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"It's a shared group — the replacement for Lindsay Whalen"


Connecticut coach Mike Thibault talked a bit Wednesday about Tina Charles and Renee Montgomery, the duo the team acquired from Minnesota after an offseason trade for Lindsay Whalen and the second overall pick in the draft.

Those of you paying attention know that DJ Whay returns to Neon Uncasville tonight to play her former team.

Thibault was asked about what he's seen from Charles and Montgomery since training camp opened back on April 26.

"I don't ask Renee to be Lindsay," Thibault said. "I ask her to be the good Renee. A lot of that, on this team, is facilitating everyone else. Making sure we're running our offense well. Making sure she's getting the ball to the right people. Pushing the tempo. Putting some defensive pressure on the other team."

Montgomery has averaged 27 minutes, 6.3 points, three assists and 1.67 steals in Conn's first three games. She and Kara Lawson (29.7 minutes, 10.3 points, 2.3 assists) have shared the point guard duties.

"I'm not asking her to be our leading scorer," Thibault said. "Lindsay, on our team the last couple of years, had to be one of our top scorers in order to be successful. Renee doesn't have to do the same thing because we're developing some other people."

Charles, UConn's all-time leading scorer and rebounder, has averaged a team-high 16.3 points and 9.7 rebounds for El Sol (® Bob Heussler).

"Obviously, our post game is evolving to be potentially the best we've ever had," Thibault said. "It's not there yet, but it's getting there. Tina clearly has established herself as one of the best young centers in the game; somebody we can build around on our frontline. Our players like playing with her. She's, for lack of a better way of saying it, a willing post player in the sense that a lot of young post players today don't like the pounding inside, don't like the double teams. And, so, they go along and create themselves into this outside post-up player. She likes being down there. She knows she can score around the basket. She knows she can finish. She knows she can rebound and is content to have that be her identity.

"(Charles and Montgomery) have been what we've asked them to be. They'll get better at it. Renee, as she's around me more, will learn the things that Lindsay learned about what I think, what I see. She and I talk each week about things that we're trying to get better at and she's upbeat doing it.

"It's a shared group — the replacement for Lindsay Whalen. … The replacement is a post player (Charles). The replacement is a couple of guards (Lawson and Montgomery). We're developing a new identity as a team. We're going to be a different kind of team."

Vaya con dios.

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