Tonight, the Sun hosts the Mystics and Coach Mike Thibault
THE TRANSITION FROM THIBAULT
Kelly Faris admits she feels like a rookie, Kara Lawson admits there hasn’t been enough time or game action to get a handle on her team, Anne Donovan admits she’s a little nervous about coaching for the first time against the man she replaced. The stage is set for the return of Mike Thibault. Last fall Thibault fell short of leading the Connecticut Sun to the WNBA championship, his only failing in ten years as head coach of the local entry. After letting a conference final advantage get away his tenure as the only coach in Sun history ended when he was informed his contract would not be renewed. It didn’t take him long to land on his feet. He now does the shopping and the coaching for the Washington Mystics, who quickly followed his firing by the Sun by naming him their head coach and general manager. He wasted no time taking that second job seriously, immediately putting his own signature on the Mystics, returning only four players from last season’s roster. Today life is good for Thibault, who owns a condo a block and a half from the Verizon Center and walks to work every day. Tonight he’ll be back at the old digs and Donovan says she understands the emotions he must be dealing with today. “I went through that at Seattle”, Donovan recalled after yesterday’s Sun practice in Montville, “Wondering how the fans will respond when you’re introduced.” She’s only had one chance to introduce herself to the Sun fans, only one home game so far on an early season schedule she admits has been a bit disjointed and has barely given her a chance to get a handle on her new team. The Sun last played last Saturday in Minnesota and won’t play again after tonight until next Friday against the Liberty in New Jersey. “It’s going to take about ten games to really get a feel for the new teammates”, said Lawson, the veteran guard who played two seasons for Thibault, but says she’s no stranger to playing against a former coach. “I’ve played for five or six different coaches in my career”, she said, “It really isn’t that big a deal playing against them.” Lawson will be breaking in a new backcourt mate against the Mystics tonight. With injuries to Renee Montgomery and, this week, Tan White, and WNBA rules against expanding rosters until they dip to eight players and emergency signees are allowed, the Sun will count much more on Faris, earlier than they expected. “She’s a hard nosed defender and a determined player”, Donovan said of Faris, on whom she and Sun GM Chris Sienko used their first round pick just a week after Faris and the Huskies came home with the national championship trophy, “I’m confident she’s up to the job.” “I have to buy my own food”, said Faris with a laugh, when asked about the biggest difference between college and the pros, “I’m an adult now and have to be more responsible for myself, and with all these great players here I do feel like a rookie.” Kelly Faris is a pro now, Anne Donovan, who has coached a lot of opponents against local teams, pro and college, is now the home town coach. Tonight the old coach is sure to get a warm welcome from the old fans, who then will then turn their attention to the new coach and the new look the Sun prepare to take into the future. They might want to wear their transition lenses. With a comment from the sports world, I’m Scott Gray.