Minnesota Lynx

WNBA Opening Weekend Thoughts

May 22, 2012 12:05pm
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The 2012 season is officially underway as there were 7 games this weekend. This also means the Minnesota Lynx have started their road to repeat as WNBA Champions.

It all started Friday night in Key Arena, home to the Seattle Storm and one of the league’s best home courts. Here was a team, partly in transition, after they sent Cash and Willingham to Chicago for their 2nd pick in this year’s draft. A still veteran team though, that added all time leading scorer Tina Thompson and great Euroleague big Ann Wauters, Seattle was hoping to maintain their high expectations. Hosting the Los Angeles Sparks under new coach Carol Ross, LA was hoping to turn around their disappointing results in recent seasons. The Storm came out on fire, getting Wauters a ton of easy post touches. While TT drained her NBA range 3′s, the Sparks were settling for and missing a series of mid-range jumpers. As the game wore on it seemed the Sparks had enough to get back into the game, but were suddenly staring at a 21 point deficit late in the 3rd quarter. Lots of ball pressure from the Sparks led to some Seattle TOs and easy run-outs, a barrage of 3′s from Toliver and some key baskets from Parker sent LA on a massive run which tied up the game late in the 4th and continued through, to the final buzzer.

Saturday’s card had 4 games on tap. It started early as the New York Liberty hosted the Connecticut Sun at the MSG. The Liberty enjoyed an 8 point halftime lead, due in part to the time they spent at the free throw line. Despite still trailing by 7 entering the 4th quarter, the Sun scored 27 points in the final period, capitalizing on a fatigued Liberty team who couldn’t execute on offense or get the necessary stops on defense.  Read more »

Top 6 2012 Draft Class preseason update

May 15, 2012 12:35pm
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Pick 2012 WNBA DRAFT – ROUND 1
1 Los Angeles — Nnemkadi Ogwumike
2 Seattle — Shekinna Stricklen
3 Minnesota — Devereaux Peters
4 Tulsa — Glory Johnson
5 San Antonio — Shenise Johnson
6 Phoenix — Samantha Prahalis

A quick update on top 6 draft picks in this year’s 2012 WNBA draft and how they might factor into their respective teams this season.

1. Nnemkadi Ogwumike: The consensus top player on every team’s draft board moves down the California coast from Silicon Valley to Hollywood. Although WNBA training camps are brief, Candace Parker has already declared Ogwumike “one of the most athletic players I’ve played with or against in my entire career.” After the Sparks preseason game against Japan coach Carol Ross said, “Nneka is playing with a lot of energy and really uses her athleticism. She brings a real spark to the team.” This new Spark has now lead them in scoring in 2 of their 3 preseason games and logged the most game minutes. If she’s not starting by mid season I’d still imagine Ogwumike logging starters minutes and being on the floor in crunch time very early in the season.

2. Shekinna Stricklen: After missing the Storm’s first preseason game due to her commencement ceremony at the University of Tennesee, Stricklen came back to score a game high 15 points and play a game high 30 min in the Storm’s win over Los Angeles in their 2nd preseason game. While Stricklen won’t have the impact of Ogwumike, she will be expected to contribute right away with a very different Seattle roster this season. Don’t count out what playing for coach Brian Agler and with PG Sue Bird can do for a young player like Stricklen. Read more »

Interview: The Examiner’s Mike Peden previews the returning champion Minnesota Lynx

May 12, 2012 8:46am
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Mike Peden covers the Minnesota Lynx for the St. Paul Examiner. Mike is a writer and video producer for TSB Sports and contributes written and digital stories in all levels of sports. His beats include the WNBA’s Minnesota Lynx, the University of Minnesota Golden Gopher women’s basketball team and Twin Cities area high school webcasts. Make sure you head over to his YouTube channel where Mike has uploaded a ton of great interviews from Lynx Media Day. You can also find him on Twitter @thesportsbrain

Mike shared his insight with us on the Minnesota Lynx, and their high expectations this season.

With essentially the same roster coming back, after a year in which they won the title, is there anything different that stands about this year’s team heading into the season?

One preseason game and training camp isn’t enough to fully evaluate differences to last year, but you’re seeing a valiant effort from Minnesota’s bench players, almost as if they’re addressing rumors about chemistry and emotion before they ever begin. Many reporters, local and national, have noted how the second-string players could make a legitimate starting five on another franchise, and much discussion floated around whether Candice Wiggins would take her talents to another team where more exposure could be offered. Instead, Candice talked about how grateful she felt that Minnesota wanted her back, a feeling that echoed throughout the league as no opposing team even made an offer for her. Wiggins is on a mission to signal unity and good spirits with the reserves, hoping the term “Bench Mob” will catch on with Lynx followers on Twitter. So far, the effort to subdue any thoughts of egos overflowing is the major difference between this year and last year as they continue to navigate unfamiliar territory.

Recently, Coach Cheryl Reeve talked about her high hopes for Maya Moore. What do you expect to see in her 2nd season?

Maya Moore’s rookie season could be considered “average” statistically, but even when she didn’t do well, her presence benefited Minnesota. Moore was fifth in the WNBA last year in the overall plus/minus rating with a +12.1. The WNBA preview mentioned Moore fighting minor injuries with her legs in 2011, but if there is a second-year leap for the UConn prodigy, look out. Barring something fishy, I don’t believe we’re going to see Maya get another goose egg on the stat sheet in a game like she did against San Antonio in the regular season. Consistency is the biggest hurdle she needs to clear.

 

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Minnesota’s final roster suddenly not so final

May 11, 2012 8:56am
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Heading into training camps, the Minnesota Lynx were one of the teams with a roster pretty set in stone. They would keep their top draft pick Peters, add their veteran signing in Thorn and say goodbye to everyone else. That is until last night’s preseason win over the Connecticut Sun, where Amber Harris suffered a potentially serious ankle injury. Combine that with some inspired play from rookie Julie Wojta, in both tonight’s game and throughout training camp, and suddenly this Lynx roster might not be set. Many have speculated that Julie Wojta would probably land with another WNBA team if she did not make the Lynx, but Harris’ injury last night makes earning a roster spot with Minnesota a greater possibility now.

Mike Peden from the St. Paul Sports Examiner discusses this developing situation further. “Determining who will make the final roster for the Minnesota Lynx is no longer considered a cinch… Wojta’s inevitable conversion from power forward to small forward may tilt the argument to Harris, but with three Minnesota players participating in the Olympic Games in London this summer, a shorthanded roster to start the season could risk exhausting energy too early.”

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.

 

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Hoops Insider interview with SLAMOnline’s Stephen Litel

May 31, 2011 4:20pm
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As we get ready for Friday’s season opener, between the Minnesota Lynx and the Los Angeles Sparks, we brought in WNBA and SLAMOnline writer Stephen Litel who kindly agreed to share his thoughts on the Minnesota Lynx. With over six years of experience covering the league, there was no shortage of information as Stephen gave us his insightful takes about this year’s team.

 

HI: It is rare that rookies make a dramatic impact in their first season. What contributions can we expect from Minnesota’s two top draft picks Maya Moore and Amber Harris this season?

SL: No matter what the sport, it does take rookies time to adjust to the professional level. However, if there are any two rookies who are most suited towards adjusting quickly to the WNBA, it’s Maya Moore and Amber Harris.

Everyone knows Moore’s history as simply one of the best collegiate players in history and it was a foregone conclusion she would be the number one pick this year a few years ago. She was ready for the WNBA long ago and her history of dominating in college, as well as playing with the WNBA’s best with USA Basketball gives her an upper-hand in adjusting very quickly.

Harris looked very impressive in her preseason debut last week. She gave Lynx fans a glimpse of why Minnesota (and yours truly) have been so big on her for the past couple seasons and with the post situation in Minnesota, she will receive big minutes right off the bat. At the team’s media day a few weeks back, she spoke glowingly of learning the WNBA game from players with as much success as Taj McWilliams-Franklin and Rebekkah Brunson and she is correct. The two veterans will be able to give the athletic and already-basketball-savvy rookie pointers as the season goes along.

It would be unfair to them to expect them to play to their full potential immediately, but knowing the intelligence, athletic ability and work ethic of both Maya Moore and Amber Harris, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see solid play very quickly.

Read more »

ESPN.com Chat with Taj McWilliams-Franklin

May 26, 2011 2:26pm
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Taj McWilliams-Franklin will be a hit with fans on and off the court in Minnesota, if she is not already. It is great to find athletes embracing social media and connecting directly with the fans. You can read Taj McWilliams-Franklin’s chat with ESPN.com here. We linked to a training camp journal on her Facebook in a previous post.

Lynx defeat Fever in Preseason matchup at the Gangelhoff Center

May 25, 2011 10:39am
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There might not be more hype, entering this season, then that surrounding the Minnesota Lynx. With the drafting of Maya Moore and Amber Harris, Augustus returning from injury and the addition of McWilliams-Franklin, the Lynx could have the biggest increase of wins of any team from a year ago.

Mike Peden reported on the preseason game yesterday, where the Lynx won 71-66.

“Although Moore has been hailed as Minnesota’s next star since she was drafted, fellow first-round pick Amber Harris showcased the team’s revamped post players. The Xavier alum finished with a double-double, netting 10 points and 10 rebounds, showing the versatility that landed her on Lynx radar since last year.”

Angel Robinson also had a strong outing for Minnesota, while the Indiana starters played well early building a 24-16 1st quarter lead.

Injury Report