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.
The Lynx announced its preseason schedule today. The WNBA team will play Washington in Bismarck, N.D., on May 18 and meet Connecticut at Target Center on May 21.
Here is the team's release:
MINNEAPOLIS/ST. PAUL – The Minnesota Lynx today announced the team’s preseason schedule for its 15th season of professional women’s basketball in Minnesota. To prepare for the 2013 WNBA season, the Lynx will play two exhibition games, including making a trip to the Bismarck Civic Center to face off with Washington on May 18 at 7 p.m. The Lynx will wrap up their preseason schedule with a preseason game at Target Center on May 21 against the Connecticut Sun at 12 p.m.
“We’re very excited for this season’s preseason schedule,” said Timberwolves and Lynx President Chris Wright. “With interest in the Lynx at an all-time high, we’re looking forward to hosting a preseason game at Target Center as well as expanding the WNBA brand into North Dakota with a game at the Bismarck Civic Center. It’s a great opportunity to expose a new group of fans to our phenomenal product and the excitement of Lynx basketball.”
Minnesota’s game in North Dakota is its first trip to the neighboring state since the 2008 preseason, when the Lynx played Los Angeles at the Betty Englestad Sioux Center in Grand Forks, ND on May 11. Similarly, Minnesota’s preseason game at Target Center will be its first exhibition contest at the arena since May 1, 2008 vs. Connecticut.
Lower-level tickets for the game against Connecticut at Target Center are currently available for purchase, beginning as low as $15. Season ticket members and groups of 10 or more can purchase seats at a discounted rate of $12. Tickets can be purchased by calling the Lynx at 612-673-8400 or by visiting www.lynxbasketball.com.
Tickets for the May 18 game in Bismarck go on sale Wednesday, March 20 at 11:30 a.m., beginning as low as $15 and can be purchased by calling 800-745-3000, ordering online at www.ticketmaster.com or in-person at either any Ticketmaster outlet or the Bismarck Civic Center Ticket Office.
The Minnesota Lynx kick off their 15th season on Saturday, June 1 against the Connecticut Sun at Target Center. Full season ticket memberships, which include tickets to all 17 home games and exclusive season ticket member events, are available for as low as $187 by calling 612-673-8400.
Maya Moore has won major titles now on three continents: North America, Europe and Asia.
On Tuesday, she had 36 points, 16 rebounds and 7 steals as Shanxi beat Zhejiang 97-87 at a neutral site to win the Chinese Women's Basketball Association Finals 3-1.
Moore won several NCAA titles at UConn and one WNBA title with the Lynx in 2011, her rookie season. She also was on the U.S. team when it won the gold in the London Olympics in 2012. And then there was that national title in Spain and EuroLeague title.
And now she has taken China by storm. The latest story on Shanxi and Moore's success is here.
Moore is making four, five times from Shanxi -- in the mid six figures, according to several sources -- what the Lynx pay her. And she has delivered.
Now can she lead the Lynx to the 2013 WNBA title in her other job?
* Liz Cambage, the 6-8 Tulsa star, was Zhejiang's star. She had 29 points and 11 rebounds and also committed and drew a flagrant foul. It got a little rough inside, which almost could have been expected. Cambage was 18-for-18 from the field and had 54 points in Game 3 of the Finals.
I can picture Shanxi's Spanish coach telling his players to make Cambage earn every point this game.
And, finally, a Moore tweet today:
Coming home a Champion! We put em away 3-1 tonight.Thank you everyone for cheering from afar!
News come slowly sometimes from the other side of the world.
For instance, the Lynx were touting Maya Moore's 53 points in Shanxi's 96-92 victory over Zhejiang on Tuesday in the first game of the Chinese Women's Basketball Association's best-of-five finals.
But there was an ugly side to the story, too.
Apparently, some of Zhejiang's fans were not too happy with their team's first home loss of the season. And they surrounded and started beating up two of the referees.
The CWBA issued an apology. A reporter wrote that more security was needed.
The second and third games of the series move to Shanxi.
Zhejiang star Liz Cambage had 38, but fouled out. Maybe the Zhejiang's so-called "fans" got upset at Cambage being out of the game.
The story is here
The Lynx held their annual season ticket holders party on Tuesday. A year ago at that event, Taj McWilliams-Franklin was there and announced she would be coming back for 2012. The date was Jan. 23.
This year none of the Lynx players were in attendance. Mama Taj is an assistant women's basketball coach with Rice. And Lynx officials said the team is preparing to go either way -- with or without Taj -- this season.
So no news yet from Taj, who is 42, and once again trying to decide whether she will retire or play another season.
Two other unsigned Lynx are guard Candice Wiggins and post Jessica Adair.
Word is Wiggins may be looking for more playing time someplace else; Adair, slowed by injuries most of last season, is expected back.
Friday is the first day WNBA teams can make offers to free agents and start signing them. And there are a lot of them out there.
It's cold outside, but Lynx players are playing basketball around the world. Here is a roundup from the Lynx PR staff:
* After scoring 40 points in Shanxi’s Game 1 loss to Beijing in the Women's Chinese Basketball Association best-of-three semifinals, Maya Moore focused on defense on Thursday.
She shut down Beijing star Sophia Young (San Antonio Silver Stars forward), limiting her to just 10 points in 21 minutes. Moore had 19 points, 13 rebounds, seven assists, three steals and two blocks in Shanxi's 76-54 win.
Shanxi plays Beijing again on Saturday in the deciding Game 3 at home with the winner moving on to the WCBA finals against Elizabeth Cambage (Tulsa Shock center) and Zhejiang.
* Seimone Augustus and Sparta&K dominated Wisla Can-Pak in EuroLeague play Wednesday, improving to 9-2 in EuroLeague with a 89-63 win.
Augustus scored 10 points on 4-of-9 shooting, one of five Sparta&K players in double figures in the rout. Sparta&K returns to the floor on Sunday in Russian League play, facing WNBA stars Kristi Toliver (LA Sparks guard) and Crystal Langhorne (Washington Mystics forward) and second-place Dynamo Moscow.
* Lindsay Whalen continued her hot play Wednesday for Galatasaray, scoring a game-high 19 points on 8-of-12 shooting to lead her team over Perfumerias. She also had eight rebounds and four assists, both team highs, as Galatasaray won 68-56. Galatasaray is 9-2 in the EuroLeague.
Last weekend in the Turkish League, Whalen scored a game-high 19 points to lead Galatasaray over Ceyhan Bld 77-62. Galatasaray is second in the Turkish League (TKBL) with a 12-2 record.
* Monica Wright had 23 points, five rebounds and three assists for Dandenong last weekend in a 98-73 win over Canberra. Wright was 9-of-16 from the floor and had a pair of steals and a blocked shot. She is averaging 14.3 points, 5.8 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.6 steals in 21.5 minutes per game in the WNBL (Women's National Basketball League) in Australia this season.
*Jessica Adair had a solid weekend for Townsville, another Aussie team On Friday, Adair scored eight points on 2-of-4 shooting, adding five rebounds in 10 minutes of play as Townsville fell to Bendigo 80-72. The next night, she had 16 points, 10 rebounds, three blocks and a steal as Townsville won 78-65 over Bulleen. The Fire are now 10-8 this season, fourth place in the WNBL.
DECISION TIME NEAR FOR TAJ
WNBA teams can start signing free agents on Feb. 1, which means the Lynx will probably want to know by then if Taj McWilliams-Franklin, their starting center, is coming back for another season.
Mama Taj is 42 and this offseason is not paying overseas as usual. Instead she is in her first season as an assistant coach at Rice University in Houston.
The Owls are 9-9 overall, 1-4 in Conference USA after a tough 49-48 home loss to UTEP on Thursday.
On Rice's web site the head shot of McWilliams-Franklin is her in a Lynx uniform. There is also an action shot of her playing for the Lynx in a WNBA game.
Rice won six games in a row earlier this season, but is in a 1-5 slide of late.
If the Lynx had won a second title last season, I think that Mama Taj would have retired. And she still might. But I know she likes Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve, her Lynx teammates and she ust might be coaxed into one more run at another title after coming so close in 2012.
The Lynx lost to Indiana 3-1 in the WNBA Finals. Not the way McWilliams-Franklin would want her long career to end.
Erin Thorn, a 10-year WNBA veteran, signed with the Lynx before last season to win a league title.
Obviously, the Lynx came just short of repeating, losing 3-1 in the WNBA Finals to Indiana. And now Thorn is gone.
The Lynx announced Friday that they waived her.
The 5-9, 145-pound Thorn played in 26 games of the Lynx's 34 regular-season games last season, but not a lot. She averaged only 2.0 points, 0.9 assists and 7.5 minutes per game. She shot 35.5 percent on three-pointers, her specialty.
She also played in six playoff games.
In her career, Thorn has appeared in 277 games, averaging 4.8 points and 1.5 assists in 15.2 minutes per game. She played her first six seasons with the New York Liberty, the next three with the Chicago Sky and one with the Lynx.
Thorn was picked in the second round -- No. 17 overall -- in the 2003 WNBA draft by the Liberty out of Brigham Young.
Is this the end of her WNBA career? A Lynx representative was unsure.
Thorn is not playing overseas like she has in other seasons. She was in Turkey in 2011-12, for instance.
This offseason Thorn had an internship with the NBC affiliate in Las Vegas. She has an interest in broadcast journalism.
Her twitter profile reads: "friend, nerd, WNBA baller, & kid at heart! I have a fat heart!"
She was enjoyable to deal with and never seemed to complain despite playing little for coach Cheryl Reeve.
* Teams can start talking to free agents on Tuesday and start signing them on Feb. 1. ... The biggest question with the Lynx is whether their 42-year-old post player, Taj McWilliams-Franklin, will be back. She is in her first season as an assistant coach with Rice and not playing overseas.
That may or may not be a tell as to what she is thinking. She is a very competitive person, likes the WNBA life, knows how to get her body ready for games ... but she has a husband and young daughter she may want to spend more time with.
She will likely let the Lynx know her plans by Feb. 1.
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