Attention shifts to Connecticut for All-Star Game

Updated: July 8, 2005, 10:22 PM ET
Associated Press

Despite being the league's best team, the Connecticut Sun might not be getting the recognition they deserve. Now the entire WNBA and its fans are forced to focus on Connecticut.

Hosting the league's midseason showcase, the Sun go into the break with the league's best record and the best in franchise history, but have only two players in Saturday's All-Star Game (ABC, 4 p.m. ET) at Mohegan Sun Arena.

MORE ALL-STAR COVERAGE
The 2005 WNBA All-Star Game will be played at Mohegan Sun Arena at 4 p.m. ET (ABC) on July 9.

Click on the following links for more coverage:

• ESPN.com's complete coverage
• Mystics' Beard promises East's first win
• Thibault, Sun seek respect
• Voepel: And along came loyal fans
• Midseason awards: Lieberman | Voepel
• Lieberman: Whalen omission 'absurd'
• Lieberman: Popularity vs. productivity
• Starters | Reserves
• Lieberman: My All-Star ballot
• WNBA.com's All-Star coverage
• Rosters | History | Tickets
While Detroit enters the break at .500 and has four players in this game, including two starters -- one that has played just two games all season -- Connecticut might deserve twice as many players as it has represented. While not one Sun player was voted a starter in fan balloting, forward Taj McWilliams-Franklin and guard Nykesha Sales were named reserves. They are the only tandem in the WNBA averaging more than 15 points.

"It bugs me. It's hard to fathom having the best record and not having an All-Star starter when you have one starter who hasn't played in a game all year,'' said Connecticut's Mike Thibault, who will coach the Eastern team. "I understand it's the fans voting and I think it's good we have the fans involved.

"But I also think it's too bad they aren't watching what's really happening sometimes. I think this will help motivate our players.''

A torn knee ligament kept Detroit star Swin Cash sidelined all season until Tuesday, but she was voted as one of the East's starting forwards along with Indiana's Tamika Catchings, who's shooting just 33 percent from the field and averaging 14.6 points, well below her career average (17.8).

"Scoring is an issue,'' said Catchings, the second-leading vote-getter behind Houston's Sheryl Swoopes, "but I think people just love seeing great players doing great things.''

Maybe the most glaring omission is Lindsay Whalen, the second-year point guard who has engineered the WNBA's top-scoring offense and the Sun's 12-3 start. Whalen, averaging 12.3 points, is fourth in the league in assists (5.6) and ranks third among guards in field-goal shooting (47.2 percent).

Another key to the Sun's success has been Margo Dydek, who finished second in balloting for the East's starting center spot behind Detroit's Ruth Riley. The 7-foot-2 Dydek is the league's second-leading shot blocker, and her scoring and rebounding averages are better than Riley's.

While the Sun might not be well represented, the University of Connecticut is, and its alumni should be among the crowd favorites. The starting backcourt for the West is comprised of former Huskies Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi, two of the league's most recognizable stars.

Bird is joined in the starting lineup by Seattle teammate Lauren Jackson, and Storm coach Anne Donovan will be guiding the Western squad.

Cash and Sales are East's ex-Huskies.

Like Sales, Los Angeles teammates Lisa Leslie and Chamique Holdsclaw will be making their sixth All-Star appearances. Holdsclaw, the league's leading scorer at 19.4 points per game, is on the West team for the first time after spending the last six seasons with Washington.

"The All-Star game is high scoring, a little shake-and-bake, not too serious, but you want to win,'' Holdsclaw said. "I have been on the East and I don't think we have ever beaten the West. I am on the West side now; we have to keep it going.''

The West has a 5-0 record against the East.

That record went unchanged last season as a group of WNBA All-Stars played the U.S. Olympic team at Radio City Music Hall in New York in early August before the league took a monthlong break for the Athens Games.


Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press