Sun's Donovan has every right to lose her sunny disposition
Mohegan - Anne Donovan conveyed annoyance after games few times last season. It's almost like she was resolved to a summer of discontent with Tina And The Miserables. All of which made her distaste for her team's effort Tuesday a welcome sight.
Donovan knows this it's different now. There is potential here. There is an avenue to the postseason, what with the struggles of virtually everybody else in the conference. And losing the way the Sun did Tuesday, compounding some confounding missed shots with general malaise - on their home floor - hearkens a word Donovan used to describe the basket Jayne Appel scored to give San Antonio the lead for good: inexcusable.
It sure doesn't feel like it was but six days ago the Sun had won their sixth straight game. Time's brief passage and sports' uncanny ability to humble have the Sun in a three-game skid now, following a 74-71 loss to San Antonio.
"She has every right to be annoyed. I'm annoyed," Sun veteran Katie Douglas said.
Among Donovan's postgame observations:
• "We gave Appel a layup (with the game tied late) that was just inexcusable. We had a nice run going and let he walk in there and score like she wasn't a pro player. We did not play like a team that just had to have that win. I'm not sure why that is."
• "I don't see the team that scrapped and clawed and hustled. Every 50-50 ball was ours during that winning streak. I haven't seen that in the last three games."
• "Eleven missed layups in the first half are tough to overcome. And at the same time you overcome it. You don't get lax on defense. The (28) points San Antonio scored in the third quarter were a product of us thinking about missed layups and missed shots and us being completely complacent defensively."
• "I can live, like I lived with 2-6 because were scrapping and clawing and fighting on every possession. I haven't seen that mentality."
The Sun, as currently constructed, are like a baseball team that can't hit. All other aspects must be sound, because offense is a perpetual issue. Other teams in the WNBA could have overcome the Stars' 28-point third quarter by matching baskets. That generally drives coaches to the Jack Daniel's. But it's nice to have that option. Connecticut does not.
You'll note the Sun's best win of the season, a one-pointer over ludicrously talented Phoenix, came because they made 10 of 13 3s. That was an aberration. This team isn't gifted with great offensive players. That's why Donovan used the words "scrapping" and "clawing." Her team doesn't have a choice.
And so when they turn it over 20 times and let Becky Hammon make them all in the third period, they're likely to lose. It's difficult, too, when Alex Bentley, who has been so promising, had a 4-for-14 night. That's when Renee Montgomery must complement her. Instead, Montgomery went 2-for-9 and committed two dreadful turnovers in the second half, plays that justify why Donovan doesn't start her in the first place.
"I'll have the troops ready Thursday," Douglas said.
Douglas is like the lone voice in the wilderness in a mostly green locker room. She knows the WNBA and its unkind schedule - a game every other day - leaves little time to do anything else but move on to the next game. The Sun are off today before Tulsa is here Thursday. Tulsa: Young legs. Skylar Diggins playing great. Not such great defense. An opportunity for the Sun to do what they do best: Run.
After that, lots of road games. And not much rest. And nobody feeling sorry for them.
The good news: It's a good locker room. There's no pouting, finger pointing or blame assessment. The Sun are a team of the future, no doubt. But injuries and other circumstances have given them an opportunity in the present, too. But not if they duplicate Tuesday night.
This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro.
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