Greatness becomes the Lynx

  • Article by: ROMAN AUGUSTOVIZ , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 12, 2011 - 10:23 AM

Adding already legendary college player Maya Moore should go a long way in changing the team's fortunes.

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Maya Moore talks with fans in Minnesota via the Internet after being chosen by the Lynx with the No. 1 pick in the WNBAdraft.

Photo: Jessica Hill, Associated Press

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The media often ask athletes silly questions.

A reporter on a teleconference call Monday asked Maya Moore if she is concerned about high expectations for her in Minnesota this summer.

"I live in the land of high expectations at the University of Connecticut, so I feel I have been prepared very well for it," said Moore, whom the Lynx took with the No. 1 pick in the WNBA draft. "I am looking forward to the challenge."

At UConn, Moore led the Huskies to two NCAA titles, a 90-game winning streak and a 150-4 record in her four-year career. The 6-foot guard accumulated about every postseason honor possible there, too.

When the ping pong balls in the WNBA draft lottery on Nov. 2 came out in the Lynx's favor, it was pretty much a foregone conclusion the long-struggling team would pick Moore with the top choice when April 11 arrived.

At 2:09 p.m. or so, the Lynx did, hoping the Maya Moore era will be better than the first 12 seasons. The Minnesota franchise has made the WNBA playoffs only two times in its history, 2003 and '04, and has never won a playoff series.

"Today could not be any more special for us and for the entire group of Lynx fans," said Roger Griffith, the team's executive vice president. "Every year the first pick has a chance to make a difference. But every once in a while that pick is above the ordinary No. 1 pick and this is one of those years."

Moore said Monday that she is happy going West. "I feel like the Minnesota Lynx are one of those teams that are just kind of on the border of breaking through," she said. "There is a lot of great talent there and a lot of potential to have a great season next season."

Moore was already using the word "we" when talking about the Lynx.

"We have a good mix of some veterans," she said, mentioning Lindsay Whalen, Seimone Augustus, Taj McWilliams-Franklin and Rebekkah Brunson. "It is a good situation. The pieces are there. It is just a matter of putting them together to win a championship."

Moore's role as a rookie? "I will definitely bring just energy and passion," she said. "I like to get out in transition. That is one of my favorite aspects of the game. So, hopefully, I will be able to bring some fun stuff in on the offensive end in transition and [by] scoring in different ways. I am excited to see what takes place at Target Center."

Even at the UConn, where coach Geno Auriemma collects high school All-Americans as regularly as it snows in Minnesota in winter, Moore was special.

"She will go down as the greatest women's basketball player to ever play," said Diana Taurasi, the WNBA's MVP in 2009 and a former UConn star. "The way she's carried teams, the way she's played on great teams. She's really done it all."

Moore's college career came to an end on April 3 when Notre Dame beat the Huskies 72-63 in the women's Final Four semifinals. Moore scored 36 points in the loss.

"The thing I am going to appreciate most about her is how hard she plays, the way she approaches the game, the will to win," Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said. "She is going to be a great complement to the group we have."

A complement and maybe a media magnet.

"ESPN loves Maya," Reeve said, "and it is really important that when she comes here that we continue the kind of success she is used to so ESPN continues to be interested in Maya Moore.

"So that's our challenge -- to kind of keep this thing going. And there is no reason to believe why it wouldn't happen."

Except the Lynx's bleak history. But Moore just might be the one to change all that.

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