Lynx's Peters to play significant role in her first time through postseason

  • Article by: ROMAN AUGUSTOVIZ , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 28, 2012 - 12:01 AM

The Notre Dame rookie has become the first post player off the bench.

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Devereaux Peters, the first-round draft pick, No. 3 overall, for the defending WNBA champion Lynx, shares a laugh with teammate Brittany Rayburn, left, during the team's first training camp practice of the season.

Photo: Genevieve Ross, Special to the Star Tribune

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Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve appreciated the scene she saw at practice Tuesday morning: rookie Devereaux Peters and 14-year veteran Taj McWilliams-Franklin going over their scouting report on Seattle together in preparation for the start Friday of the best-of-three Western Conference semifinals.

"Dev is really smart," Reeve said. "Taj's mouth is moving and Dev's is not, which is really neat."

"Mama Taj was going through the plays with me," said Peters, a 6-2 post drafted No. 3 overall by the Lynx in April. "[Emphasizing] little things to remember for the game, the players. She knows everything."

That's why Reeve hopes her soon-to-be 42-year-old center never retires. But when McWilliams-Franklin does, Peters is expected to replace her. For now, Peters has a job almost as important. She's the first post player off the bench.

Amber Harris is ill (mononucleosis) and Jessica Adair (knee) is recovering from arthroscopic surgery in June. The 6-5 Harris has not played since Sept. 14. She is practicing this week but is limited. The 6-4 Adair has averaged only 8.8 minutes in 19 games this season.

"[Dev's] role in this series is huge," Reeve said. "That is tough to put on a rookie, but that is the way it is."

Last week, Peters had her best game as a pro with 17 points and 13 rebounds in a loss at Los Angeles. That came after two strong games against Indiana when her combined totals were 23 points and 13 rebounds.

Reeve said she can see Peters' excitement for the playoffs this week. And her advice is pretty simple: "The way you can help us, rookie, is not hurt us."

Peters had plenty of big-game experience in college. Her last two teams at Notre Dame reached the NCAA championship game before losing.

"She has actually played well against Seattle and played well later in the season when she was getting more opportunities," Reeve said.

The Storm's defense is similar to Indiana's in the amount of pressure it puts on ballhandlers, Reeves said, "so Dev's value is tremendous because she can catch and she can pass under pressure."

Peters remembers Seattle being a physical team. "They get into your cuts and try to get in your head," she said.

And for this fifth matchup of the season, the Storm will have 6-6 center Lauren Jackson for the first time. She missed the first half of the season while training with Australia for the Olympics and played only nine games in the second half because of a hamstring injury.

"She is an amazing player," Peters said of the three-time league MVP. "And to have that big post presence in there -- and she can shoot -- you have to be aware of her at all times."

Peters, of course, just wants to play against anybody. She averaged only 14.1 minutes per game -- inflated by 23 minutes or more in each of the past five games -- which explains her modest averages: 5.3 points, 3.8 rebounds.

She was informed what her role would be at training camp. "[Coach] said don't expect a lot of minutes," Peters said. "It is a learning year. Try to soak in as much information as possible. ... The minutes I got I was happy for them."

And now those minutes carry extra importance.

"I always know that Dev is a player [who] when called upon is going to be ready," Reeve said.

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