What a difference a season makes. Last year the Lynx were both talented and lucky, never losing any key player for any significant amount of time. Seimone Augustus missed three games with an ankle injury, Janel McCarville two games with a concussion. Rebekkah Brunson missed a single game.
The news that Brunson had surgery Tuesday morning to repair an issue in her right knee and would be out at least two months means the Lynx will begin their defense of the 2012 WNBA title with three of the team's top seven players on the mend from knee surgeries.
"For the players, especially the veterans, it's 'All right, man down, we have to man up.' '' coach Cheryl Reeve said. "We all have to do a little more."
There is a lot more to do. Brunson was the team's shut-down defender in the post. Last season, her 10th in the league, Brunson averaged 10.6 points and a team-high 8.9 rebounds per game. She also tied her own single-season record with 12 double-doubles while earning an All Star Game berth.
Reeve said the surgery was to repair tendinosis, a condition in her right knee Brunson has been dealing with for a while. "Last year she had an MRI for the same thing," Reeve said. "But it was, at the time, maybe 25 percent tendinosis. Obviously, as time wore on, you keep playing, it gets worse. It got to the point where they recommended surgery... She's in a lot of pain right now. So, take care of it now, and have an eye towards getting her back later in the season."
If she misses more than eight weeks, Brunson would miss at least 20 of the Lynx's 34 regular season games. Top reserve guard Monica Wright and top reserve forward Devereaux Peters are each recovering from knee scopes of their own and are expected to miss at least the first six games of the season.
That means rookies Damiris Dantas and Asia Taylor will have to play more minutes than expected. And the rest of the four starter will all have to do more.
"It's the life of a women's basketball player, with all the wear and tear that comes form playing year-around," Augustus said. "Someone has to step up. That's [a lot] of rebounds a game we're going to be missing out on. That's energy, that's hustle, that's our defensive anchor. Someone might have to have three or four more rebounds. Someone might have to take the tough defensive assignment in the post. It will be a total team effort."
Meanwhile, with rookie Christina Foggie waived Tuesday morning, the Lynx have to make at least one more roster move by Thursday. It appears rookie center Waltiea Rolle and rookie shooting guard Tricia Liston are vying for the final roster spot, with Liston perhaps holding a slight edge.