The Lynx, on the first day of training camp, are already way ahead of last season.
"We have 14 healthy bodies -- that's a wonderful thing," second-year Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said Sunday.
A year ago, Reeve had a ragtag collection of players at this time. Practices began April 25, and a lot of players were trickling back from Europe, where they often make twice as much money playing basketball as they do in the WNBA.
It got worse: Seimone Augustus had surgery (fibroids in abdomen, hysterectomy) the day before the first practice. And Candice Wiggins, another veteran, had knee surgery on the third day of camp.
Lindsay Whalen, since-traded Nicky Anosike and Charde Houston all missed at least the first week of camp. Rebekkah Brunson missed the first four games. All were key players.
A promising season ended in typical Lynx fashion: They missed the playoffs for the sixth year in a row.
In 2011, expectations for the Lynx are even higher at a time when the pro teams in the Twin Cities and Gophers teams in the major sports all seem to be struggling.
"We have an air of confidence about us," Reeve said. "We know how talented we are. We know if we work hard, we execute and we compete, the W's will take care of themselves."
Forward Maya Moore, drafted No. 1 overall out of Connecticut, and 6-5 center Amber Harris, picked No. 4 from Xavier, are two reasons Reeve is so excited.
"With Maya and with Amber, their eyes were big a lot [Sunday]. Head spinning a little bit," Reeve said. "That's what the veterans want. You don't want the rookies to come in here and have success on the first day. That certainly didn't happen today.
"Maya more than anything is just a great sponge, and she will come back tomorrow and be very determined to be better [Monday] that she was [the first day]."
Moore stayed after practice, shooting 15-foot bank shots from the wings and three-pointers from everywhere.
Who will start?
Reeve said the Lynx have at least seven players who could start in the WNBA and a decision on starters is several weeks away. "We will look heavily at who plays well together," Reeve said.
Three players appear to be shoo-ins to be on the floor for the opening tap: Brunson at power forward, Augustus at small forward and Whalen at point guard. Here is a position-by-position look:
• Center: Taj McWilliams-Franklin, 40, probably will be the starter early in the season. Harris, 3 inches taller at 6-5, could challenge the veteran later as Harris learns more about the pro game.
• Power forward: Brunson. Harris will back up here, too.
• Small forward: Augustus. Moore will be one of the first players off the bench and should play starter's minutes. She can play either forward spot.
• Shooting guard: Monica Wright, a second-year player, could start if Wiggins comes off the bench. Wiggins was the Sixth Player of the Year as a rookie in 2009. She knows how to provide a spark quickly.
• Point guard: Whalen played like an All-Star the second half of last season after struggling with her outside shooting the first half.
Moore down to business
"It went pretty well," Moore said after her first practice as a pro. "We got in a lot. A lot of offense. Just getting the flow. Getting a feel for each other and the coaches. It was a very productive day."
Moore, being unhappy with her free-throw shooting, was the rookie to get water for everyone at the first break.
"It's time to get to work," Moore said. "It's time to get back on the court and play the game I love and that all of us love. It's a great time of year."