introduced myself and said what paper I was from. Laimbeer then says to Mahorn, 'That's one of those Podunk papers.'
Fully expecting that response since Laimbeer has said that to other reporters from smaller-sized papers before, I responded with, 'I had a feeling you might say that.'
Truth be told, I didn't mind the comment because I don't think it was meant to be personally insulting. I think it's his way of ribbing the media a little -— myself and another the writer were also told twice to leave and comeback during the shootaround because Laimbeer didn't want anyone watching until league rules make it mandatory to be open - which I'd like to see more often from all coaches. You spend so much time with these players and coaches over the course of a season that if you can't crack a joke here or there it just makes everything feel way too uptight.
Besides, with his history, Laimbeer could have said a lot less flattering things if he actually wanted to insult me.

Thankfully, we have Lindsay Whalen to keep things relaxed on the Sun side. Although she can appear shy at first glance, once you get know Lindsay she is as funny as they come. She's great to talk to when you're chatting about non-basketball related subjects and is usually good for a quirky line or two along the way.
But sometimes I can't even figure out some of the little jokes she's playing. One can only imagine what kind of pranks she's capable of in the locker room.

Travel Day

Let me begin by saying, I am not a fan of flying. I know that's a problem in the profession I'm in, but I'll find a way to get over it.
(Although, it is funny to see people always look out the windows in unison as a plane approaches the ground.)
Sorry to be getting this update out so late, but the day became a bit longer than expected. By the way, I hope you check out my story and some of the others across the state tomorrow to get a take on what Bill Laimbeer was saying Wednesday at practice.
Who knows if what they said was really true, but the Shock could be in for something unexpected if they really think Katie Douglas is healthy enough to play.

As for some team updates, you can find more in my notebook running in the Friday paper - talk about planning ahead - Brooke Queenan did not travel with the team to Detroit and the ice on Asjha Jones' knee shouldn't be perceived as problematic.
More to come tomorrow, which begins early with team shootarounds and hopefully leads to some good notes to share with you guys.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

'You're My Best Friend'

At least Katie Douglas could laugh a little on an otherwise rough day. Meeting with reporters for the first time since learning her season is over, Douglas let her guard down when most of the media members walked away.
Apparently known for her love of movie quotes, Douglas showed off a few lines from a new favorite, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. As she waited for Lindsay Whalen to wrap things up and give her a ride home, Douglas referred to the team's point guard as, 'Cal,' the friend and racing teammate of Will Ferrell's character in the movie.
"You're my best friend," Douglas said in her impersonation of Ferrell's voice as Bobby.
For Douglas, aside from movie quotes, seeing some wins from the Sun will keep the star guard smiling.

Wrapping Things Up

With the Eastern Conference finals now just two days away from starting, here are some final thoughts on the Sun's first-round win over Washington.
After watching Game 2, it's hard not the believe a rivalry was born. The second game took on a much more physical feel than the opener, in part, because the officials lost control. The game featured one flagrant foul —— DeLisha Milton-Jones delivered a solid elbow to the head of Katie Douglas —— and a pair of technical fouls. Washington coach Richie Adubato was whistled for excessive complaining and Nykesha Sales got a tech midway through the first quarter.
The feistiness was probably a good thing for the Sun, who can expect an even more physical series in the upcoming round against rival Detroit. Winning ugly could also prove key since the loss of Douglas will certainly slow or limit the offense.

More than a half hour after Game 2 was complete, Alana Beard of the Mystics made her way out of Mohegan Sun Arena through the tunnel and walked by the Connecticut locker room. She gave Lindsay Whalen a hug and delivered a quick message. "Get it done, man," Beard said. "Third time's a charm."
Time will tell.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Wait And See

The news isn’t looking good on Katie Douglas, as some of the reporters have already began to speculate whatever her injury may be — a ruptured Achilles might not be a terrible guess, but who knows — will keep her out the remainder of this postseason.
She be examined examined and re-evaluated on Monday, but this seems to be another bit of bad luck in the playoffs after Lindsay Whalen went through knee and ankle problems last year leading up to the team’s second straight loss in the finals.
Seeing Douglas head into the tunnel putting no weight on her right foot was an unfortunate end to a very entertaining basketball game Sunday at Mohegan Sun Arena.

Trouble Brewing

The Connecticut Sun may be going to their fourth straight Eastern Conference finals, but Katie Douglas could be forced to miss some time.
After leaving late in Sunday's game with an apparent injury just below her right calf — which she injured late in the year and forced her to miss the regular season's final two games — Douglas has what's being called an unknown right foot injury. She's scheduled for x-rays and an MRI Monday and we're currently awaiting a comment from her and/or the team doctors.