Friday, August 25, 2006

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.


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