During the offseason, when she got word that the Minnesota Lynx might be part of a four-team WNBA preseason tournament in Orlando, coach Cheryl Reeve was not thrilled. Training camp is already tight, thanks to the World Championships this fall, which has pushed up the league’s start date.
Better to practice at home than do all that traveling, she thought.
But things have changed.
While the team’s starters are set, the Lynx have to figure out who is going to replace top reserves Devereaux Peters and Monica Wright, out following arthroscopic knee procedures. Reeve also needs to get her starters time together in a game situation — minus forward Rebekkah Brunson, who won’t join the team until Monday. And the coach needs to figure out her rotation. Suddenly a trip to Florida doesn’t look so bad.
“At first, you don’t know if you like the idea,” Reeve said. “Then things shake out the way they did for us, and I think it ends up being a really big week.”
On Friday, Chicago will play Indiana at 6 p.m. and the Lynx will play Phoenix at 7:30. The two losers will face each other Sunday morning, the winners that afternoon.
“We need some game action together,” guard Lindsay Whalen said. “Preseason games are all about who is going to show you something.”
For Reeve, giving her top reserves more time is a plus. Rookies Damiris Dantas, Waltiea Rolle and Asya Taylor all played well in a victory over the Australian national team on Monday, but games against WNBA opponents will be better tests.
Dantas, from Brazil, has had a very strong camp and appears to be the top post player off the bench. Veteran guard Tan White will be the top guard off the bench, but she needs time with other Lynx regulars and work at the point.
Besides the starting five, Dantas, White and second-year point guard Lindsey Moore appear locks to make the team. With Peters and Wright recuperating, that leaves only two roster spots open.
The Lynx are still looking for guard Tricia Liston — their first-round pick in the April draft — to show more; her job is not guaranteed. Rolle and Taylor could be competing for one roster spot.
The next two games will settle a lot of questions, and just in time. The team will open the season at Washington on May 16.
“We’re taking this trip seriously,” Seimone Augustus said. “We’re going to build some camaraderie, get the team together and get our chemistry going.”