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."




Buffalo 12/28/14 12:00 PM
New England
Cleveland 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Dallas 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville 12/28/14 12:00 PM
San Diego 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
NY Jets 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Chicago 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia 12/28/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
New Orleans 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Carolina 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Detroit 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Oakland 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Arizona 12/28/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
St. Louis 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Cincinnati 12/28/14 7:30 PM
Toronto 2:30 PM
LA Clippers
Boston 6:00 PM
Orlando 6:00 PM
Memphis 6:30 PM
Indiana 7:00 PM
New Orleans 7:00 PM
Atlanta 7:30 PM
Philadelphia 8:00 PM
New York 9:00 PM
Minnesota 9:30 PM
Golden State
NY Islanders 6:00 PM
Detroit 6:00 PM
Carolina 6:00 PM
Tampa Bay
New Jersey 6:00 PM
NY Rangers
Boston 6:00 PM
Winnipeg 6:00 PM
Washington 6:30 PM
Dallas 7:00 PM
St. Louis
Philadelphia 7:00 PM
Anaheim 7:00 PM
Chicago 8:00 PM
Edmonton 9:00 PM
San Jose 9:00 PM
Los Angeles
Indiana 56 2nd Half 7:16
Georgetown 58
Maine 43 2nd Half 2:01
Seton Hall 68
UNC-Wilmington 31 1st Half 2:38
Minnesota 42
Georgia State 33 1st Half 1:52
Green Bay 31
Jacksonville St 1:00 PM
Kentucky 1:00 PM
Northern Ky 2:00 PM
UAB 3:00 PM
North Carolina
Santa Clara 3:00 PM
St Marys-CA
Oakland 4:00 PM
Gonzaga 5:00 PM
Mercer 5:00 PM
San Francisco 5:00 PM
Wright State 6:00 PM
Ohio State
Presbyterian 6:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Brescia 7:00 PM
Western Ky
Tennessee St 7:30 PM
Kennesaw St 8:00 PM
Colorado State 8:00 PM
New Mexico St
Portland 8:00 PM
San Diego
Wayland Baptist 8:05 PM
Utah State
Bristol University 8:05 PM
Weber State
Sacramento St 8:05 PM
Utah Valley U
Southern Utah 9:00 PM
SD Christian 9:00 PM
San Diego St
Illinois 18 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 35
Rutgers 40 FINAL
North Carolina 21
NC State 34 FINAL
UCF 27
Cincinnati 7 1st Qtr 2:23
Virginia Tech 7
(15) Arizona State 1:10 PM
Miami-Florida 2:30 PM
So Carolina
Boston College 3:30 PM
Penn State
(25) Nebraska 7:00 PM
(24) USC
Texas A&M 12/29/14 1:00 PM
West Virginia
Oklahoma 12/29/14 4:30 PM
(18) Clemson
Arkansas 12/29/14 8:00 PM
Notre Dame 12/30/14 2:00 PM
(22) LSU
(13) Georgia 12/30/14 5:45 PM
(20) Louisville
Maryland 12/30/14 9:00 PM
(9) Ole Miss 12/31/14 11:30 AM
(6) TCU
(21) Boise State 12/31/14 3:00 PM
(12) Arizona
(8) Miss State 12/31/14 7:00 PM
(10) Georgia Tech
(19) Auburn 1/1/15 11:00 AM
(17) Wisconsin
(7) Michigan State 1/1/15 11:30 AM
(4) Baylor
(16) Missouri 1/1/15 12:00 PM
(2) Florida State 1/1/15 4:00 PM
(3) Oregon
(5) Ohio State 1/1/15 7:30 PM
(1) Alabama
Houston 1/2/15 11:00 AM
Iowa 1/2/15 2:20 PM
(11) Kansas State 1/2/15 5:45 PM
(14) UCLA
Washington 1/2/15 9:15 PM
Oklahoma State
SMU 9 1st Half 4:25
(2) Connecticut 39
UCF 2:00 PM
BYU 4:00 PM
Pacific 4:00 PM
San Francisco
St Marys-CA 4:00 PM
Santa Clara
San Diego 7:00 PM


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