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.
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.
Lindsay Whalen's team in Turkey, Galatasaray, won the Turkish Cup on Sunday by defeating Fenerbahce 74-72.
Whalen, the Lynx's point guard the past three seasons, had 13 points and 12 assists in the game. Her in-bounds pass to Sancho Lyttle for the buzzer-beating, game-winning shot was her final assist.
Galatasaray has won fourth consecutive Turkish Cups and 10 overall.
Here are highlights from the game, including the game- winning play and the three-pointer by Fenerbahce’s Cappie Pondexter that tied the game. (Whalen is wearing No. 13 in the half gold-half maroon jersey.):
Whalen led the Lynx to the 2011 WNBA title. Last season the Lynx lost to Indiana in the league finals.
Maya Moore of the Lynx and Tamika Catchings of the Indiana Fever met again on Saturday halfway around the world.
And this time, Moore's team prevailed.
Moore scored 47 points as the Shanxi Flame beat the Guangdong Dolphins 89-78 in Taiyuan, Shanxi's home city.
Moore made 17 of 32 shots, had 11 rebounds, eight assists and seven steals.
Catchings had 26 points, eight rebounds and three steals for the Dolphins (5-10).
Maybe Moore should have taken a few more shots in Game 4 of the WNBA Finals in Indianapolis, which the Fever won to win the series 3-1 over the favored Lynx.
A boxscore from Moore's game on Saturday is here.
Shanxi had another game on Tuesday. And Moore was not quite as dominant. She only had 43 points, nine rebounds, five assists, five steals and three blocks as Shanxi beat Yunnan 92-72 win. The Flame are 13-3 now, in first place in the WCBA with six regular season games left.
Elizabeth Cambage’s Zhejiang team is 11-4 in the Women's Chinese Basketball Association standings.
Before Tuesday's game, Moore was averaging 41.8 points, 12.3 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 3.7 steals and 1.5 blocks per game. She is shooting 55.6% (65-for-117) from the field and 40.0% (26-for-65) from three-point range. She probably should be wearing a big S for Superwoman on her jersey.
Catchings was averaging 25.5 points, 9.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 3.5 steals and 1.0 blocks per game after her team's loss to the Flame on 60.3% (38-for-63) shooting.
The WNBA announced a couple of rule changes this morning.
They will extend the three-point line and get tough on "flopping."
The three-point line will move from 20 feet, 6-1/4 inches to 22, 1-3/4, which is the international distance.
Shooting the three-pointer and defending it were among the Lynx's strengths last season as they compiled the best record in the WNBA (27-7) during the regular season.
The Lynx tied for first with Indiana in three-point shooting percentage. Both shot 40%. They Lynx averaged 16.62 three-point attempts per game, eighth in the WNBA.
Seimone Augustus shot a team-best 43.7 percent, which ranked fourth in the WNBA. Also in the top 25 were Candice Wiggins (20th, 39.7%) and Maya Moore (T-22, 38.8%).
Defensively, Minnesota held opponents to 32.7% shooting from long range. Only Los Angeles held opponents to a lower three-point percentage (32.2%).
Here's the league's release:
The WNBA will implement new rules regarding flopping and defensive three-seconds, while also extending the three-point line, Chief of Basketball Operations and Player Relations Renee Brown announced today following the league’s Board of Governor’s Meeting. The rules will go into effect beginning with the 2013 season.
“Flops that are intended to mislead referees into calling undeserved fouls or fool fans into believing a foul call was missed are a detriment to the game," Brown said. "With that, both the Board of Governors and the Competition Committee felt strongly that a player who, upon video review by the league, is believed to have committed a flop will, after an initial warning, be given an automatic penalty.”
“Flopping” will be defined as any physical act that, upon review, reasonably appears to have been intended to cause the referees to call a foul on another player.
The primary factor in determining if a player committed a flop is whether her physical reaction to an action by another player (whether or not that action resulted in contact) is inconsistent with what would reasonably be expected given the force, direction, or nature of the action of the other player. An example would be a player who lunges, flails, or falls following minimal or non-existent contact with an opponent.
Physical acts that constitute legitimate basketball plays (such as moving to a spot in order to draw an offensive foul) and minor physical reactions to contact will not be treated as flops.
During preseason games, warning will be given for acts judged to be flops. Any player who is determined to have committed a flop during the regular season will, upon the first offense, receive a warning. Subsequent violations will result in fines of increasing amounts. Beginning with a sixth violation, a player will be subject to a further increased fine and/or suspension.
The league will announce at a later date a separate set of penalties for flopping that will apply during the playoffs.
The three-point line will be extended from 20 feet, 6 1/4 inches to 22 feet, 1 3/4 inches, consistent with the distance inherent in all FIBA competitions.
“We extended the line to its current distance of 20 feet, 6 1/4 inches in 2004 and our three-point shooting percentage increased,” said Brown. “Since then the talent level and the athleticism of our players has only continued to increase; and with a significant percentage of our players also playing – and excelling – internationally, this brings us into line with the international game. The extended three-point line and defensive three-second rule will create spacing and open up the lane. The improved spacing will create increased opportunities for athletic players to drive to the basket and either shoot or pass the ball back out to open players on the perimeter.”
Under the new defensive three-second rule, a violation will result in a technical foul being assessed if a defensive player violates the “actively guarding” guidelines. Following the free throw for the technical foul, the offense will maintain possession of the ball at the free throw line extended.
Slight changes also have been made with regard to the use of instant replay as it pertains to flagrant fouls and the restricted area.
Whereas previous rules allowed for replay review of Flagrant Foul 2’s but not Flagrant Foul 1’s, the level of the foul will now be assigned only after the play has been reviewed. Replay procedures are also being instituted during the final minute of regulation and overtime if officials determine the offensive player committed the illegal contact but are uncertain as to whether the defender was inside or outside the restricted area.
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