Lynx pick Duke sharpshooter with their No. 1 draft pick

  • Article by: KENT YOUNGBLOOD , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 15, 2014 - 7:00 AM

Blue Devils guard Tricia Liston was one of the most accurate shooters in the country this season.

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Tricia Liston averaged 17.1 points per game as a senior and is Duke’s career leader in three-point shooting.

Photo: File photo by Ted Richardson • Associated Press,

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The current roster allowed the Lynx to draft for the future. But the way the first round of the WNBA draft fell Monday in Uncasville, Conn., prompted the Lynx to think of the present.

The result was a four-player draft that executive Vice President Roger Griffith called “blue-collar:” a sharp-shooting guard/forward in Duke’s Tricia Liston; a true low-post center in West Virgina’s Asya Bussie; high-scoring Vanderbilt guard Christina Foggie; and Louisville forward Asia Taylor.

“We got four very hard workers, four very solid basketball players to come into training camp and compete for various spots,” Griffith said.

Griffith and coach Cheryl Reeve — who took part in the draft via Skype while recovering from recent back surgery — were willing to use their 12th overall pick on the future with their top eight players intact. But Monday’s events changed that plan. Notre Dame post player Natalie Achonwa — who won’t play this season due to a knee injury — was taken by Indiana at No. 9, and another player the team liked, Markeisha Gatling of North Carolina State — was taken by Chicago at No. 10.

So the strategy shifted.

In Liston the Lynx get a versatile player who was one of the best shooters in the nation this past season.

“It’s awesome,” Liston said of being taken by the Lynx. “I know I have a lot of work to do. I’ll be playing against the best competition. That’s what excites me the most.”

Griffith said Liston would be tried at both forward positions, but she will likely compete for the wing position filled by Rachel Jarry last year. Jarry sustained a knee injury over the winter and is not expected back.

Liston comes to the WNBA with a sweet jump shot taught to her by her father, Brian, who played college ball at Loyola and coached all four of his daughters.

“That was my dad,” said Liston, the youngest daughter, about where she learned her jump shot. “When I was a kid, I always had the right form. I never did that two-handed push. I think from the beginning I had the mechanics. It was just a matter of putting in the time and the practice.”

WNBA training camps open on April 27.

“It makes things very interesting,” Griffith said. “There aren’t enough roster spots for them to go around. So we would anticipate a very interesting competition for those last two, three, four spots on the roster.”

Busy night for Sun

Minutes after taking Stanford’s Chiney Ogwumike with the top pick, the Connecticut Sun made a blockbuster deal to trade 2012 MVP Tina Charles to the New York Liberty.

The Sun acquired the Liberty’s fourth pick this year, which turned out to be Maryland’s Alyssa Thomas, as well as Kelsey Bone and a first-round pick next year. Charles had told the Sun that if she wasn’t traded she’d sit out this year.

“We’re not going to be held hostage by anybody,” Sun vice president and general manager Chris Sienko said.

Ogwumike joined her sister Nneka, drafted by Los Angeles in 2012, as the only siblings to be chosen first in the WNBA. Odyssey Sims of Baylor went second to Tulsa, and San Antonio took Notre Dame’s Kayla McBride with the third pick.

 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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