Hightower's defense and versatility have been key for the Sun

Mohegan - The versatile Allison Hightower would've liked to have tried dancing had WNBA thing not worked out for her.

"Oh, I can get down," Hightower said. "Any dance. No choreography, though. Not 1-2-3 step, none of that. Just freestyling.

"If you turn some music on, I'm most likely the one dancing."

Hightower has made herself into one of the Connecticut Sun's most valuable players thanks to her talent and relentless work ethic. She was an off-guard when Connecticut drafted her in the second round (15th overall) of the 2010 WNBA Draft. She developed herself into a very capable point guard, a position she never played. She was an All-Star last season, too.

Hightower has also been one of the Sun's toughest defenders and will get a workout the next two days. Connecticut plays host to Diana Taurasi and the ridiculously-stacked Phoenix Mercury tonight at Mohegan Sun Arena (7 p.m.)

The Sun play at the New York Liberty on Friday night. Hightower will be asked to defend Liberty star Cappie Pondexter.

It's all those skills that made resigning Hightower one of the Connecticut's top priorities this past offseason.

"Absolutely huge," Sun coach Anne Donovan said. "Ali, give her credit, she became a WNBA all-star because of her work ethic and her own confidence developed. She is a key for us, and as we move forward, she and KT (guard Katie Douglas) from the outside is a great combination. You have Ali, who's so quick and so quick off the dribble, and KT, who is such a great shooter. It just gives us a nice combination; different styles at the wings. She's really important to what we're going to do moving forward."

Hightower and Douglas have struggled offensively through nine games. Hightower is shooting 39-percent, Douglas 30-percent.

"She had a great practice today (Tuesday) and was drilling, so it was nice to see her kind of loosen up today," Donovan said. "There's been a little bit of a drop in her production offensively and we're missing that, but I think that's all part of this learning how to play with new personnel this year. I know that both her and KT are going to get comfortable and start to hit the shots that we're all used to seeing them hit."

Hightower believes her shooting issues are all hers and not a function of playing with four new starters.

"I know that my shot has been very inconsistent and I know about that, but it'll fall," Hightower said. "If I just keep working on it and make some adjustments, then I think that it'll fall for me."

Ogwumikes start fundraiser

• Connecticut rookie Chiney Ogwumike and her sister, Nneka, of the Los Angeles Sparks have started a fundraiser to support UNICEF programs to help one million girls in their native Nigeria. The fundraiser will be a competition open to the nation's girls' middle and high school basketball teams, and the team that signs the most donors will win a private clinic with the Ogwumikes. Anyone interested can visit www.crowdrise.com/nnekaandchiney.


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