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Washington coach Mike Thibault and son Eric will miss Friday's game

The Washington Mystics flew to the Twin Cities Thursday afternoon. But it will be a short-handed group that will come to Xcel Energy Center for Friday’s game with the Lynx.

Washington head coach Mike Thibault and his son – and Mystics assistant – Eric Thibault will miss the game to attend the death of Mike’s father -- and Eric's grandfather -- Frank.

There are connections between Mike Thibault and the Lynx. Minnesota coach Cheryl Reeve and the Mystics head coach are good friends, and have been in contact. Lynx guard Lindsay Whalen began her career playing for Thibault in Connecticut.

“I messaged with Mike, shared condolence with him,’’ Reeve said after Thursday’s practice. “When the time comes it’s never easy. It’s a tough thing to go through, and for the team to be without two staff members.’’

The Mystics will be coached by Marianna Stanley, whose long resume began as head coach of the Old Dominion women’s team in 1977. She has been a head coach in both college and the pros.

WNBA coaching staffs are limited in size, which means Stanley will likely be the only coach on the bench for the Mystics tomorrow.

“I don’t know how many teams can say it has two legends on the bench,’’ Reeve said, referring to Thibault and Stanley. So it’s another legend stepping in. I told our players this, too. You pull together in times like these, too. So I’m sure the [Washington] players will take on a little bit more. We’re well aware of that.’’

"We're very sad for coach and his family,'' Washington guard Ivory Latta said on a WNBA conference call Thursday. "We're keeping them in our prayers. We have to have everybody do a little more. We have to stay focused and do the things we know how to do.''

-- The lynx have had the better part of a week to work out the kinks – and the frustrations – of last Sunday’s home loss to Connecticut at Xcel Energy Center.

Statistically, it was a rare loss. It was just the third time since 2011 that the Lynx have shot better than 50 percent and lost. Indeed, Minnesota is 68-3 in such games since 2011. Sunday the Lynx were also 7-for-16 on three-pointers.

So, clearly, atop the agenda for things to work on this week was defense. “We cleaned things up,’’ Reeve said of her team, which allowed the Sun to score 98 points on 55.4-percent shooting, both season highs by a Lynx opponent. “We had let things slip a bit,’’ Reeve said. “We plugged a few holes.’’

Last summer the Lynx set a league record by starting the season 13-0. But that was followed by a three-game losing streak. In 2012 the team started 10-0, lost, but won two straight. In 2014 a 7-0 start was followed by a stretch in which the Lynx lost two of three games.We'll see how the Lynx respond after their 9-0 start to this season ended with Sunday's loss.

--Both Reeve and Maya Moore applauded the WNBA’s decision to bring the three-point shooting contest back to the All-Star game, something that has been missing of late.

“It’s a no-brainer, right?” Reeve said. “We have some really good shooters in our league. It’s a fun thing. Especially if you look at the evolution of the league and how important the three-ball is.’’

The contest will take part at halftime of the July 22 game in Seattle.

“The three-ball is something the basketball world is fascinated with,’’ Moore said. “It should be a fun little addition to the weekend. I’m interested.’’ 

Lynx hold intense practice after being outplayed in first loss of season

In the wake of the team’s first loss of the season – and, perhaps, because of the way the Lynx lost to Connecticut at Xcel Energy Center Saturday night – coach Cheryl Reeve tweaked her team’s schedule a little bit.

Normally, with so many days before the next game – the Lynx host a very good Washington team Friday night – the team would have gotten both Sunday and Monday off before returning to practice on Tuesday.

But Reeve had her team in for a rather intense practice Monday. The team will practice again Tuesday, take Wednesday off, then practice Thursday.

“Sitting around for two days stewing about it for a couple days before you practice is no good,’’ Lynx said. “We thought mixing it up would be a good thing.’’

Saturday the Lynx shot 51.4 percent, made seven of 16 three-pointers, scored 93 points.

And lost.

That’s because Minnesota’s defense struggled all night with Connecticut’s pick and roll game. Reeve said what the Sun did wasn’t a surprise. But Connecticut's effectiveness, frankly, was. Especially the pick and roll game with guard Jasmine Thomas and forward Alyssa Thomas. The two combined to score 40 points on 17-for-31 shooting, with 14 rebounds, 14 assists and three steals.

“They did a good job,’’ Reeve said. “Jasmine got our post players too far away from Alyssa, and we couldn’t get back. We weren’t rotating behind it very well, and really – whether it was that play or other plays – we just didn’t get there. If we did help, we weren’t helping the helper. [The Sun] is playing well, and we needed a really strong defensive effort to slow them down. And we were below average defensively.’’

As a result the Sun scored 98 points on 55.4 percent shooting, making 10 of 22 three-pointers, out-rebounding the Lynx 36-21 and blocking nine Lynx shots.

The good news is Reeve said Monday’s practice was a very good, productive one. “This is a mature group, and lot of them spoke about the competitive practice we had, cleaning some things up,’’ Reeve said. “They felt it was good to get back out together and grind together, get some emotions out.’’

There were other problems. For all their points, the Lynx didn’t do a good job of getting the ball to center Sylvia Fowles in good positions, something the Minnesota guards have done well all season. Fowles took a season-low nine shots and tied season lows with 12 points and seven rebounds.

Connecticut’s 6-6 center Jonquel Jones finished with 16 points, eight rebounds and four blocks. Jones fronted Fowles a lot, something the Lynx are usually able to take advantage of.

“One of the reasons Syl has been so successful is that we’ve given it to her on time and on target,’’ Reeve said. “That didn’t happen in most cases [Saturday]. I felt we gave her some terrible passes. We’re lobbing the ball from half court over a 6-6 player. Syl likes to be fronted, it’s OK with her. She carves out space and works you up the lane. But you can’t lob it from half court. We had great recognition at times when we played from the weak side of the floor and threw it in to her. When we did that, she caught it and scored. But we didn’t do it consistently enough. And it wasn’t her best game, in terms of demanding the ball. I think she let other parts of the game that we were frustrated with get in her head. She never got to the place where she could be dominant.’’

Both the Lynx and the Washington Mystics are in the same boat. Washington lost at home to Dallas Sunday, 87-83, in a game the Mystics led 66-59 entering the fourth quarter. Washington currently has the league’s third-best record (7-4), but are 7-3 when star Elena Delle Donne plays; she missed the Mystics’ loss to the Lynx in Washington June 9 due to injury. 

TV Listings

Local Schedule

< >
  • Chicago White Sox at Twins

    12:10 pm on MLBN, 96.3-FM

  • Canterbury Park live racing

    6:30 pm

  • Winnipeg at Saints

    7:05 pm on 1220-AM

  • Twins at Cleveland

    6:10 pm on FSN, 96.3-FM

  • Canterbury Park live racing

    6:30 pm

  • Washington at Lynx

    7 pm on ESPN2, 106.1-FM

  • Winnipeg at Saints

    7:05 pm on 1220-AM

  • Canterbury Park live racing

    12:45 pm

  • Twins at Cleveland

    3:10 pm on FSN, 96.3-FM

  • Vancouver at Minnesota United FC

    7 pm on Ch. 29, 1500-AM

  • Winnipeg at Saints

    7:05 pm on 106.1-FM

  • Twins at Cleveland

    12:10 pm on FSN, 96.3-FM

  • Canterbury Park live racing

    12:45 pm

  • Winnipeg at Saints

    5:05 pm on 1220-AM

  • San Antonio at Lynx

    6 pm on FSN, 106.1-FM

  • Twins at Boston

    6:10 pm on FSN, 96.3-FM

  • Twins at Boston

    6:10 pm on FSN, 96.3-FM

  • Sioux City at Saints

    7:05 pm on 1220-AM

  • Twins at Boston

    6:10 pm on FSN, 96.3-FM

  • Sioux City at Saints

    7:05 pm on 1220-AM

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