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New look produces two wins

Mohegan - The sounds of the place told the best story. The sounds of impatience. And to think the Connecticut Sun never relinquished the lead in the fourth quarter Sunday.

That didn't make it any more palatable at times for 7,075 customers, who watched the Sun's offense late in the fourth period morph into the following:

Renee Montgomery dribble.

Renee Montgomery dribble.

Renee Montgomery dribble.

More Renee Montgomery dribbles.

Look for Tina Charles.

Wait for Tina Charles.

Renee Montgomery dribble.

The shot clock, meanwhile, marched on.

Renee still dribbled. And waited.

The fans gasped, as if they'd all jumped from a plane and it was Montgomery's job to pull the rip cord.

Turned out that it was all by design.

"Sometimes," Sun coach Mike Thibault said, "you're not necessarily looking to make a bunch of passes. There are nights you need your point guard to do what Renee did."

Thibault explained that Montgomery was supposed to wait for Indiana to run a bigger player at her and give Charles and Asjha Jones more room.

It ended happily enough for the Sun, who remained unbeaten at home Sunday with a 76-71 win over Indiana, the toughest out in the conference, maybe the league right now. The Fever have two magnificent players in Katie Douglas and Tamika Catchings: cagey, smart, tough, veterans of the WNBA. They are Indiana's conscience. They are the very best of this league.

The last two games have produced the season's two best wins, if for no other reason than circumstances. The Sun needed a road win desperately at New York on Friday. They needed to (finally) show Indiana they have a pulse. In two games, the Sun held Cappie Pondexter, Nicole Powell, Douglas and Catchings to 21-for-50 shooting from the floor.

And they did so with a different lineup, a new lineup, a younger lineup. Danielle McCray, who had 22 points on Sunday, has played two straight promising games. Kalana Greene has guarded Pondexter, Douglas and Catchings quite well.

"That's a different team that we played (last Wednesday at Indiana)," Catchings said. "Much more aggressive."

We are seeing the future here, folks. This weekend is Chapter One. More McCray, more Greene. Late-game offense that features, almost solely, Montgomery and Charles.

Now for the rest of the story.

This much we know: Not everyone in the Sun locker room is happy at the moment.

Not everyone is comfortable with the perception that Montgomery looks for Charles a little too much.

Not everyone is happy with playing time, or lack thereof, in the last two games.

And yet the team has won.

Looked pretty good doing so, too.

Which makes it all the more fascinating.

Thibault is paid to win games. He would like to continue to be paid. For that, the Sun better make the playoffs. So when he finds a rotation that works, not to mention tames the Cappies and Katies of the league, he'd be a fool to deviate. McCray and Greene deserve to be out there. So, too, does Jessica Moore over DeMya Walker. Moore's hustle down the floor Sunday led to a huge layup in the fourth quarter, a play of simple want-to.

Lest we forget, too, that this is professional basketball. It's not a democracy.

And yet it's pretty clear that while Montgomery and Charles have been clutch in the fourth quarter all season, there are three other players out there at all times. One of them is Jones, among the most unflappable, professional and trustworthy players in the league. Montgomery isn't necessarily wrong to prefer passing the ball to Charles, who she trusts and with whom she won a college championship. But Jones, Kara Lawson and Tan White, among others, aren't decorations. This could be a very hard to guard team down the road.

The Sun get a day of rest before they play New York here Tuesday. Can't wait to see how the Liberty adjust to Greene and McCray. If they don't, Connecticut will be 9-5 with a week off, looking pretty darn good, all things considered.

This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro.


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