Kent Youngblood writes about the Minnesota Lynx.

Lynx's preparation begins for Western Conference rival Phoenix

Posted by: Kent Youngblood under People Updated: July 29, 2014 - 2:25 PM

It is a measured approach that Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve is taking regarding Thursday’s showdown with Phoenix looming.

First of all – and my colleague Megan Ryan will have much more on this in Thursday’s paper – the one thing Reeve is clearly doing is not buying into the hype of the game. Yes, it’s between the two best teams in the Western Conference – and, thus, the two best teams in the WNBA. Yes, the Lynx have gone 0-2 vs. Phoenix this season, not having a full roster of healthy players available for either game.

But Reeve is taking the “this is the next, biggest game’’ approach, and she has clearly communicated that mindset to her players.

The Mercury, which has been injury-free all season, is hosting Los Angeles tonight looking to win for the 16th straight time. The league record winning streak is 18. So the Mercury will play tonight, then fly to Minneapolis Wednesday.

The Lynx, meanwhile, won their seventh straight game in Connecticut Sunday. They flew home Monday and had the day off. Today the team didn’t do much on the court; Reeve wanted to give her veterans more time to rest. Instead, the team watched a bunch of film and then the players lifted weights.

Why? Reeve and her players know what they have to do vs. Phoenix. No exotic schemes need to be installed; the two teams know each other very well. It’s just a matter of executing. So the Lynx, with two days off their feet, will get at it in a fairly intense practice Wednesday.

--Tonight, for the sixth consecutive year, the Lynx will head to the rotunda at Mall of America for the “Catwallk for a Cure,’’ which is sponsored by Hope Chest for Breast Cancer. It is an irreverent fashion show in which the players and coaches each model a look for the assembled fans. All proceeds for the event will benefit the Lynx Foundation, which supports breast cancer research and support programs throughout the state.

“This is a time when we get to show our fashion sense, our style, and people get to enjoy it,” Seimone Augustus said. “It’s also a bigger cause.’’

The team has a huge commitment to this cause. A number of the team’s fans – and a bunch of those fans will be there tonight – have dealt with the disease. “To have them there, and show us the way, it inspires us,” Augustus said.

It also has the side benefit of being a great team bonding experience. “We get to laugh at each other, and enjoy making fun of each other with the outfits we put together,” Augustus said.

That’s about it, for now. Have a great rest of your day. 

Moore is player of the week -- again

Posted by: Kent Youngblood under People Updated: July 28, 2014 - 4:13 PM

Yes, you’ve heard this before:

Lynx forward Maya Moore has been named the WNBA’s Western Conference player of the week. It is the third straight week she has gotten the award, the fourth time she’s gotten it this season and the ninth time in her career.

It would have been hard not to give it to Moore after she scored a franchise-record 48 points in Minnesota’s double-overtime victory over Atlanta last week. For the week, in three games (all Lynx victories), Moore averaged 25.7 points, 4.0 assists and 8.3 assists.

Moore’s 48 points was the second-highest single-game total in league history, and it was her 10th game this season with 30 or more points, tying Diana Taurasi (2008) for most such games in a single season. For the season Moore leads the league in scoring (24.3), is eighth in rebounding (8.3) and is tied for fourth in steals (1.9).

Washington Mystics guard Ivory Latta won the award in the Eastern Conference, her first such award this season and the fourth of her career. She scored 20.3 points and 5.3 assists for the Mystics, who went 3-0 last week.

The Lynx had today off, but will return to practice Tuesday to start preparing for Thursday’s showdown with the Phoenix Mercury at Target Center.

It’s interesting to note that 10 player of the week awards have been given out this season. And, in the West, Lynx players have won five of them; Lindsay Whalen won it for Week 2. Indeed, Minnesota and Phoenix have combined to produce eight of the 10 POW awards in the West this season.

Now healthy, Lynx look to finish season strong

Posted by: Kent Youngblood under People Updated: July 25, 2014 - 6:22 PM

Seimone Augustus is going to play tonight for the first time in nine games, and Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve will have her entire roster healthy and available for the first time all season when the Lynx host San Antonio at Target Center.

So what does that mean?

Well, Reeve is looking at the team’s final 10 games as serious playoff prep. That, to her, means two things:

--First of all, defense. More than any other year, Reeve – out of injury-induced necessity – has done more defensive adjusting game-to-game than ever before. You’ll see that again tonight. After packing the paint against Atlanta Tuesday, the Lynx will be defending on the three point line tonight against a Stars team that is tied for first in the league in three-point shooting.

But it’s more than that. Reeve hasn’t been especially happy with the team’s defense this season. She believes stepping it up in that area will only make the offense more potent and the Lynx very difficult to play against.

“I want ‘em to play playoff basketball,” Reeve said of the final 10 games. “And that that means for us is a tenacious approach to out defense, which has been spotty. It has appeared at times, but not enough for me, to my liking. I’m looking for that.”

--And, with the starting five back in business as a complete group, Reeve is now looking for her bench to come together and form a personality of its own.

The top five have played so much together it won’t take long for them to rediscover their chemistry now that Rebekkah Brunson and Augustus is back. But the bench? It has to do more.

“That’s probably more intriguing to me,” Reeve said. “I think it’s more exciting for the first group to be back together. I know the first five will get their thing going. But what our bench looks like is going to be a key.’’

Meanwhile, Seattle’s loss to New York Thursday clinched a playoff spot for the Lynx.

And, tonight the Lynx will be wearing pink uniforms in honor of breast cancer awareness. The game-worn jerseys will be auctioned off following the game.

That’s about it for now. Have a good night.

Augustus probable for Friday's game

Posted by: Kent Youngblood under People Updated: July 24, 2014 - 3:34 PM

Well, it’s almost official.

Seimone Augustus, who missed the last eight games with knee bursitis, took full part in Thursday’s practice and is probable for Friday’s game with San Antonio at Target Center.

“I practiced today, it felt good,” Augustus said. “So we’ll see what happens tomorrow at shootaround.”

With Rebekkah Brunson having her season debut Tuesday, that means today’s practice was the first time coach Cheryl Reeve had her complete starting five on the floor together. She said at one point she almost did a double-take, like she couldn’t believe this day had finally come.

“It’s kind of cool,” Reeve said.

Guess so. With Augustus returning, it will be that much harder for teams to account for all of Minnesota’s weapons. Moore, averaging nearly 30 points per game in July, has gone to another level, and Lindsay Whalen is coming off a season-high 26 points.

Augustus’ return will allow Reeve to put Monica Wright back into a reserve role, which should boost a bench still struggling to score; Lynx reserves managed just eight of the team’s 112 points Tuesday.

That’s about it for now. Have a good day. 

An amazing night for Maya Moore

Posted by: Kent Youngblood under People Updated: July 22, 2014 - 11:17 PM

Well, that was an exciting one.

I’ve been lucky enough to cover some pretty amazing performances through the years. I have to say Maya Moore’s 48-point, 10-rebound, four-assist game ranks right up there. She scored better than a point a minute, set a franchise record and posted the second-highest single-game total in WNBA history. This one was a grind against a very good team. In the end, Moore and Lindsay Whalen played more than 45 minutes. It will take some time to rebound from this one; it’s a good thing the Lynx don’t play again until Friday.

Here are some other impressions from the game:

--What a debut for Rebekkah Brunson. As she said, playing 35½  minutes in her 2014 debut was not in the plans. But Brunson, who had pre-season right knee surgery, was rather amazing, showing no rust. She scored 17 points on 6-for-11 shooting, had 12 rebounds, two assists. It was her three-point play to start the second overtime that gave the Lynx the lead for good.

--I must say, I don’t think I’ve ever seen Whalen as tired as she was after this game. She scored 26 points with nine assists.

--The fall-away jumper Tan White hit right at the shot-clock buzzer with 38.4 seconds left in the second overtime that gave Minnesota a 111-106 lead might have been her biggest shot in a Lynx uniform. White scored all four of her points in the second overtime.

--It’s amazing the Lynx won, considering Atlanta shot 45.2 percent, had three players with 21 or more points, scored 21 points off of 23 Lynx turnovers and scored 50 points in the paint. Thank Maya Moore.

--The Lynx need to get more than the eight points it got from the bench tonight.

That’s about it for now. The Lynx will have Wednesday off, then return to practice Thursday. 


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