Last night’s sole WNBA game saw one of the least surprising results of the season. Despite losing four of their previous five games, Minnesota arrived in Connecticut still in possession of the WNBA’s best record at 18-7. Their recent slip-ups have allowed Chicago and Los Angeles to creep closer, but the fact that they were still top of the pile illustrated how dominant they’ve been for most of the season. At 7-17, the Sun were rock bottom of both the East and the WNBA as a whole, as a disastrous season finally starts to crawl to a close. It started with Asjha Jones deciding to take the whole season off and Danielle McCray blowing out her achilles. More injuries, underperformance, and the general unrest created by dumping head coach Mike Thibault and replacing him with Anne Donovan has continued a downward trend. With 10 games left they were still only 3.5 outside the playoffs heading into last night, but everyone involved with the Sun organisation would like the season to end as quickly as possible.
Allison Hightower (knee) and Kelly Faris (foot) were shut down for the remainder of the season earlier this week, and Kara Lawson wasn’t fit enough to suit up after recently returning to the Sun following compassionate leave to be with her ill father. That left Renee Montgomery and Tan White starting in the backcourt again, with Kalana Greene regaining her starting spot on the wing by default. They were down to eight bodies in total. After a few minor injuries had contributed to their recent losses, Minnesota had all 11 players available.
Arguably the high point of the game for Connecticut came on the opening possession. Tina Charles went right by Janel McCarville and finished for what would be the Sun’s only lead of the game at 2-0. Plays like that are what worry you about McCarville in the middle of Minnesota’s defense. She’s got great hands and decent instincts, but her quickness to stick with the more mobile posts in the league is dubious. If she was taller it would be less of an issue because she’d be more of a presence inside, but she isn’t that big either. The positive in the early stages of this game was that McCarville offered something offensively. She hit a deep jumper moments after that Charles basket, then jumped a passing lane for a steal and a breakaway layup. Later in the period she even nailed her second three-pointer of the season after Charles left her alone beyond the arc. If she can at least be some kind of threat on offense, she’ll force defenses to pay some kind of attention to her. One player that can be virtually ignored – at either end of the floor – becomes a much bigger issue in the playoffs when opponents spend days gameplanning for a specific opponent. The Lynx have to get something from their center spot.