Perhaps it’s because Maya Moore, entering her third season, is ready to up the ante as a vocal leader for the Lynx. Maybe she felt it was up to her, with Lindsay Whalen home sick and Seimone Augustus and Rebekkah Brunson not yet here.
In any event, Moore wanted to make sure the Lynx training camp began on the right note. So, before the first practice Sunday, she set the tone by talking to the team.
“She said she had a sour taste in her mouth,” Janel McCarville said. “And that she was ready to get rid of it, basically.”
McCarville, acquired during the offseason in a trade, is one of several new faces on the Lynx training camp roster. But she knew right away what Moore was talking about. Last season, as defending WNBA champions, the Lynx streaked to a 27-7 record and returned to the finals, only to lose to Indiana three games to one.
A year ago the Lynx were looking for a repeat. This year? Anything but.
Moore passed on that message.
“We need to do a little bit more,” Moore said. “So that’s what this year is about, doing a little bit more. To be the best team in the league all year and not take care of what we need to in the finals? This is not to take anything away from [Indiana]. They played really well. But, for some reason, we couldn’t put it together. We have to take that emotion, that feeling, and put it into pushing us.”
Sunday’s first practice was more about teaching than pushing. With so many new faces — McCarville, draftees Lindsey Moore, Sugar Rodgers and Janeesa Jeffery, undrafted free agent Shawnice Wilson and signees Rachel Jarry and Jacki Gemelos — coach Cheryl Reeve spent more time installing plays than pushing the pace. There will be time for that later.
But Reeve certainly appreciated Moore taking time to set the tone for camp.
“It still lingers,” Reeve said of last year’s loss in the finals. “But at what point do you try to put it away? That’s usually around January, when we start looking at personnel decisions and everything. But I have to tell you, getting everybody back and starting again? It’s like Maya said. We have a bad taste in our mouths.”
And that is a good thing, a chip on the team’s collective shoulder Moore feels will pay off.
“It’s absolutely a motivating factor,” Moore said.
McCarville noticed. “Obviously last season didn’t end the way they wanted it to last year,” she said. “They all had higher expectations. I think it didn’t sit well with them for the whole time they were not with the team. Maya made a point to say things are going to be different this year.”
The rest of the workout was geared toward getting the rookies up to speed and getting everybody on the same page.
Early impressions? Reeve hasn’t seen enough of the rookies yet to form an opinion, though she noted Moore looked very good in pick-and-roll situations.
Moore, meanwhile, noticed right away how McCarville will help the team, especially with her passing ability.
“She is very skilled,” Moore said. “Her passing ability is what I’m most excited about. Because I love to move without the ball. Having that connection with somebody like her is going to be huge. I’m going to try to get her a lot of assists.”