Having arrived stateside only two days earlier, Rebekkah Brunson still was fighting jet lag Thursday evening. “I was in my apartment, super groggy and ready to go to bed,” the Lynx forward said. “Hopefully, I’ll feel better [Friday] night.”
Brunson will get the ultimate wake-up call Saturday when the Lynx open the season vs. archrival Phoenix in a game televised on ESPN. Friday, she declared herself ready to go after her first — and only — practice since returning from Europe. Coach Cheryl Reeve agreed, saying Brunson “absolutely will start” in the opener at Target Center.
The three-time WNBA All-Star had a superb season for Ragusa in Italy’s Serie A1 league, averaging 15.9 points and 11.3 rebounds while leading her team to the playoff semifinals. Perhaps most important, Brunson did not overtax herself. She chose Ragusa in part because she played only one game per week, allowing her to remain healthy and strong for the WNBA season.
Friday, Brunson said she felt good, which seemed evident from the enthusiasm in her voice. Despite the jet lag — which she said usually lingers for three or four days — she expects a smooth and speedy reintegration as she starts her seventh year with the Lynx.
“I think I’m ready,” said Brunson, 34. “I’m familiar with everybody, so you don’t have to really work through that. And the upside is you don’t have much time to think about it. You just come out and you play.
“I’m absolutely excited to be here. I know everybody’s excited for the season to begin, and everybody’s excited for the possibilities that we have.”
Reeve, who called Brunson one of the most underappreciated players in the league, expects her to reacclimate quickly and said the forward was “locked in” during Friday’s practice.
GMs pick Phoenix
Though the Lynx are the defending WNBA champions, the league’s general managers predicted Phoenix will win the title this season. In a poll released Friday, seven of 12 GMs picked the Mercury, and two picked the Lynx.
Reeve called that vote — and the GMs’ selection of the Mercury’s Diana Taurasi as the league’s best guard, best leader, best pure shooter and toughest player — a “loud message.” The Lynx, who had been the GMs’ choice in each of the past four seasons, will play Phoenix three times in the season’s first eight games.
“Whatever motivation people want to give us, we’ll take,” Lynx forward Maya Moore said. “Our rivalry with Phoenix is great. It’s one of the most fun rivalries to watch in pro sports, just because both teams are very good at what we do. It’s going to be a fun game [Saturday].”