Patrick Reusse: About that first half: We expect more from our champions

  • Article by: PATRICK REUSSE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 29, 2012 - 1:24 AM

The Lynx didn't start out in the style to which we are accustomed.

hide

Taj McWilliams-Franklin drove to the basket against Storm star point guard Sue Bird in the first quarter Friday night at Target Center.

Photo: Kyndell Harkness, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Have we been spoiled by the Lynx success already?

A year ago, the local WNBA team cruised through the playoffs with a 7-1 record and claimed a first title for what had been largely a pitiful franchise. This was followed by a 27-7 regular season that established the Lynx as substantial favorites to go back-to-back in 2012.

The attendance was impressive for many of the 17 home games this summer. Yet, on Friday night, the Lynx opened defense of the title with a 78-70 victory over Seattle and the announced sellout of 9,213 was more like 6,000 in actual bodies.

The Lynx spent the first half feeding off the crowd -- meaning, they also were feeble.

Those first 20 minutes had nothing in common with the intensity and quality of play featured by the Lynx for the six-game winning streak at the end of their title run. Maybe they had too much respect for their elders, who made up most of the Seattle lineup.

Taj McWilliams-Franklin, the Lynx starting center, was the oldest player on the court at 42, although not by her usual margin. Seattle's lineup included Sue Bird, soon to be 32 and in her 10th WNBA season, and Lauren Jackson, 31 and in her 11th season, and Katie Smith, 38 and in her 13th season.

Yes, that's the same Katie Smith who was often the only star on overmatched teams in the Lynx's early years.

The Lynx had advantages in quickness and talent all over the court, yet they allowed Seattle to turn the first half into a slog fest. The score was 33-27 for the Lynx at halftime, and that was no full indication of how hard the display of basketball was to watch.

The Lynx and Storm combined for two baskets in the first five minutes of the second quarter. It was 21-19 with five minutes left in the half. The Lynx's first burst of the evening pushed it to 33-23 with 2:50 left, and they decided to wait right there and let the Storm crawl back within six.

And "crawl'' was the operative word for both squads in the first half.

Coach Cheryl Reeve was not pleased with her defending champs as they headed for the locker room. That probably wasn't an issue, because the defending champs couldn't have been pleased with themselves.

Famously, back in 1999, an assistant coach said after the team's first-ever exhibition game: "We just didn't play Lynx basketball."

Lynx basketball was not attractive to watch for a decade. They had one playoff victory from the summer of 1999 through 2010. And then they were able to use the first overall draft choice in 2011 on Maya Moore, and put her with Lindsay Whalen and a healthy Seimone Augustus, and "Lynx basketball" was no longer a term to be ridiculed.

Not until the first half on Friday, anyway.

You have to stumble and bumble as the most talented team in the league to take away a six-point lead against an opponent that lays bricks at 29.4 percent for a half.

The Lynx finally gave a hint of their class in the third quarter, making eight of 12 shots from the field, and 10 of 13 free throws, and getting control of their offensive game. The Storm hung around in the fourth quarter but never seemed like a serious threat to take a 1-0 lead in this best-of-three quarterfinal series.

Reeve said the hardest playoff game to win is the first, lauded her defense and said she was happy with the performance of her team.

"How happy were you at halftime?" she was asked.

Reeve managed a smile and said: "Not as happy, I don't think. I was always happy with our defense. We have to clean up our offense."

The Lynx did some of that in the second half. They shot 50 percent from the field, 18-for-23 from the line, and got 33 of their 45 points from the Big Three of Augustus, Moore and Whalen.

There's not much doubt the Lynx will close out this series -- probably Sunday night in Seattle -- but it would be nice if they made the action more appealing by not repeating that mud-ugly first half.

We're spoiled. We expect more from our champs.

Patrick Reusse can be heard noon-4 weekdays on 1500-AM. preusse@startribune.com

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Los Angeles - LP: B. Wilson 7 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - WP: J. Grimm 8
Detroit - WP: M. Scherzer 3 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: J. Shields 2
Philadelphia - WP: J. Williams 3 FINAL
Oakland - LP: D. Otero 0
Toronto - WP: M. Stroman 6 FINAL
NY Yankees - LP: C. Capuano 3
Arizona - LP: T. Cahill 1 FINAL
Colorado - WP: E. Butler 5
Boston - LP: R. De La Rosa 2 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: C. Tillman 7
Milwaukee - WP: Z. Duke 1 FINAL
Pittsburgh - LP: M. Melancon 0
Washington - WP: J. Zimmermann 3 FINAL
Miami - LP: J. Cosart 2
NY Mets - WP: J. Niese 4 FINAL
Atlanta - LP: M. Minor 2
Chicago WSox - LP: H. Noesi 1 FINAL
Tampa Bay - WP: C. Archer 3
Cleveland - WP: T. House 7 FINAL
Minnesota - LP: T. May 3
Seattle - LP: C. Young 1 FINAL
Houston - WP: D. Keuchel 10
Cincinnati - LP: M. Leake 4 FINAL
St. Louis - WP: J. Motte 8
San Francisco - LP: Y. Petit 2 FINAL
San Diego - WP: A. Cashner 3
Texas - LP: C. Lewis 5 FINAL
LA Angels - WP: J. Weaver 8
San Diego 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Dallas 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Washington 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Houston 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Minnesota 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Tennessee 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Baltimore 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Green Bay 12:00 PM
Detroit
Indianapolis 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Oakland 12:00 PM
New England
San Francisco 3:05 PM
Arizona
Denver 3:25 PM
Seattle
Kansas City 3:25 PM
Miami
Pittsburgh 7:30 PM
Carolina
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 9/25/14 7:25 PM
Washington
Connecticut 14 FINAL
So Florida 17
Old Dominion 45 FINAL
Rice 42
Troy 0 FINAL
(13) Georgia 66
Georgia Tech 27 FINAL
Virginia Tech 24
Eastern Mich 14 FINAL
(11) Michigan State 73
Iowa 24 FINAL
Pittsburgh 20
Bowling Green 17 FINAL
(19) Wisconsin 68
Maryland 34 FINAL
Syracuse 20
Tulane 13 FINAL
Duke 47
Hawaii 12 FINAL
Colorado 21
Marshall 48 FINAL
Akron 17
North Carolina 41 FINAL
East Carolina 70
Army 21 FINAL
Wake Forest 24
Virginia 33 FINAL
(21) BYU 41
(6) Texas A&M 58 FINAL
SMU 6
Rutgers 31 FINAL
Navy 24
Central Mich 10 FINAL
Kansas 24
Utah 26 FINAL
Michigan 10
Florida 21 FINAL
(3) Alabama 42
Louisville 34 FINAL
FIU 3
Fla Atlantic 19 FINAL
Wyoming 20
Indiana 31 FINAL
(18) Missouri 27
San Jose St 7 FINAL
Minnesota 24
Texas State 35 FINAL
Illinois 42
Massachusetts 7 FINAL
Penn State 48
Georgia State 14 FINAL
Washington 45
Appalachian St 20 FINAL
Southern Miss 21
Miss State 34 FINAL
(8) LSU 29
Northern Ill 14 FINAL
Arkansas 52
Middle Tennessee 17 FINAL
Memphis 36
Utah State 14 FINAL
Arkansas State 21
Miami-Ohio 24 FINAL
Cincinnati 31
Idaho 24 FINAL
Ohio U 36
Ball State 23 FINAL
Toledo 34
(14) So Carolina 48 FINAL
Vanderbilt 34
(4) Oklahoma 45 FINAL
West Virginia 33
Ga Southern 28 FINAL
South Alabama 6
UNLV 14 FINAL
Houston 47
Miami-Florida 31 FINAL
(24) Nebraska 41
New Mexico 38 FINAL
New Mexico St 35
(22) Clemson 17 FINAL
(1) Florida State 23
California 45 FINAL
Arizona 49
San Diego St 7 FINAL
Oregon State 28
(2) Oregon 38 FINAL
Washington St 31
Louisiana 9 FINAL
Boise State 34
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(25) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(12) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Middle Tennessee 9/26/14 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
Fresno State 9/26/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
(1) Florida State 9/27/14 2:00 AM
NC State
Duke 9/27/14 2:00 AM
Miami-Florida
North Carolina 9/27/14 2:00 AM
(22) Clemson
Texas-El Paso 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(20) Kansas State
Tennessee 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Vanderbilt 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Kentucky
Wyoming 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Northwestern 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
TCU 9/27/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Iowa 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Tulane 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers
So Florida 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Colorado State 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Western Mich 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
Maryland 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Indiana
Akron 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/27/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Arkansas 9/27/14 2:30 PM
(6) Texas A&M
Kent State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Virginia
Western Ky 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Minnesota 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Wake Forest 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Louisville
FIU 9/27/14 2:30 PM
UAB
Miami-Ohio 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Colorado 9/27/14 3:00 PM
California
Louisiana Tech 9/27/14 3:00 PM
(5) Auburn
Texas 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Kansas
Temple 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Connecticut
(16) Stanford 9/27/14 3:15 PM
Washington
TX-San Antonio 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
South Alabama 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Idaho
Cincinnati 9/27/14 5:00 PM
(23) Ohio State
Rice 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
(18) Missouri 9/27/14 6:00 PM
(14) So Carolina
Boise State 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Air Force
Central Mich 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
Troy 9/27/14 6:00 PM
ULM
New Mexico St 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(8) LSU
Memphis 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(10) Ole Miss
Texas State 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Washington St 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Utah
(9) Notre Dame 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Syracuse
(7) Baylor 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Iowa State
UNLV 9/27/14 7:00 PM
San Diego St
Illinois 9/27/14 8:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
Oregon State 9/27/14 9:30 PM
(17) USC
Nevada 9/27/14 9:30 PM
San Jose St
Vancouver FC 0 FINAL
Portland 3
Houston 0 FINAL
Philadelphia 0
New England 0 FINAL
Columbus 1
San Jose 0 FINAL
Montreal 2
Seattle 1 FINAL
Red Bull New York 4
D.C. 3 FINAL
Chicago 3
FC Dallas 1 FINAL
Los Angeles 2
Toronto 40 FINAL
Brt Columbia 23
Edmonton 23 FINAL
Hamilton 25
Calgary 12:00 PM
Montreal
Ottawa 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close