Minnesota Lynx assistant Jim Petersen talks with Hoops Insider

June 3, 2011 2:01pm
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With the Minnesota Lynx set to tipoff the 2011 season, we spoke with Lynx assistant coach Jim Petersen who is in his second season as an assistant with the Lynx. Coach Petersen boasts a heralded playing career including 8 years in the NBA, a Big-10 championship during his four years at the University of Minnesota and a Minnesota Mr. Basketball award. Coach Petersen also serves as the color commentator for the Minnesota Timberwolves.

 

On the health of Augustus and Wiggins

Both of them are back to where they were before they were injured. Seimone has looked as good as she looked prior to two seasons ago. She is in tremendous shape right now and is playing well.

Candace is in the same boat, but she has experienced some knee swelling, although she can get through it with treatment.  She is looking as quick as I ever seen her. From a quickness standpoint, she’s in tip-top shape.

 

On the depth of Minnesota’s backcourt and versatility it allows

We have players that can play multiple positions. Lindsey Whalen will be the starting point guard. Candace can play a dual role and play the shooting guard position as well, which gives us a lot of versatility. Seimone Augustus can play the shooting guard and the small forward. Monica Wright can also initiate the offense as a combo guard. Hornbuckle can go one through three. She is our third PG, but she can play the shooting guard and small forward position in our offense.

 

On players that will surprise Lynx fans this season

Fans will be pleasantly surprised by what an impact Taj will have. She is like a coach on the floor. She has an ability to communicate what might be coming, like a formation on an out of bounds play. From a veteran leadership standpoint, that will be what Lynx fans notice most.

They will see a maturity in Monica Wright’s game. She could be a bit out of control last year, because we needed her as a rookie to come in a score for us with so many injuries. You are going to notice a maturity that will be an eye opener for some folks.

Amber Harris is really talented. When they see how big Amber Harris is, and what a great touch she has around the hoop, they will be pleasantly surprised.

 

On the team’s best interior and perimeter defenders

Although not as fast as Rebekkah, Taj reads the situation and knows where to be on the floor. She is our best post defender from that aspect. From a physical standpoint, Brunson is our best post defender. Brunson always keeps her feet moving and is amazingly quick. She is a great defensive rebounder but also great offensively. She keeps a lot of possession alive for us with her offensive rebounding.

On the perimeter Monica Wright did a really good job in a lot of games for us last year. Quickness-wise, she is at an elite level for the WNBA.

 

On the style of play we might see from Minnesota as compared to other teams in the league

Phoenix is going to push tempo. Seattle protects the 3 point line and the rim. We see ourselves as a hybrid of the two (Phoenix and Seattle). We want to defend but still to get out and run because we think our wing players are one of our big strengths. Coach Reeve really wants to play fast but she wants to guard people and be solid in defending the pick and roll game. Shooting a high % and leading the league in rebounding are two of our biggest priorities.

 

On playing time and player rotation

We are going to try do a good job of rotating players in and out and have different combinations on the floor. With them playing year round, we don’t want to burn people out. We want to be there at the end so we will use a lot of players early.

We have been so snake bitten, so hopefully we can go through a season without any major injuries. Coach Reeve has a really good system in mind and we spend a lot of time thinking about our rotations and how we are going to play people. We want people to be fresh and ready to play come playoff time.

 

On the lofty expectations for Maya Moore

The beauty of this for her is we have had everyone in training camp. Moore has the benefit of having veterans players around her, which has been great for her learning curve. There are so many play sets for Moore to remember and to execute as a wing player and as a post player. She is a fast learner and doesn’t have to carry a team like at Connecticut. She can be a support player and come along at her own pace.

 

On  the season expectations for Minnesota

I think there will be a little bit of a learning curve in terms of playing together. Seattle, Phoenix, and Los Angeles have played together and have a system in place. They have a little bit of an advantage from that standpoint, so I am anticipating there is a little bit of a learning curve against the better teams.

Every team is loaded with a tremendous amount of ability and everyone is coming into training camp believing they can win a championship. Realistically there are 6 or 7 teams with a chance of winning the title and we think we are one of them.

 

On their first opponent the Los Angeles Sparks

Because of their size, they can really mess you up on the offensive end. They have mismatches, because they can post you up, take you on the perimeter and Candace can push the ball like a point guard from the center position.

Defensively they can hurt you as well, because they can switch on everything. You have to account for that when running your offense.

To beat the Sparks you have to execute well and play hard. If you don’t play hard you aren’t going to win.

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