Douglas does it for Sun

Originally Published: October 8, 2004
By Mechelle Voepel | Special to ESPN.com

UNCASVILLE, Conn. -- Connecticut's Katie Douglas sat with her right foot in a tub of ice water following the Sun's 68-64 victory in Game 1 of the WNBA Finals on Friday. She had turned it -- or something, she wasn't exactly sure what -- with a little more than seven minutes left in the first half. She went down on the Mohegan Sun Arena court and then was helped to the sidelines, putting no weight on her foot.

Katie Douglas
The Sun's Katie Douglas couldn't bear weight on her ankle at first, but came back to burn Seattle for a team-high 18 points.
But she wasn't too worried -- certain, in fact, that she would be able to come back. And she did, finishing with a team-high 18 points.

Afterward, she said her foot was "not great. But I was able to go out and perform."

Speaking of performances, though, first we have to give a nod to David Cassidy, who sang The Star-Spangled Banner. You know, he sure looked taller on "The Partridge Family." In real life, he seemed rather tiny and lithe, and since he wasn't wearing the velvet vest, you couldn't really expect that he would follow up the national anthem by launching into, "Hey ... I think I love you, so what am I so afraid of ... "

Instead, the Greatest Hits act was Ronnie Spector, who sang "Baby, I Love You" and "Be My Baby" at halftime to the politely distracted applause of those of the 9,341 in attendance who weren't in the concession lines. That double bill was a tad cheesier than anything you'd find on a plate of nachos, but hey ... this place is a casino.

And to some degree, the returning, would-be conquering heroine -- Sue Bird -- thinks the Sun effectively rolled the dice on how they defended the Storm.

"They play that cock-eyed, switch-on-everything style," Bird said. "It creates mismatches, which are good for us, but then they have everybody in help. They're putting the bait out there, they leave you wide open at the 3-point line, so sure you want to shoot it. They'd rather us take those shots. I felt like what we better do in the latter part of the game was attack the basket regardless."

That, indeed, did give Seattle a chance at what would have been a mind-blowing comeback after the Storm trailed by 16 with 7:21 left. But the hole was too big to overcome, in large part because of what Douglas had been able to do offensively.

"We really needed her to make shots," Connecticut coach Mike Thibault said. "Those are some of the ones that didn't go in last week against New York. She had great confidence.

"When she went down, I think it's the same ankle she rolled a couple of times this year. I'm sure she'll be sore tomorrow, but she's played with that before," he said.

Douglas gave a nod to point guard Lindsay Whalen for finding her open so often in transition. That included Douglas going 3-for-6 from behind the arc, and those all seemed to carry a hammer quality to them -- rousing the crowd and irritating the Storm defense.

You can't really blame any defense for having a difficult time stopping that. How do you dare leave Whalen very much open when she's headed toward the basket? But, by the same token, how do you dare let her find a hot shooter -- especially when she does it so quickly and expertly that you can't go cover it in time?

What are you supposed to do? Maybe just hope whoever she's passing to misses a lot more than Douglas did. Douglas averaged 10.7 points during the regular season and 8.8 in her five previous playoff games this year. With Nykesha Sales having an off night scoring, Douglas' points were all the more vital for the Sun.

"Lindsay kept looking for her on the break," Thibault said. "It's hard (for a defender) when Lindsay is pushing at you ... that's a tough choice: Lindsay or Katie Douglas. When she's making 3s, it's hard."

Mechelle Voepel of the Kansas City Star is a regular contributor to ESPN.com. She can be reached at mvoepel@kcstar.com.

Mechelle Voepel joined ESPN.com in 1996 and covers women's college hoops, the WNBA, the LPGA, and additional collegiate sports for espnW.

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