Mohegan — Before every game, Sun coach Mike Thibault provides his players a pithy quote from someone famous at the bottom of the scouting report.
He may want to channel Tom Coughlin, coach of the Giants, to punctuate today's game with Chicago:
"No toughness, no championship," Coughlin likes to say.
And given the significance of today's game - and that the Sun were softer than cream cheese in Friday's hideous loss to Phoenix - toughness might bat leadoff.
"Fifty percent of rebounding is effort," Thibault said after Friday's game, a 91-82 loss in which the Sun were outrebounded 45-21.
Now comes another desperate team to Mohegan Sun. Chicago (11-16) owns the final playoff spot by a half-game in the Eastern Conference over New York. The Sky won in New York on Friday.
The Sun (20-8) have their own desperation issues. Their lead atop the conference has shrunk to 1.5 games over Indiana. If Connecticut wants to win its fourth regular season title in franchise history - and earn homecourt throughout the conference playoffs - today's game is about as close to a "must" as possible.
So will anything change today?
Kara Lawson says yes.
"It will be different on Sunday," Lawson said after Friday's game, sitting stone-faced at her locker.
Lawson, one of the team's veterans, did her best to explain the team's predicament.
"Any game can have a carryover if you don't make it a point as an individual to change your approach or change how you play," she said. "We were terrible. We can't just play out the string. You don't win in this league or advance in the playoffs if you play out the string at the end.
"You have to be the type of team that's consistently improving and working on things to get better. Sure, it's about winning and losing for position, but it's more about how you're playing at this time of the season."
Thibault said that center Tina Charles would likely get some rest on the upcoming road trip to alleviate soreness in her hip and groin. Asjha Jones may return on the road trip, he said. Either way, the healthy players need a healthier want-to today.
"Can you have a night like this?" Lawson asked after the loss to Phoenix. "Sure. If that's Game 1 of the playoffs or Game 3, the season's over. The challenge is consistent focus and consistent effort every night. This needs to change over the last six games. I have great confidence it will."