Mims playing a key reserve role for Sun

Newcomer Mistie Mims has played a major role in Connecticut's 6-1 start this season as a valuable frontcourt reserve. The Sun play host to the Los Angeles Sparks tonight at 8 at Mohegan Sun Arena.
Newcomer Mistie Mims has played a major role in Connecticut's 6-1 start this season as a valuable frontcourt reserve. The Sun play host to the Los Angeles Sparks tonight at 8 at Mohegan Sun Arena. Sean D. Elliot/The Day Buy Photo

Mohegan - Unofficially, her stream of consciousness lasted 47 seconds. Impressive for any athlete, really. But to think Mistie Mims nearly went breathless Tuesday gushing about her enjoyment of … setting a good screen.

An excerpt:

" … If I can set this screen, Kara (Lawson) is going to be open. If she gets it off … it's in!" Mims was saying. "If I can screen to get Tina open, or maybe I can get her a little more space, that gets me excited. My job is the intangibles.

"I know fans want to see the LeBrons and Tinas," she said. "But those big plays come from little things. That's why people loved Dennis Rodman. He did little things to create the scoring. I'm happy doing my job. We're winning."

And Mims is a major reason.

The Sun's primary offseason free agent signee didn't provide much of a splash around the WNBA. It made Sun coach Mike Thibault chuckle. He saw a quote from football Giants general manager Jerry Reese, whose response to offseason clamor to sign sexy free agents was to "sign a punter and a tackle" en route to the Super Bowl.

Mistie Mims, "punter" for the Connecticut Sun.

"You need little things to win championships and get your team better," Thibault said Tuesday, after preparing his Eastern Conference leaders for tonight's showdown with West leader Los Angeles at Mohegan Sun Arena (8 p.m., ESPN2). "Fans like your team to be a fantasy league team. In reality, it's not the stats necessarily of players seven through 11. You rely on them understanding what they need to do to help a team win."

Mims' story rarely gets told beyond being the daughter of Ernest Evans, otherwise known as Chubby Checker. But she's so much more. She's a graduate of Duke. She's played professionally for six years. But she admitted Tuesday she didn't necessarily plan on returning to the WNBA.

"I don't want that to sound like I deserve something. It was more about going to a program that understands what I can bring," she said. "Coach Thibault told me I'd be playing behind two Olympians (Tina Charles and Asjha Jones) and asked whether I could be a leader in practice that a young team needs to see. I was more than willing. It's a great bunch of girls. They took me in."

Mims joins Jones and Kara Lawson in illustrating how if you want to see daily professionalism, just look at what they happen to be doing.

"She makes everybody better just with her work ethic," Charles said. "She posts up hard. She takes no possessions off. Every time we come to a timeout, she gives me a tip. She's relentless on the boards. She gives us that extra edge."

Then Charles grinned and said, "plus, she's usually looking like she's going to get a flagrant. I love it."

Mims made 10 of 11 shots from the field this past weekend as the Sun defeated Indiana and Atlanta. She averages 6.6 points and 3.7 rebounds in 14.7 minutes.

"She knows how to play with Asjha and Tina and what entails doing the dirty work," Thibault said. "Set a good screen, be a good offensive rebounder. Do all the things the average fan doesn't see. She gets it. She's a positive all the time. That's what teams need to win championships."

Mims and the Sun frontcourt have a busy night ahead. The Sparks (6-1) have Olympian Candace Parker, Rookie of the Year candidate Nneka Ogwumike, veteran Ebony Hoffman and former Ohio State great Jantel Lavender, among others.

Just another night, though, in the pros. For a real pro.

"It's good when a player understands who they are. I've become confident in who I am," Mims said. "Get a block, play great 'D,' set a screen, get an offensive rebound. It helps that they're so positive as a coaching staff. That's something I'm not used to. And the crowd here is awesome."

m.dimauro@theday.com

Connecticut's Mistie Mims (8) shoots over Atlanta's Sancho Lyttle during Sunday's WNBA game at Mohegan Sun Arena. The Sun host Los Angeles tonight.
Connecticut's Mistie Mims (8) shoots over Atlanta's Sancho Lyttle during Sunday's WNBA game at Mohegan Sun Arena. The Sun host Los Angeles tonight. Sean D. elliot/The Day Buy Photo
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