Sun's Lacy is a true pro
Mohegan — The baseball field was a second home of sorts for Jennifer Lacy during her childhood. Her father, Lee, played 16 years in the major leagues, so she grew up around the likes of Dusty Baker and Tommy Lasorda.
“He’s been a big influence on me and my career,” Lacy said about her father. “He always said that sports are peaks and valleys. It really resonates with me. My career has kind of been up and down and in and out, just doing what’s asked of me. I think without that mindset that it would’ve been a lot harder to assume the roles that I have assumed.”
Lacy has been a role player during her 10-year journey through the WNBA. She’s with her fifth team, the Connecticut Sun, and she’s started the previous two games due to injuries. She and Connecticut play at the Tulsa Shock tonight (BOK Center, 8 p.m.)
Lacy will continue to see more minutes as the Sun (12-12) continue to be chewed up by the injury bug. Starting forward Alyssa Thomas (shoulder sprain) and reserve rookie center Elizabeth Williams (knee contusion) were both hurt last week, and coach Anne Donovan said it'll be another week before both are reevaluated.
Reserve post Kayla Pedersen was concussed during Sunday’s 90-77 loss to the Atlanta Dream and wasn’t scheduled to travel to Tulsa.
Connecticut lost five players to injuries before the regular season, including starters Katie Douglas and Chiney Ogwumike.
Lacy, a 6-foot-3 forward, began this season with the Los Angeles Sparks and started in four of their first eight games. They waived her on July 6 and the Sun signed her two days later.
Lacy played just 33 minutes in seven games with Connecticut when Thomas got hurt. She’s provided it with a more consistent outside threat and tied her career high with 21 points in Sunday’s loss.
“(She's) changed our offense,” Donovan said. “We love what AT gives us in terms of her scrappiness and her hustle and the physicality of her game. Jen is a different player with different strengths. It’s opened up the lane a little more for (center Kelsey) Bone to do more damage.
“You love players like (Connecticut’s) Kayla Pedersen, Kelly Faris, Jen Lacy, that they’re always working on their game, constantly knowing that when an opportunity comes, 'I better be ready to step in or I better step aside.' … I cannot say enough about pros that stay in the pro mentality whether they’re playing or not.”
Lacy is comfortable with her place in the WNBA because of her roots. She was an undrafted rookie free agent from Pepperdine in 2006 when the Phoenix Mercury signed her. She was a reserve for their 2007 WNBA championship team.
“When I first started, it was just such a privilege (to be in the WNBA). For me, it was more like, ‘I’m going to seize every opportunity that I have' and it was just such a huge sense of gratitude, which I still have to today about being in this league, a huge sense of pride being in this league.”
Connecticut’s playoff hopes took a hit in recent days thanks to others in the Eastern Conference race. Wins by the second-place Indiana Fever and Washington Mystics gave both a three-game lead over the fifth-place Sun in the standings. It’s actually a four-game lead as both own the head-to-head tiebreaker over Connecticut. All three teams have 10 games remaining in the regular season.
Tulsa (12-14) beat the East-leading New York Liberty (81-76, Aug. 15) and defending WNBA champion Phoenix (74-59, Tuesday) in its last two games.
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The league-leading Connecticut Sun were wiped out by Chicago in the second quarter and absorbed their first beatdown of the WNBA season, 93-75, before 5,607 at Wintrust Arena.