Sun Bounce Back From Dismal Loss
Conn. rebounds from dismal loss with victory the next day
By Ned Griffen Published on 6/8/2009
New York - Moments after Sunday's 66-57 win over New York, Connecticut's Tamika Whitmore was asked about atoning for her dismal performance 24 hours earlier.
”Everybody is talking about (Saturday),” teammate Barbara Turner interjected with a laugh. “Yesterday is gone, man.”
Saturday was long gone as the Sun rebounded, literally and figuratively, from a bummer of a loss to Washington.
There was plenty of blame to be passed around after Saturday's 82-70 loss, but Erin Phillips and Whitmore struggled more than most.
The duo shined before a Madison Square Garden crowd of 13,397 Sunday and provided the highlights of a 19-6 third-quarter scoring advantage.
Whitmore, in her new role as a spark off the bench, had 11 points and eight rebounds.
”(Saturday) was embarrassing,” Whitmore said. “You don't want to start the season down two (games). (Connecticut coach Mike Thibault) basically told us that we had to be aggressive and we came out and we were.”
Phillips made three of six 3-pointers and scored 13 points.
”Whit came into the trainer's room (Saturday) night and said, 'It's a long, long season,'” Phillips said. “I was like, 'Yeah.' … I just put it behind me. Whit put it behind her.”
The Sun outrebounded the Liberty, 47-33, led by Lindsay Whalen (14 points, game-high 12 rebounds).
”We won a game where we shot 32 percent,” Thibault said, “But our defense just kept playing hard and kept us in the game. Our rebounding was huge. We got annihilated on the boards (Saturday).
”We made their 3-point shooters rush. They shot 4 of 24. We tried to speed them up from the rhythm of their game.”
Whitmore looked helpless at times Saturday when she shot 2 of 9 and turned it over five times. Phillips missed all six of her shots and went scoreless.
But they came to the rescue Sunday with the Sun trailing 34-30.
It began with Kerri Gardin, who also struggled Saturday, making back-to-back baskets to tie the game.
Phillips followed with a pull-up jumper and a 3-pointer to increase Connecticut's lead to 39-34.
”I had a good preseason and wanted to get off on a good start,” Phillips said. “I think it was things like trying too hard (Saturday). … Probably just thought about it too much rather than naturally play.”
Whitmore scored five straight and added an assist to put Connecticut ahead, 47-36, with under a minute left in that period.
”I'm kind of doing a new role here, so I'm not comfortable doing it,” Whitmore said. “I think along the way, I'll get a bit little more comfortable.
”I don't get the same shots that I got last year. Everything is more towards the paint and the basket, whereas somebody bigger than me, I step off the block and shoot over them. If they're smaller than me, I'll post them up. I don't know, it's like I'm almost relegated to the paint a little bit more this year than stepping out and just playing. I have to find a rhythm to what we're doing.”
When asked how she liked her new role, Whitmore said, “So far? Honestly, I don't. But if it's what's going to make us win, I'll buy into it.”
Said Thibault: “I think that was one of the best rebounding jobs I've seen (Whitmore) have in a long time,” Thibault said. “If we can get that from her, we'll going to be hard to beat.”
The Sun have the week off before returning home on Sunday to face the Atlanta Dream at 3 p.m.
`EDITORIAL COMMENT: After playing a terrible game Saturday, the Sun turn it around on Sunday. Good Job Sun. Keep it up. What do you think?