Roman Augustoviz spends Minnesota's winters covering college hockey, specifically the Gophers, and other University of Minnesota sports. During the summer, he writes about the WNBA's Minnesota Lynx, with a dose of U sports sprinkled in. Follow him on Twitter @RomanStrib.

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Slowing Toliver, which Lynx did in Game 1, can slow L.A.

Posted by: Roman Augustoviz under Lynx Updated: October 7, 2012 - 2:03 PM

"L.A. is not in the position they are in without the play of Krtisti Toliver," Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said before her team began the best-of-three Western Conference Finals with the Los Angeles Sparks.

"Anytime you have a guard that can shoot as high of a percentage as she shot, in every zone that there is, she was really efficient. So that helps things for [Candace] Parker. There is less pressure on her. It gets your defense spread out because you are very concerned about where [Toliver] is.

"And the thing that is most overlooked about Kristi Toliver, because she shoots the three so well is that she gets to the foul line the most on the team at 5-6. It is a very challenging situation with her."

The Lynx, of course, handled Toliver quite well on Thursday

She had 12 points in L.A.'s 84-77 loss to the Lynx at Target Center, but 10 came in the fourth quarter when the Sparks trailed big. 

Toliver was four of nine from the floor, missed her only two three-point shot attempts, and was four of five on free throw attempts. She had only one assist and three turnovers. She averaged just over 17 points during the regular season and increased that average  to 26 points in the Sparks'  two-game sweep of San Antonio in the first playoff round.

If Toliver struggles again today, the Lynx should beat the Sparks  when they meet at 2:30 p.m. today at Staples Center in Game 2. L.A. was 16-1 on its floor during the regular season.

But Reeve is worried about more than Toliver.

"Their starting five is really, really good," Reeve said before Game 1. "[It]  accounts for 70 of their points night in and night out. We have been unable up to this point to shave too many points off their starting group. That's our goal. We have to make their starters earn things and to make their bench be more of a factor for them and see what they can do."

Last Thursday, Parker had 25 points and Alana Beard 16, but forwards Nneka Ogwumike and DeLisha-Milton Jones had six and three, respectively. So L.A.'s starters had 66 points. A little under their usual of 70.

Reeve said first-year L.A. coach Carol Ross has done a great job with the Sparks. "Look where they were before," she said. "Offensively, really getting a lot out of players. Getting [Nneka] Ogwumike helps Carol Ross be a better coach just like adding Maya Moore made me a better coach.It helps all of us when you get those kind of players.But Carol Ross [a former Atlanta Dream assistant] has done a great job like we all expected her to."


L.A. center Candace Parker on Ross: "Hiring her was definitely a key for this team. She is a great coach. I enjoy playing for her. She makes the game a lot of fun. She has turned up our energy level a lot. She is very knowledgeable about the game and specifically on the defensive end.

"And what is so special is, she listens to us. When we are on the floor, we get a feel, and she listens to what we have to say. Sometimes she takes our suggestions and sometimes she tells us a better way we can do things."

On Lynx center Taj McWilliams-Franklin, who will be 42 in 13 days: "People underestimate how much experience matters. Taj has been in this league for a long time [this is her 14th season] and has really found her niche in Minnesota because she is able to have leadership and play. She is not going to be the one that averages 30, but she is going to get that crucial rebound [or] to find somebody. She is a great passing big. Playing against her, you can learn a lot from watching her play.  And it makes it a tough matchup."

On being in playoffs after three seasons interrupted by having a baby and injuries: "I have been sitting on the sidelines so long. Watching all-star games, watching playoffs. Watching other people do things on the court. It's fun to be on the court when everything matters. 

"I used to get yelled by Pat [Summitt at Tennessee] a lot. She would tell me that I needed to be more focused during the regular season. But during the postseason, she always knew that I was going to be about business. So she would always tell me that if I could get you this focused for the regular-season games, we would have the No. 1 seed overall in the tournament. It's fun to play in the postseason when the lights are on and when it is a lot of pressure."




Kansas City - WP: J. Guthrie 3 FINAL
San Francisco - LP: T. Hudson 2
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Washington 10/27/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans 10/30/14 7:25 PM
Dallas 117 FINAL
Orlando 92
New York 80 FINAL
Toronto 83
San Antonio 87 FINAL
Houston 96
Miami 104 FINAL
Memphis 98
Minnesota 113 FINAL
Chicago 112
Phoenix 105 FINAL
Utah 100
Sacramento 93 FINAL
LA Lakers 92
Denver 112 FINAL
Golden State 119
Portland 99 FINAL
LA Clippers 89
Dallas 3 FINAL(SO)
New Jersey 2
Tampa Bay 4 FINAL
Winnipeg 2
Vancouver 3 FINAL
Colorado 7
Carolina 3 FINAL
Edmonton 6
Columbus 1 FINAL
Anaheim 4
Connecticut 21 FINAL
(18) East Carolina 31
Miami-Florida 30 FINAL
Virginia Tech 6
So Florida 17 FINAL
Cincinnati 34
Troy 13 FINAL
South Alabama 27
Boise State 55
(6) Oregon 59 FINAL
California 41
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
(2) Florida State 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Troy 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
Cincinnati 10/31/14 7:00 PM
Tulsa 10/31/14 7:00 PM
Purdue 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
(17) Oklahoma 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Iowa State
Oklahoma State 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
(10) TCU 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(22) West Virginia
Texas 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Texas Tech
Northwestern 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Maryland 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Penn State
Houston 1 FINAL
Chicago 2
Montreal 23 FINAL
Ottawa 17
Saskatchewan 27 FINAL
Calgary 40
Hamilton 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Brt Columbia 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton 10/31/14 6:30 PM
Winnipeg 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Brt Columbia 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Toronto 11/2/14 11:00 AM


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