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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Injuries taking heavy toll in WNBA; Lynx mostly spared

Posted by: Roman Augustoviz under Lynx Updated: June 20, 2012 - 7:12 PM

Key injuries seem to be crippling almost every team in the WNBA this season.

Just look at a list of the league's top scorers:

Phoenix guard Diana Taurasi, who has led the league in scoring the past four seasons, has only played two games because of a hip flexor.

Atlanta's mercurial Angel McCoughtry missed the Dream's past two games with a knee injury. She is the league's leading scorer, averaging 22.7 point.

Second is Chicago guard Epiphanny Prince at 22.3 points. She is out six to eight weeks with a fractured right foot. She was injured last Saturday.

And the list goes on. New York forward Plenette Pierson is hurting (right leg). She sat out Tuesday's game when the Liberty won at Atlanta. ... Los Angeles, San Antonio and Tulsa are among other teams who have players out with injuries.

"What everybody always points to is the idea that these players play year round, and fatigue sets in," Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said after Tuesday's practice. "I am not sure you can attribute that to every injury.

"There are injuries whether you are only playing two months or 12 months, but I certainly think some of them have to be attributed to the body fatigue."

Guard Seimone Augustus, the Lynx' leading scorer at 17 points per game, recently missed two games with a strained right quad before coming back for the past two games.

Reeve said the quad is fine now, but she has a little discomfort in her left knee.

"This is a player in her sixth or seventh year, that's year-round play," Reeve said. "The mental drain is now seeping in a little bit but, in the end, nobody is going to feel sorry for Seimone Augustus.

"And nobody is going to feel sorry for the Minnesota Lynx. We have to find a way to fight through it," Reeve said. "We are going to hurt every day, these guys -- half the team walks out of here [the training room after practice and games] with ice bags every direction. They are sore and they are swollen and it is a fact of life, and you’ve got to deal with it.

"The players that focus more on it, it causes more problems for them. The ones that are a little bit older, they understand that this is going to ache, this is going to happen and I am going to put it over there. And then after practice, I will take care of it."

Besides Augustus, the only other Lynx player who has missed a game this season is second-year post Amber Harris. She missed the first three games with a sprained left ankle.  So the Lynx have been fortunate health-wise.

MORE REST IS BEST

At the start of the WNBA season, Reeve said she would not change her coaching strategy this season because of the Olympics.

“When this thing started out my answer was no," she said on Tuesday. "We are going to go about it, we are going to do our thing, we’ve got to win our games. As we now have moved through, we had a really fast start [10-1] to our season and I have tired players already."

The Lynx played nine games over a 20-day stretch, winning all of them, before their first long break. They had five days off last week before splitting two road games last weekend.

"And so now, assessing where we are at, I will be more mindful of trying to find opportunities to rest," Reeve said. "Maybe skipping a shootaround here or there. Maybe dialing it back in practice here or there and keeping an eye on those three in particular."

Those three are the Lynx's Olympians: guards Augustus and Lindsay Whalen and forward Maya Moore.

Augustus missed the team's eighth and ninth games with a strained right quad.

Here is where the Lynx five starters rank in terms of minutes played -- all are in the top 40 in the league:

Seimone Augustus ... 25th in the league in minutes, 28.6 ... that's a career low so far, down from 29.3 last season

Maya Moore ... 29th, 28.0 ... same as last year

Rebekkah Brunson .... 31st, 27.5 ... nearly same as 27.6 last season

Taj McWilliams-Franklin .... 34th, 26.8 ... almost two minutes (28.4) fewer than last season when Mama Taj was only 40

Lindsay Whalen ... 40th, 26.1... exactly two minutes (28.1) fewer than last season and near her career low (26.0) in 2006

CHASING ANOTHER RECORD

The franchise record for home victories in a row for the Lynx is nine. They take a six-game home winning streak into Thursday's game with the New York Liberty at Target Center and then play two more home games in the next six days.

Here are the Lynx's longest winning streaks at home:

Nine, July 16-Aug. 30, 2011

Seven, July 8-Aug. 4, 2003

Six, four different times, including current streak, Sept. 9, 2011 to June 6, 2012

 

 

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