A little urgency can go a long way
It wasn't a full scale nutty. There were no projectiles flying. No chairs were kicked. Bob Knight would have graded Anne Donovan out to a C-minus, most likely, under the category of going volcanic. But this was Thursday at practice:
"Are you tired? Are you tired?" Donovan said, decibel levels rising with each syllable. "Because I'm tired watching everybody get bleeping layups against us!"
Donovan, normally calmer than a lagoon, was irritated with her post players during a defensive drill. This was a little more than 24 hours before Friday night's tip at Mohegan Sun Arena for the winless Sun.
Tough word, winless. And now it is past tense. The Sun have officially won one in a row after the 71-59 victory over Seattle, sending 6,573 folks home happy. By the way: a summary of the post players' contribution:
Chiney Ogwumike: 18 points, seven rebounds.
Kelsey Bone: 13 points, eight rebounds.
Kelsey Griffin: six points, nine rebounds.
Hence, the question: Is there a cause and effect between Donovan going boom and the post players' dominance?
"I don't think so," Donovan said.
"The motivation for me is that we needed that win," Griffin said. "Everyone in our locker room knew it. I just really wanted the W tonight and I was prepared to do whatever I could to get it."
Ogwumike wasn't sure either, although she was asked if college coach Tara VanDerveer at Stanford ever unloaded with ferocity. "Please," Ogwumike said. "The funny thing is that Tara has wispy hair and when she goes off, her hair goes everywhere."
So there you have it. No cause and effect. So much for the theory. It was the urgency of the game, they said. Now the Sun are challenged to remain urgent. It's doubtful Mount Donovan will become Old Faithful.
"I can only do so much yapping," team leader Katie Douglas said. "We definitely need our head general to get pissed off. We need to play pissed off, angry and determined. Anne set the tone. I don't think anybody was taken aback. We need it. They were scoring at will against us (Thursday in practice). That's what happens when we don't play with more pissed off-ness. If that's a word."
Donovan: "I don't get to that point very often. It's the first time they've heard that. It makes me feel better knowing they got the point. You guys as parents, sometimes that's the only way to get the point across."
It was a night for a group exhale. See? The young players are getting there. They can make a shot now and then. Bone was magnificent. Ogwumike is the real deal. Alyssa Thomas quietly looks as though she might be great one day, too. Smiles all around.
The night's only controversy: Had Kelly Faris not played some mop up minutes, this would have been the first game since the franchise moved to Connecticut that a former UConn player didn't play a single minute for the Sun.
Renee Montgomery, for instance, didn't play at all.
"We're still figuring out our rotations," Donovan said after the game.
It should be noted that Montgomery spoke her mind Friday, telling The Day that she didn't know the path to more playing time. Then she didn't play at all Friday. Sure hope there was no cause and effect there, either. Because this is about winning games. Not proving points. And I maintain the Sun would be a better team with Montgomery making shots from the perimeter.
That, however, is a rant for a later date. The Sun showed why they're worth watching Friday night. Lots of young players who are finding a light for their way, one possession at a time.
"I can't say there won't be ups and downs as we move forward, but that's the team that comes to practice every day," Donovan said. "This team has so much heart and so much tenacity."
This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro.
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