Sitting at her locker, Lynx forward Damiris Dantas practically grimaced at the thought, rose and tried to walk away.
Sylvia Fowles was having none of it.
Fowles pulled Dantas back to her chair. “C’mon, we talk all the time,’’ Fowles said. “It’s like you’re talking to me.’’
Dantas is the Lynx’s starting power forward. A native of Brazil, she appears shy by nature to begin with. Toss in the fact she’s not totally confident in her English, and the result is a key Lynx player who treats the thought of an interview with something less than enthusiasm.
But Fowles insisted.
Dantas had just scored 17 points in Minnesota’s much-needed victory over Dallas on Thursday. She had made three of five three-pointers and dished out a career-high eight assists. Oh, and provided help defense on Dallas star rookie Arike Ogunbowale, which Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve lauded.
So, what about that?
“Play together, stick together, play defense,’’ Dantas said. “Coach talked to me today a lot about defense. I focused there. I think I did good.’’
That was it. Speak softly but carry a bit impact.
Dantas started her career with the Lynx, but was traded to Atlanta in the three-team deal that brought Fowles to Minnesota after the All-Star break in 2015.
Re-signed during the offseason, Dantas has proven a key cog in a Lynx team that hopes to make the playoff for a ninth consecutive season. Currently the team’s magic number is two, which means any combination of Lynx wins or losses by Indiana that equals two would put the Lynx in.
Dantas does not stand out as a dominant player. She is fourth on the team in scoring (8.7 points per game), third among currently active players in rebounds (4.2). But she is tied with Lexie Brown on in three-point shooting percentage (39.8) and is second on the team in three-pointers made.
And Dantas is a natural passer. She is averaging 2.9 assists per game, which would rank second all-time by a Lynx post player, behind only Janel McCarville.
There is a reason the Lynx offense works better when Dantas is healthy — she has missed eight games with a calf injury — and on her game.
“It’s an instinct,’’ Reeve said. “And that was from Day 1. Being able to have a power forward who can pass is important. That time without Damiris, it was a grind on offense.’’
Reeve noticed it right away in 2014, early in training camp – Dantas’ first. Most of the Lynx regulars were still playing overseas. Maya Moore was the only starter there. In the first week Reeve said she could see that Moore and Dantas were the two best players in the group. It was a difficult but a necessary decision to trade her away to get Fowles. But Reeve was quick to sign Dantas to an offer sheet this spring, one Atlanta declined to match.
When Dantas is playing, it allows rookie Napheesa Collier to play small forward, her best position. And Dantas’ three-point shooting –—something vital Sunday vs. Las Vegas — spaces the Lynx offense.
That said, there is room to grow. Dantas fouls too much and needs to rebound better.
If she does all that, she’ll find it difficult to avoid postgame interviews.