Leah Secondo Diary # 2
June 25-June 28: Wow! It has been an incredible weekend. I thought that the two-game series with the Detroit Shock would be a simulation of a possible 2004 Playoff scenario and it was all that and more!
I knew it was an important night when the game faces prior to tip-off were a little more intense than normal. The Sun players knew that one way or another come September the playoff chase will go through the Motor City. So, no better place to break the Shock’s seven game spell but during a regular season game…here and now!
Connecticut struggled in the first half shooting 35% forcing some shoots, while not being completely passionate on offense. The stayed close in the early going thanks to better than average rebounding where the Sun out rebounded the Shock 21-13.
There were 15 lead changes in the game, with this one going into overtime to be decided. The Sun would not be denied a sixth consecutive OT game thanks much in part to Nykesha Sales. For the third straight game, Sales carried the team like the veteran that we all know she is capable of being night-in and night-out. Keesh pumped in 22 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, making seven of eight free throws in the contest. Asjha Jones looks more comfortable in Coach Thibault’s system, scoring 14 off the bench. She and Keesh did a great job holding Swin Cash to just four points in the final 25 minutes of the game. This was after Cash had unleashed for 18 in the first half of the game. Taj McWilliams-Franklin was also very influential clogging up the post on defense, grabbed 10 rebounds and added 12 points. Lindsay Whalen had a career high 10 of the Sun’s 22 total assists. Connecticut defeats Detroit 71-67.
Afterwards, Detroit Head Coach Bill Laimbeer tried to put a spin on the Connecticut victory by saying that his team was without its best post player in Cheryl Ford and that the Sun acted as if they had just won the national championship with the win.
I watched the game again in the bus on the 2-hour ride from the airport to the hotel, which I will get to in a moment, and there was not any celebration by the Sun to imply that a ticker tape parade was around the corner. The players treated it like any other game going through the line, shaking hands and heading off the court.
Wrong spin on that one Bill! You got beat by a team that outplayed you in the end and that is the simple fact.
Now moving on to Saturday’s plane ride which was uneventful…however, the bus ride that was suppose to take 40 minutes turned into a two hour tour. The bus driver did not know where he was going, so we got the two-cent tour of Detroit. It got old quick, especially when he got on the cell phone to get directions and we nearly rear ended a car. It reminded me of being a kid on a family trip when Dad had no clue where we were and no one would dare ask. When the bus came to the hotel on Sunday morning to take us to shoot around we thankfully had a different bus driver.
Cheryl Ford would play on Sunday, returning from a three-game hiatus due to the death of her grandfather. I’m glad she was back to legitimize the Sun’s efforts, being able to put away the Champions twice in 48 hours.
The Sun exploded on a 28-8 run in the second half to take a 51-47 lead, before the Shock came back with a 9-0 run, Swin Cash with six of those points making it 70-69 Detroit. Nykesha Sales hit a three-pointer making it 72-70 and then semi-blocked a ball and broke to the offensive end of the floor to retrieve a pass from Taj McWilliams Franklin for an easy lay-up as Connecticut held on for a 74-72 victory.
Lindsay Whalen had the crowd ooowing and aaaahing on several of her franchise high 13 assists. The one that comes to mind is a behind the back pass to a breaking Wendy Palmer in the lane for a lay-up. Afterwards, Lindsay told me that she knows she can’t do that all the time otherwise she would find a seat on the bench but she knew it was a great spot to do it in that situation. What a beauty for the highlight reel!
Keesh without a doubt is my selection for WNBA Player of the Week. Incredible numbers during the four-game win streak, including key baskets, steals and free throws; not to mention that she was matched up defensively against Chamique Holdsclaw, Tamika Catchings, and Swin Cash (twice).
The Sun had five players score in double figures for the first time this season. It makes it awfully tough for an opponent to key on one star when there are five-unselfish players on the court.
The Sun have momentum on their side and worked so hard to get to this point, hopefully it’s just the start of more positives to come.
Until Wednesday, ciao!