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Monday, August 15, 2011
Tina Charles having MVP-caliber season

By Michelle Smith

UNCASVILLE, Conn. -- Even in an MVP season, not every day is going to be a great day.

Tina Charles sat in front of her locker Thursday night after shooting 2-for-13 from the floor in a tough loss to the San Antonio Silver Stars -- just the second defeat at home for the Connecticut Sun this season -- and immediately located her perspective.

"We all have one of those games," Charles said. "I'm not going to let it get to me."

Charles, the WNBA's rookie of the year in 2010, could be on her way to being its most valuable player in her second pro season. She is averaging 17.3 points and a league-leading 10.5 rebounds per game for a team that looks bound for the playoffs and could pull off a long postseason run.

Charles, the former Connecticut All-American, said she had a different feeling heading into her second season.

"I had a good feeling [coming into the season]," she said. "I think I'm more relaxed. There are more things I understand about the game."

Charles said she also understands her body more this season, and the importance of rest, pacing and being willing to come out of the game when the coach wants to give her a break.

"The veterans on this team preach about taking care of your body, stretching, working out," Charles said. "As a rookie, I would laugh at that. When you are young, you think you can do anything."

Sun coach Mike Thibault touted his center as an MVP favorite and said Charles' rebounding is "essential" to the team's success.

"We just need our team to be balanced, but she's such an integral part," Thibault said. "We are clearly building the franchise around her and the young players that are here."

Charles said she feels like she's gaining her teammates' respect. That's probably a safe assumption.

"I just want to be there for them," Charles said.

Maya back in Connecticut

It has taken until the home stretch of the WNBA season for Maya Moore to be afforded the opportunity to return to Connecticut.

Moore and the first-place Minnesota Lynx will play at the Mohegan Sun for the only time this season on Tuesday night.

"It's going to be a little different to have a new team and a new jersey," Moore said. "But the fans have been so great and basketball is such a passion [in Connecticut]. Every year, we would go to Mohegan and watch our teammates who got drafted, and I'm looking forward to doing it as a WNBA player now."

Moore should expect a warm welcome during introductions. What happens after that is up to her. If she puts up 30 points, say, things might get cool.

"When the game starts, it's not personal -- it's a game, and we're going to go out and compete," Moore said. "It will actually be OK if they start to boo me, because that means my team is doing something good."

Sun guard Renee Montgomery, Moore's former teammate at UConn, knows the drill.

"When I came back for the first time [with Minnesota] in 2009, I wasn't curious at all. I knew the fans would welcome me back with open arms," Montgomery said. "...But once the game started, they weren't rooting for me anymore."

Seattle steps up

Kudos to the Seattle Storm, which became the first team in the WNBA to participate in a video for the "It Gets Better" project to support gay youth, which was born last year out of the bullying death of a college student at Rutgers.

The Storm joined with the Sounders (MLS), Mariners (MLB) and Seahawks (NFL) in the video, which features Storm players Swin Cash and Lauren Jackson.

Can Parker's return save Sparks?

The Los Angeles Sparks saw Candace Parker return to uniform this past week, her recovery from an early-season torn knee meniscus going well. But will Parker's return to game action in the coming week -- she has been on the bench, but hasn't played yet -- come too late for the struggling Sparks, who are three games out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference?

Milestone for Catchings

Over the weekend, Indiana's Tamika Catchings became the first player in WNBA history to score 5,000 points, pull down 2,000 rebounds and hand out 1,000 assists.