Shooting not one of the Sun's talents, period

Mohegan - Maybe there are ways to make yourself a better shooter. Some coaches call it a fine motor skill. Some believe if your entire offseason is dedicated to it, you can return with better accuracy.

Except that it doesn't work that way in women's basketball.

There's no time for players to work on their skills. If they're not playing in the WNBA, they are playing overseas. There is money to be made. Hence, the rhythms of a season — games to be played and prepared for - supersede any drastic individual improvement.

This is another way of saying the offensive talents of the current Connecticut Sun players — and sorry to lapse into coach Belichick here — are what they are. Translation: not very good. They're abominable from the perimeter with the third-worst 3-point field goal percentage in the league (31 percent). They're abominable, period. Tied with Indiana for the worst field goal percentage (41) in the WNBA.

The clinking, clanking collection was on display again Thursday at Mohegan Sun Arena during a hideous 96-83 loss to Tulsa. On a three-game losing streak, playing a team with a 6-10 record at the time, the Sun began the game missing 18 of their first 23 shots, fell behind 12-0, recovered for a while and then played a fairly noncompetitive second half.

It was fairly evident as the game progressed that the Sun would have to win this game with offense. Because they couldn't guard anybody wearing a black uniform, including rookie Jordan Hooper, who only scored eight straight points on them to begin the fourth period. Odyssey Sims (30 points) fertilized them. Skylar Diggins (20 points) appears to be getting to the free throw line in the pros with the same alarming regularity as college. And Courtney Paris, once in WNBA witness protection, dominated them inside: 12 points and 15 rebounds.

And yet Tulsa, a rotten defensive team (allowing a league-worst 84 points per game) was ripe to be outscored. Problem: The Sun weren't capable. It doesn't mean they didn't try. They just don't have very good offensive players. Sort of makes that night they beat Phoenix last month, scoring 96 points, the Miracle At Mohegan. Maybe the fatigue of the season wasn't as prevalent.

Alex Bentley, after a streak of 20-plus point games, is 30 for her last 78 from the field, including 6 for her last 25 from 3-point range. Katie Douglas, asked to do too much — guard the other team's best player and score consistently — was 1-for-12 Sunday at New York and 6-for-15 in this game. The posts do not convert around the rim enough.

This is the single greatest need for the franchise moving forward. Their kingdom for a shooter. Injured guard Chelsea Gray, while talented, isn't known as a great offensive player. Alba Torrens, one of the elite players in Europe, would help. If she decides to come. Which is why the trade that sent Tina Charles to the Liberty may loom as the Sun's salvation, even beyond bringing two promising young players (Alyssa Thomas and Kelsey Bone) here.

Connecticut has New York's No. 1 draft pick next year. New York, with the league's worst record, not only may end up in the lottery, but might have the best chance to win the first pick. And it belongs to the Sun.

Hmmm. Might that become Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis?

I know. Lots of presumption and speculation. Plenty can happen between now and then. But there's a chance. Maybe a decent one. And if Mosqueda-Lewis works herself into better condition, she'll be a very good WNBA player. Her ability to shoot the ball would change the way teams guard the Sun. For one thing, the posts would have more room to negotiate, perhaps reducing the number of missed layups.

Sorry to be talking next season with so much of this one left. The Sun, despite a four-game losing streak, still have a legitimate chance at the playoffs. But they may regret losing two home games this week. They are a 1-6 road team with 11 of their last 16 games on the road.

And they begin a three-game trip Saturday night at Tulsa. Odyssey Sims should start salivating.

This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro.


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