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In this May 15, 2013 photo, Phoenix Mercury rookie center Brittney Griner, left, gets the ball from teammate Krystal Thomas during a WNBA team basketball practice in Phoenix.

Ross D. Franklin, Associated Press - Ap

Janel McCarville smiled during a press conference at The Depot in Minneapolis

Kyndell Harkness, Star Tribune

McCarville's latest challenge is guarding Griner

  • Article by: Kent Youngblood
  • Star Tribune
  • June 6, 2013 - 12:05 PM

 

In her first WNBA game in three seasons, Lynx center Janel McCarville was asked to guard Connecticut center Tina Charles, the league’s reigning MVP. And while Charles scored 22 points — and McCarville didn’t take a shot — the feeling was McCarville had done well by impacting the game with her shot-blocking, rebounding and passing.

For Game 2, McCarville gets the assignment of guarding much-heralded Phoenix rookie Brittney Griner.

McCarville, who is recovering from a sprained left ankle and could play a bit more than the 20 minutes she did in the opener, won’t have to handle Griner alone. She will get help in the post. But McCarville and Amber Harris figure to get much of the responsibility on Griner.

So what is the key to containing her?

“You have to make her work for everything she gets,” McCar- ville said. “Obviously, she has the height advantage [6-8 vs. 6-2], but I might be a little stronger than her, able to get her off the block, force her into tough decisions, tough shots.’’

On offense, the idea is to keep Griner moving and make her defend away from the basket.

“She is skilled, she’s big, so we’re just going to try to force her out of the paint,” Harris said. “She’ll get hers eventually, but we’ll try to be as physical as possible.”

Shoot already

McCarville has taken a bit of good-natured grief about not attempting a shot in the opener.

“I think it was a fluke game,” she said. “The fact that I didn’t take a single shot in 20 minutes? That had to be the first time that ever happened, actually, for me. It’s funny. But … we got shots we wanted to get. They were good shots, nobody forced anything. I didn’t need to take a shot.’’

Expect a shot or two soon.

“Hopefully Thursday,” she joked, “if my teammates pass me the ball.”

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