How I spent my summer vacation by the CT SunJuly 17, 2012
UNCASVILLE, CT. - So what are you going to do on your summer vacation, Connecticut Sun players?
How will your essays on that topic begin when you go back to your blogs and Facebook pages when the WNBA season resumes in mid-August?
The league is taking a summer break because 12 of its best players – those athletes who are the keys to their professional teams’ successes – will be going for the Gold in London at the 2012 summer Olympics. A sprinkling of other players will be playing for their home and adopted countries.
So since some teams, such as the Minnesota Lynx, with Olympians Maya Moore, Seimone Augustus and Lindsey Whalen and the Connecticut Sun (Asjha Jones and Tina Charles) and the Chicago Sky (Sylvia Fowles and Swin Cash), with two each, would be at a distinct disadvantage, the league, as it has traditionally done in the past, will suspend play for a month.
Some players are going home to their families, others will do light workouts in Connecticut, at least one hopes to find a cheap flight to London to see the games but the Sun’s Mistie Mims will probably have the most fun of all as she goes on a delayed honeymoon to Fiji, a year after marrying O’Neal Mims, who plays basketball professionally in France, where Mistie plays during the winter.
She and other players said the break is a good time to regroup mentally and physically for the grueling second half of the season when the Sun will work to maintain their Eastern Conference lead and to enter the playoffs in solid shape.
The season “wears you down,” Mims said. “Most of us will come back with fresh legs. We need the mental break.”
At the season break, the Sun is 15-4, tied with the 2011 WNBA champion Minnesota Lynx with the best record in the league. The Sun resumes play Aug 16 at conference rival New York Liberty.
Another Sun player who hopes to be far flung – though not as far as Fiji – is Kalana Greene, who said if she can find a cheap flight she’ll hop one to London to see six former UConn players compete for the country’s fifth straight Gold Medal.
Greene also plans to work out regularly at the gym and will go back home to South Carolina to visit her family and if she doesn’t go to London, will return to Connecticut early to resume training.
She and others said they’re not worried about their momentum changing (the Sun were 5-1 in July, their only July 1 at home in over to Seattle..
Most teams are in the same situation, Greene said. “There’s enough time to get it (the momentum) back.”
Tan White plans to go home to Indianapolis, where she owns a home, She played with the Fever from 2005-08. She’ll also visit family in Atlanta, whom she saw only briefly when the Sun played the Dream in mid-June.
“Hopefully when we come back, we’ll have 20 days to get back our rhythm,” White said.
Perhaps the player for whom the break will be the toughest is Renee Montgomery, whose energy on and off the court is notable.
“I’ll just try to sit down,” she said, referring to her difficulty remaining inactive. “The first day I’ll be fine, the second day I’ll be fine and then by the third day, I’ll get antsy and run on the treadmill. Then I’ll probably add more. “My goal is to take a break but that’s hard for me.”
She plans to visit her family in West Virginia and a friend in Minnesota and when she does chill for a few hours, will watch movies. “I love movies – I’ll watch every movie possible,” Montgomery said.
She said the hardest part of the break is that she’ll miss the daily contact with her teammates. “We see each other every day even when there’s no practice.” And, of course, she’ll watch the Olympics and cheer on Team USA, especially Moore and Charles who she played with at UConn.
Losing momentum “is always a concern,” Montgomery said. “We are playing well but we’ll be more rejuvenated when we come back. We’re still hungry .. we haven’t won a championship. All the teams play better after the break; I know we have to be better.”
Caution about the second half was most explicately expressed by Kara Lawson, who lives in Connecticut, where she is a women’s basketball analyst for ESPN in the off season.
“I still think we have some growth to do,” Lawson said. “We have to continue to prepare for play-off type teams, she added, referring to Minnesota, Seattle, Los Angeles, and San Antonio, the latter three they play on the road in the second half.
“We see them at different points in the schedule – they are checkpoints for us. Can we win these types of games?” The Sun had a 2-3 record against these teams in the first half.
Lawson said four weeks is plenty of time to get into better shape for the second half. “It’s a time for all of us to work on skills and it’s the responsibility of each of us to push ourselves and bring back something new,” she said.
The job of making sure they play with renewed energy, though, finally falls on the shoulders of head coach Mike Thibault and his staff.
Thibault took this week off for a family reunion in Minnesota and to celebrate his father’s 88th birthday. “150 relatives will be there .. it’s possibly the last time we’ll all get together at the same time,” he said.
When players return, Thibault will start with daily workouts the first few days, reduce to every other day in the middle section to all time for some public relations and community work, and then the last 10 days, will be like pre-season training camp.
Although he knows the road ahead is tough, he’s pleased with the first half of the season.
I think at the start of the season you're hoping you're in the hunt," he said. "To have 15 wins is probably more than we expected,” he is quoted as saying after the overtime win in Chicago Friday that ended the first half.