Saturday, April 29, 2006

Cuts Add Up

Sorry for the late posting. I was out covering boxing at Mohegan Sun, and by the way, I learned that seeing two guys exchange vicious blows in person is a lot different than on TV.
Anywho …
This may sound strange, but you have to chalk up the Sun’s early wave of cuts to good coaching and scouting in many ways.
Two of the three players waived from camp thus far were drafted this year. Since Connecticut didn’t have a first-round pick that means no one remains from the draft of less than a month ago.
How is that possible you ask? It is a credit to the homework done by Mike Thibault and his staff.
First off, this team is going to be good regardless of who fills in those final spots. At the same time, the players who survive the last batch of cuts could help be the difference between celebrating a third straight Eastern Conference title or the franchise’s first WNBA title.
Whether it be by scouting internationally, making the right free agent signings or scouring the ranks of lesser-known leagues for a hidden gem, the Sun have obviously established a system that works. The draft is a great tool — particularly if you’re not making you first pick with the second round’s last selection, which was the Sun’s case this year — but Connecticut is proving it’s not the only one.
As for Debbie Merrill, the most recent player to be released, no one can say this is a big surprise.
Teams are only allowed 11 active players when the season starts, plus one or two more on injured reserve. (With its payroll, the Sun will probably have a total of 12.) With that in mind, consider the group of players the 6-foot-1 Merrill, who can only play as a four or five, had to deal with.
Margo Dydek and Taj McWilliams-Franklin are virtual locks for the two starting post positions, while Donna Loffhagen was a free-agent signing after two years of effort by the Sun to bring in one of New Zealand’s top players. Add to that mix Laura Summerton, Le’Coe Willingham and Jessica Brungo, who were each reserves last season, and suddenly there isn’t much room for a first-year player out of school who wasn’t going to be a real difference maker.
If anything, it might prove to be a blessing for Merrill. Maybe Connecticut wasn’t the right fit, but that doesn’t mean someplace else won’t be. At least she might have a second chance by being cut now as compared to a week or so down the road.


Post a Comment

<< Home