Seimone Augustus knew it could happen. Wednesday morning before practice, Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve, her staff and the rest of the team sat down and went through the video of Friday’s blowout loss in Los Angeles, a one-sided 87-59 drubbing in which Reeve benched her starters after the Sparks built a 50-24 halftime lead.
So Reeve was a bit grumpy before practice even started. And it only got worse.
“The fact that we came out of video and didn’t have a great practice really ruffled her feathers,” Augustus said.
After two days off following Sunday’s bounce-back victory over Tulsa, the team returned to practice Wednesday. And Reeve definitely didn’t like what she saw out of her starters.
“I was pleased with what I saw out of our second team,” Reeve said as the team began preparation for Friday’s rematch with the Sparks. “So it must be this L.A. thing. Any time you talk about L.A., the first team runs and hides and the second team comes out and competes and plays hard. That’s what we saw today.”
Get the idea Reeve was a bit upset? The Lynx starters did struggle before being pulled in L.A. The Sparks scored 20 of their 50 first-half points off Lynx turnovers. Point guard Lindsay Whalen went without an assist and Rebekkah Brunson didn’t have a rebound, a first for both of them in a Lynx uniform.
So when the starters came out a bit lackluster Wednesday, Reeve wasn’t having it, even hinting at lineup changes. “I’m not a big message sender,” she said. “But, in L.A., when our starters were a no-show and they weren’t there to win, we did go that route. It certainly crossed my mind today that we don’t have the right starting lineup.”
Message or not, this might simply be an attempt to motivate her team which, at 6-2, is still in first place in the WNBA’s Western Conference, a half-game ahead of the Sparks. Reeve talked about how hard Amber Harris worked and how she might deserve more playing time. Rookie guard Sugar Rodgers might, too.
“I have to have a better recognition when I have starters who are not engaged in the game the way they need to be,” Reeve said. “I need to find someone, maybe, who is. That’s where I failed in L.A. As a group, I sat [the starters], whereas I think there were a couple starters there to compete. That being said, we did come back and play a pretty good game against Tulsa. But then to turn around and practice the way we did? Disappointing.”
It appears her players got the message.
“It wasn’t one of our best practices,” Whalen said. “We have to be able to learn and bounce back and keep playing hard.”
Said Augustus: “There is nothing you can do but step up. [Reeve] has never been short on words — on what she expects. Thankfully, we have another day to prepare.’’