Lynx, Dream set for a gold rush

  • Article by: ROMAN AUGUSTOVIZ , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 5, 2011 - 1:44 PM

As soon as the WNBA Finals are over, many players from the Lynx and Dream will start preparing for the world stage of the 2012 Olympics.

The WNBA Finals has an Olympic flavor.

As many as 10 players who are candidates for the 2012 London Games could be involved when the Lynx meet Atlanta on Wednesday night at Target Center.

"That is why you are going to see such high- quality basketball and such great games," said Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve, whose team has a 1-0 lead in the best-of-five series. "Olympians have something just a little special about them."

Five Lynx -- Seimone Augustus, Lindsay Whalen, Maya Moore, Rebekkah Brunson and Candice Wiggins -- are in the 24-player U.S. pool for London.

Atlanta has two American candidates in Angel McCoughtry and Lindsey Harding. Erika de Souza and Iziane Castro Marques are on Brazil's national team, and Sancho Lyttle is on Spain's.

De Souza, in fact, missed the Dream's past three playoff games because she was playing for her native country last week in the Americas Championships in Colombia. She was the tournament MVP as Brazil finished first and received an automatic Olympic berth.

Augustus, who won a gold medal in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, said it had to be a tough decision for de Souza to leave the Dream in the middle of the playoffs.

"Either way, people are going to look at you in a different light, whether it be good or bad," Augustus said. "The WNBA Finals -- this is what we play for. We want to win a championship.

"But at the same time, you want to represent your country as well. It was a great opportunity for her country to make it to the Olympics, which is probably the biggest event for any athlete."

Augustus still gets chills recalling Beijing. And when the national anthem is played before WNBA games, Augustus always puts one hand on her heart.

"I thought everybody is supposed to do that," she said.

She learned the proper stance from her grade school teachers and USA Basketball reinforced it.

Augustus was coming off stomach surgery last fall and wasn't picked for the U.S. team in the 2010 World Championships. She was disappointed but understood.

"I wasn't in the best shape, I wasn't where I am now," Augustus said. "Other people were playing better."

Whalen and Moore of the Lynx and McCoughtry of the Dream all were on that gold-medal-winning team. Atlanta coach Marynell Meadors was an assistant coach.

"It was awesome, something you always think and dream about," Whalen said, but don't ask her about the Summer Olympics yet. "That's a long ways away. We have a game [Wednesday]."

For Moore, the Olympics seem around the corner.

"Of course, I want to be an Olympian," she said. "And it is coming up closer and closer every second. I can't believe it is already the end of the [WNBA] season."

Moore said the Lynx's high number of candidates for the U.S. teams shows what a special team it is.

"It makes the environment really competitive and that is part of the reason we have been able to be so successful."

At Atlanta, the approaching Olympics has caused problems for the Dream.

Lyttle left the team in June to play for Spain in the European Women's Championships, another Olympic qualifying tournament. While there she injured her back. So, instead of missing six games, she was out six weeks.

De Souza didn't want to leave the Dream.

"But I knew that Brazil needed me so bad," she said through an interpreter. "Without me it could be a really different team [in Colombia]. I know my importance here, too. I am going to give it my best, and my best is rebounding and defending."

Meadors backed de Souza's decision to play for Brazil.

"I don't know how you can refuse to give a player support. That is the main thing they want to do, they all want to play for their Olympics teams."

Her issue is with the scheduling of international tournaments.

"I don't think USA Basketball would ever try to have a training camp or whatever" during the WNBA season, she said. "They will fill [their team] in with other players to keep the championships whole."

That's what the U.S. women's team is doing now on its tour in Italy.

Without de Souza, Atlanta was outrebounded by 12 in its Sunday loss to the Lynx. But as of 11 p.m. Monday, the Dream are whole again, too. Meadors and a few of her players waited up in a hotel for de Souza. Her trip from Neiva, Colombia, took two days, including a six-hour layover in Miami.

When the 6-5 center finally arrived, Meadors approached her and said, "I need to hug you."

"We were all happy to see her," Meadors said. "She is a huge part of our team."

  • related content

  • Lynx win fans with quest to win title

    Wednesday October 5, 2011

    After years in local pro sports obscurity, they are now the hottest team in town.

  • Olympic candidates

    Tuesday October 4, 2011

    A look at possible candidates for the 2012 Summer Olympics who are playing in the WNBA Finals:

  • Video: Lynx playoff fever

    Tuesday October 4, 2011

    Lynx fans Rebecca Law and Vince Shepherd talk about their team.

  • Seimone Augustus and Maya Mooreare among candidates for Team USA

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Seattle
Portland 0 Postponed
Brooklyn 0
Sacramento 0 Postponed
New York 0
Philadelphia 74 FINAL
New Orleans 99
Minnesota 84 FINAL
Oklahoma City 92
Orlando 94 FINAL
Memphis 103
Boston 99 FINAL
Utah 90
Denver 51 3rd Qtr 10:00
LA Clippers 52
Army 68 FINAL
American Univ 66
Wright State 64 FINAL
Detroit 53
Syracuse 83 FINAL
North Carolina 93
Cleveland State 56 FINAL
Oakland 59
Delaware State 54 FINAL
NC Central 55
High Point 63 FINAL
Presbyterian 54
Howard 45 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 42
Coppin State 84 FINAL
NC A&T 71
Nicholls 51 FINAL
Northwestern St 80
Hampton 56 FINAL
SC State 65
Gardner-Webb 59 FINAL
Campbell 78
MD-Eastern Shore 72 FINAL
Florida A&M 65
Stephen F Austin 82 FINAL
Lamar 65
Central Arkansas 67 FINAL
New Orleans 87
Norfolk State 70 FINAL
Savannah State 54
TX A&M-CC 70 FINAL
SE Louisiana 61
Sam Houston St 80 FINAL
Abilene Christian 63
McNeese State 84 FINAL
Incarnate Word 86
Milwaukee 48 FINAL
Valparaiso 73
Alcorn State 66 FINAL
Alabama A&M 78
Southern U 59 FINAL
Alabama State 63
Prairie View 68 FINAL
Ark-Pine Bluff 105
Texas 86 FINAL
Iowa State 89
Texas Southern 85 FINAL
Miss Valley St 84
Long Island 85 FINAL
Bryant 88
Central Conn St 51 FINAL
St Francis-NY 49
Fairleigh Dickinson 0 Postponed
Sacred Heart 0
St Francis-PA 87 FINAL
Wagner 74
Delaware State 59 FINAL
NC Central 66
Howard 53 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 61
Coppin State 49 FINAL
NC A&T 67
Hampton 88 FINAL
SC State 53
Norfolk State 54 FINAL
Savannah State 56
MD-Eastern Shore 54 FINAL
Florida A&M 64
Angelo State 55 FINAL
Abilene Christian 70
Samford 32 FINAL
(25) Chattanooga 49
Prairie View 83 FINAL
Ark-Pine Bluff 66
Alcorn State 58 FINAL
Alabama A&M 55
Southern U 53 FINAL
Alabama State 49
Texas Southern 63 FINAL
Miss Valley St 52
(12) Texas A&M 61 FINAL
(1) South Carolina 79
Robert Morris 68 FINAL
Mount St Marys 44
East Tenn St 72 FINAL
Mercer 70
Wofford 56 FINAL
Furman 58
Morehead St 64 FINAL
Tenn Tech 54
Illinois 57 FINAL
Michigan 70
Quinnipiac 0 Postponed
Manhattan 0
Saint Peters 0 Postponed
Rider 0
(18) Miss State 59 FINAL
Auburn 48
(15) Nebraska 72 FINAL
(20) Iowa 78
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close