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Thibault's return overshadowed by rash of Sun injuries

By Ned Griffen

Publication: The Day

Published June 07. 2013 4:00AM

Mohegan - The storyline for tonight's Connecticut Sun game was supposed to be the return of former head coach Mike Thibault, now the head honcho of the Washington Mystics.

Instead, Connecticut has to adapt after becoming the bane of local HMOs.

Sun guards Renee Montgomery and Tan White are injured and will be sidelined for a few weeks. That leaves Connecticut with nine players for tonight's game at Mohegan Sun Arena (7 p.m., no TV).

"Our bench has been decimated," Sun coach Anne Donovan said. "More than that, it's our scoring punch off the bench. Renee and Tan are the ones that really gave us a lift. We haven't put that pressure on Kelly (Faris). We haven't asked (Natasha) Lacy to be a scorer. That's just not her MO. So it takes all of our scoring punch out of the bench."

Montgomery suffered a high left ankle sprain during last Saturday's loss at the Minnesota Lynx. She's wearing a walking boot and is expected to be out 3-4 weeks.

White broke a finger in her right hand during Tuesday's practice. She miss at least three weeks, too.

Two injuries in three days.

"Unbelievable," Donovan said.

Faris has averaged 9.8 minutes for the Sun (1-2) and attempted just four shots.

Lacy has averaged 7.9 minutes and is more known for being a bulldog on the boards than a scorer.

Teams are only allowed to carry 11 players in the WNBA, so there's no taxi squad for Connecticut to look to for help.

"It just gives opportunity for other people," Donovan said. "You have to look at it as an opportunity for somebody else to do something more. I expect that Kelly and Lacy will try to do that."

Starting guard Kara Lawson sat out Thursday's practice to rest her back.

"I think we've been fortunate in the past to not have too many people injured at one time," Sun wing Kalana Greene said. "It's going to help us force other people to step up. You're going to see other people have to come and fill in roles."

As for Thibault, he coached Connecticut the previous 10 seasons and helped transform the franchise into a consistent winner. The Sun won two Eastern Conference titles under his leadership, but never a WNBA title. He was fired last November with a year left on his contract.

Sports are a transient business. Today's teammate is tomorrow's opponent, so the Sun aren't fazed by Thibault's return.

"He's a great friend and a good colleague," Donovan said. "I can definitely appreciate and acknowledge that it's a different kind of game for him. This game has probably been circled on his calendar for a while."

Greene said, "It's just like facing an old player or old teammate or an old friend. You're friends off the court. When you're on the court, you do business."

n.griffen@theday.com

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