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Sun have a reason to rejoice

Note to Chiney Ogwumike: Uncasville, Conn. is lovely this time of year. Pastoral beauty. Snow-covered trees. Wafts of nachos from the Brown Derby. The blueberry pancakes from Ed's.

Sorry. Lost my head. Way ahead of ourselves here. No lock that Ogwumike, the forward from Stanford only averaging 26 points and 11.5 rebounds per game, will be the Connecticut Sun's selection as the No. 1 pick in the WNBA Draft.

But a guy can dream, can't he?

I love Stanford kids. They actually go to class. They speak in complete sentences. Never forget the day before the 2010 national championship game talking to guard J.J. Hones, who was reading Vonnegut's "Breakfast of Champions" before reporters walked over. Guard Melanie Murphy listed her favorite hobby as "investing in stocks" in the media guide. (Half the men's players across the country would probably say "putting on socks").

During one news conference a few years earlier, Candice Wiggins used the word "dichotomy." Late, great Connecticut columnist Randy Smith interrupted her and said, "did you just say 'dichotomy?'"

Wiggins: "Yes."

Smith: "Thank you."

And so you'll pardon the gushing here at the thought that a Stanfordian might be coming here. And she can play, too. She'll be a great help to Tina Charles, provided Tina comes back. Might be nice for Tina to come out and say, "I'm coming back." Because until she does, presumption and speculation fill in the blanks.

But that's a rant for another day. This is a day to honor a historic day for Neon Uncasville. The first pick in the draft and a plan approved for the Mohegans to move forward with a $1 billion resort casino in Revere, Mass. No word whether Mitchell Etess broke into song on the way home from the lottery in Secaucus, N.J.

Somehow, it just fit that "Revere" was part of this day. Can't you just see Paul back up on his horse yelling, "Baccarat is coming!" Chiney is coming!" One if by land! Two if by sea! And I on the opposite side of the craps table will be!"

Nice to see Etess so happy. Really good guy. And he's taken his share of criticism for firing Mike Thibault. At some point, though, we all move on.

"Overall, it was a pretty good day," Etess was saying later Tuesday, not long after being interviewed on ESPN with a grin that could have lit up the Casino of the Wind.

This was the day the Connecticut Sun rediscovered their relevance. The fans are excited. Many took to social media and sustained an exclamation point disorder. Their team finally got a bounce Tuesday, winning the draft lottery.

Management is never going to come out and say it's Ogwumike. Besides, Alyssa Thomas, the kid from Maryland, fills the void at small forward that's been here since what feels like right before Archie told the Meathead to get out of his chair. Thomas had a triple-double the other night. But from a purely selfish lot, I want Chiney.

She'll help immeasurably. Plus, the mere thought of owning the No. 1 pick makes some of those long nights from last season slightly more palatable. And reenergizes the fan base. And provides a positive starting point for "getting us back to the playoffs," as vice president and general manager Chris Sienko said Tuesday.

There's work to be done. Kara Lawson isn't coming back. That means they better find someone who can make a shot beyond 10 feet. Sandrine Gruda doesn't want to be here. Note to Sandrine: Don't let the doorknob leave a lasting impression. No idea about several others. You might all need your programs for the first game. Or you might not. Lots of variables and scenarios.

But the Sun's biggest victory in a long time came on some nothing Tuesday in the late afternoon with the snow falling here. There will come nights this summer that the No. 1 pick wins a game - or seven - for the Sun. And we can connect the dots to Tuesday, lottery day.

This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro.


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