Posts Tagged ‘ Minnesota Lynx ’

Part 1: Another WNBA installment of “Did you know?”

August 5, 2011 2:37pm
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Part 1 of 2

We did a segment earlier this season where we shared some interesting statistics on the WNBA. We wanted to re-visit this idea and find some new interesting statistics and tidbits for each of the league’s 12 teams. Here’s is Part 1 of “Did you Know?”

Atlanta Dream: The Dream are the league’s 2nd fastest team ahead of San Antonio and Minnesota and behind Phoenix. What is interesting is that generally the faster they play, the worst they do.  In their 5 fastest games, all played with at least 86 possessions, the Dream are 1-4, -9 point differential. In their 5 slowest games all played at less than 79 possessions, the Dream are 4-1 with a +8 point differential.

Chicago Sky: Much has been said about the horrid 4th quarter performance by Chicago as they scored 1 point in the entire quarter to lose at New York by 10 on Thursday. While their 4th quarter efficiency was certainly the worst this season for a single quarter (if not the worst ever, which I think it was) their efficiency for the entire game was only the 2nd worst offensive output of the year.  Seattle’s 74-50 loss to the Sparks, in the 1st week of the season, takes the cake. While Tulsa has come close many times, they never dipped below a 70 efficiency.

Connecticut Sun: I tend to think of the Sun as very balanced and deep. While that might be true, Tina Charles and Renee Montgomery have each come up with big single game performances this season. Charles has recorded a 31 point game, a 23 rebound game which is 5 higher than anyone this season, including 15 and 14 rebound performances, and 5 block game. Meanwhile her teammate on the perimeter Montgomery, has recorded a team high 33 point game which included 6 3-pointers, a 10 assist game, and a 5 steal game.

Los Angeles Sparks: It is assumed that Candace Parker is really, really good. Possibly the best women’s player in the world. The Sparks only played the first 6 games (6.5 as she was injured in their game at New York) with her in the lineup. With her in the lineup LA went over 110 offensive efficiency in 3 of their 1st 6 games and held their opponents under 100 in 3 of their first 6 games. Since then that New York game, without Parker in the lineup LA has gone over 110 only once in 12 games, and held opponents to less than 100 in only 2 of 12 games.

Minnesota Lynx: Taj McWilliams-Franklin was the only Minnesota starter to not make the All-Star team, which might automatically designate her the most underrated player in the league. She leads Minnesota with 15.8 net plus/minus rating and has been crucial to the success of this Lynx team. While she isn’t lighting up the scoreboard, her veteran leadership and understanding of where to be on the floor is exhibited by her 3rd best net plus/minus in the league.

Washington Mystics: The Mystics might be suffering through a difficult season, but at least they know who they are, and attempt to play to their strengths. Relying on their front line of Langhorne and Anosike, with not much bench to speak of, Washington has played at the slowest tempo in the league. They also crash the boards as they have the 3rd most second chance points which in part explains why they have taken the 2nd most shots from the 1-5 feet.

In part 2, we will look at the remaining 6 teams in the WNBA.

WNBA Weekend in Review

July 18, 2011 9:34am
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The 2011 season is moving along quickly as the All-Star game is this Saturday. After tonight’s game between San Antonio and Los Angeles, every team will have played between 13 and 15 games.  Besides probably Tulsa, every team still has a legitimate shot at a playoff spot.

Going streaking:

The Phoenix Mercury head into their re-match against the Minnesota Lynx with their league leading 6-game win streak on the line and first place in the Western Conference.  Last game saw the Mercury storm back in the closing minutes to take a 112-105 victory, in the highest scoring game of the season.

The Tulsa Shock have now lost a league leading 9 games in a row. After leading the Sparks for most of Friday’s game, Tulsa couldn’t generate the necessary scoring chances once the Sparks stopped turning the ball over. The Shock will have a chance to re-group as they don’t play again until Tuesday after the All-Star break, hosting the Atlanta Dream.

There’s no place like home:

After a short 1-2 road trip, and two double-digit losses, the Connecticut Sun returned home to the comfy confines of the Mohegan Sun and defeated the Indiana Fever on Sunday. The Sun are undefeated at home, at a perfect 6-0.

Meanwhile the Seattle Storm finish up three game road trip tomorrow at Chicago before heading home. The Storm now stand at 2-5 on the road with their two wins coming against Tulsa and a Mystics team that was missing Crystal Langhorne. Seattle is coming off two road losses including a 69-62 defeat to Minnesota on Saturday.

The bottom of the Eastern Conference:

Although the Washington Mystics are 6 games behind Eastern Conference leading Indiana, they only trail 4th place Chicago by 3 games and have more than half a season left to play.  The Mystics showed lots of resolve in their overtime win over the Sparks, where they mounted the 2nd biggest comeback in WNBA history. Even in the last of their 5 game road trip, and a season full of injuries, Washington showed they should not be forgotten yet.

Just above Washington is the preseason conference favorite Atlanta Dream. Atlanta has been possibly the biggest disappointment this season, but put together their best effort on Saturday. Even playing without Sancho Lyttle, Atlanta looked like the team many pundits believed we would see before the season.

Part 1: Thoughts and stats through the first two weeks of the WNBA season

June 20, 2011 5:35pm
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PART 1 of 2

We are now over two weeks into the WNBA season, with each team having played at least 4 games. Here is our quick take and a look at some of the underlying stats for each team.

 

Atlanta: The Dream, the consensus preseason pick for Eastern conference champions stand at 1-5, staring up at every team in the East. They have had a tough start to the season with an injured Angel McCoughtry and Sancho Lyttle leaving to Spain.

Did you know: The net plus/minus for the Dream’s point guards (thru June 14th only): Harding (-23.0) Lehning (+22.1)

 

Chicago: The Sky can already see a brighter future on the horizon with Coach Pokey Chatman now in charge and a positive 3-2 start. Top draft pick PG Courtney Vandersloot has already played her way into the starting lineup where I expect she’ll remain for the duration of season.

Did you know: The Chicago Sky have been your most “average” team through their first 5 games. They statistically fall just above or below average in just about every category, including possessions, offensive and defensive efficiency, points for and against, TO% and FTA %.

 

Connecticut: The Sun have come out blazing hot this season, helped in part by a healthy Ajsha Jones and the newly named player of the week Tina Charles. Even without Kara Lawson, the Sun were able to get a big road win at Washington last week, as victories away from the Mohegan Sun have been tough to come by in the past two seasons.

Did you know: The Sun have done the best job in the league at keeping the ball on offense which in turn leads to field goal and free throw attempts. They have only turned the ball over 16.4% of the time.

 

Indiana: The Fever are in the midst of a tough road trip losing at Seattle, and losing at Phoenix in overtime. Indiana also lost Katie Douglas for most of the Phoenix  game as she went down with an injury in the 1st quarter.

Did you know: The Fever lead the league at getting to the line. The shoot free throws on over 28% of their possessions.

 

Los Angeles: The Sparks are healthy and deep this season as Candace Parker and Co. have raced out to an impressive 3-1 start. Their strong start is even more impressive as they have defeated the two Western conference finalists from a season ago in Phoenix and Seattle and given league leading  Minnesota (5 wins) it’s only loss of the season.

Did you know: The Sparks’ scoring has been very balanced. They currently have 4 players averaging double figures and another two with at least 7 pts/game.

 

Minnesota: What a difference a year makes for the Lynx. Getting back key players healthy in Augustus and Wiggins, a veteran addition in Taj McWilliams-Franklin, and the top pick overall in Maya Moore have led the Lynx to a league high 5 wins through their first six games.

Did you know: The Lynx starting five boasts the best net plus/minus in the league as well as the highest individual net plus/minus player in McWilliams-Franklin. (thru June 14th)

 

Defending Eastern and Western Conference champions not impressive thus far

June 10, 2011 7:10am
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After the first week of the season, the Atlanta Dream and Seattle Storm have one win combined between them (a 78-71 win for Seattle over the visiting Phoenix Mercury). The Atlanta Dream, with superstar SF Angel McCoughtry, have dropped their first two games of the 2011 season (both home games), the latest defeat coming in OT against the Washington Mystics on national TV. The Seattle Storm, meanwhile, took one on the chin at the hands of the Minnesota Lynx, a game in which they had to climb out of a 24-point hole and did not score until there were two minutes remaining in the first quarter.

Though neither team looks sharp at the moment, one has to keep in mind that the season is barely a week old and most teams are still evaluating personnel for rotation spots or trying to get healthy following the bumps and bruises suffered during training camp.

Observations from Opening Weekend

June 7, 2011 10:53am
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The 2011 WNBA season got underway last weekend. Here were some of the interesting observations:

-Maya Moore is that good. The rookie sensation averaged 18.5ppg in two games against the Sparks, a team high. She also made an array of offensive moves that left the Sparks veterans wondering what hit them.

-Speaking of the Lynx, they certainly have the best wing rotation in the entire WNBA. When you consider that they start two scoring wings (Seimone Augustus and Moore) and bring two scoring wings off their bench (Monica Wright and Candice Wiggins, with the latter doubling as a back-up PG), you’re reminded of just how deep and talented this Lynx team is in 2011. What remains to be seen is whether the lack of playable post depth will be a hindrance.

-LA and Tulsa are missing pieces. Tulsa could use more talent across the board, but attempting to use Amber Holt, a natural forward, as a back-up PG isn’t going to work for a team that wants to prove itself to be more than just a doormat. Ivory Latta is a fine talent, but she simply cannot go at it alone, as evidenced by the effort against San Antonio (seven of her team’s 28 turnovers).

LA would like to contend for a title this season, but it does not appear to be feasible at the moment. Starting PG Ticha Penicheiro looks noticeably a step slower this season, and there is no true PG backing her up. In fact, each of the two players who have been receiving back-up minutes at the point (Kristi Toliver and Natasha Lacy) have each accumulated six turnovers through two games. Not good.

-Diana Taurasi leads the league in scoring…again! But her 31-point effort wasn’t enough for Phoenix to overcome the defending champs (Seattle Storm) in Key Arena. Who led the Storm in that game production-wise? If you answered Camille Little, then you’re absolutely correct. Little fell one rebound short of a double double, as her 18 points and 9 rebounds led the Storm in both categories against the Mercury.

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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Preview: Minnesota Lynx (0-0) v. Los Angeles Sparks (0-0); 11pm EST NBA-TV

June 3, 2011 12:02pm
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Tonight marks the official tip-off of the 2011 WNBA season when the Minnesota Lynx take on the Los Angeles Sparks. Star power will be present, with highly-decorated rookie forward Maya Moore squaring off against 2008 MVP Candace Parker. Parker, who missed the final 24 games of the 2010 season due to a shoulder injury, is back and ready to lead her Sparks back to the top of the Western Conference. Minnesota, meanwhile, will rely on a dynamic wing duo–Seimone Augustus and Moore–to lead them to the playoffs for the first time in Augustus’ career.

Injuries: MIN (none), LAS (none)

Prediction: LA by 3

Minnesota enters the 2011 season as the deepest team in the WNBA, but the Sparks will have home court advantage and have an advantage inside with Parker, Tina Thompson, DeLisha Milton-Jones, Ebony Hoffman, and rookie Jantel Lavender.

15th WNBA season starts tonight (11pm EST)

June 3, 2011 5:06am
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The WNBA season kicks off tonight with a star-studded match-up between the revamped Minnesota Lynx (led by Seimone Augustus and Maya Moore) and the rejuvenated Los Angeles Sparks (led by a healthy Candace Parker). Both teams are looking to improve on sub-par records in 2011. Tonight’s action can be found on NBA TV at 11pm EST (8pm Pacific).

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.

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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.

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