Published May 11. 2012 4:00AM
Mohegan - The Connecticut Sun of 2012 have yet to accomplish anything, other than to illustrate that sometimes in sports, not all problems are burdensome.
Take, for example, coach Mike Thibault's mission in the next week: Pare his roster to 11 players for the season opener May 19 at New York. Put it this way: Thibault's cuts may find themselves on other WNBA rosters, evidence of some talented players who may not make it here.
"Very competitive for the last two spots," he said.
The Sun lost to defending WNBA champion Minnesota 87-85 Thursday night at Mohegan Sun Arena, an evening in which five U.S. Olympians contributed to a mostly entertaining preseason game. At the end, the Sun and Lynx, two teams expected to contend in their conferences, played a number of rookies, hopefuls and free agents, not all of whom will be around late next week.
Thibault was asked after the game if the picture was any clearer. He issued a wry grin.
"I'll give you the NFL answer," he said. "I'll have to watch the tape."
Connecticut rookies Chay Shegog and Dawn Evans joined Kelsey Griffin, Sidney Spencer and Danielle McCray for much of the fourth period. Thibault, who must cut two players, might consider his cuts among Evans, Shegog and Spencer, although the coach gave an "I have no idea" a few times Thursday.
Guard Allison Hightower, who has missed much of the preseason with a shoulder injury, might have been looking over that same shoulder, wondering about her future here. Until Thursday night. Hightower, among the Sun's best players in the playoffs last season, turned Thursday into an extension of last postseason.
Hightower scored nine points in 16 minutes.
"I wasn't nervous and I usually am," Hightower said. "In the offseason, I worked as hard as I could."
Thibault said, "her length defensively changes the way we play certain players. She was really good for not having practiced much."
The Sun played without U.S. Olympic center Tina Charles (groin) and guard Tan White, who took a hard fall in Monday's game with New York. Thibault said both are expected back next week. Charles leaves today for Seattle, site of a brief Olympic gathering. The U.S. will play China on Saturday at Key Arena. Charles will join the Sun next week for their preseason game in Washington on Wednesday.
Kara Lawson led Connecticut with 19 points. Mistie Mims added 12 and six rebounds. Seimone Augustus led the Lynx with 12 points and Rebekkah Brunson had 11.
Former Sun guard Lindsay Whalen had four points and five rebounds and former UConn great Maya Moore, who will join Charles, Asjha Jones, Whalen and Augustus in Seattle, had six points in 19 minutes.
Connecticut's home opener is May 20 at 5 p.m. versus New York.