Kent Youngblood writes about the Minnesota Lynx.

Learning to win on the road

Posted by: Kent Youngblood Updated: June 13, 2013 - 3:08 PM

 Saturday’s loss in Washington proved the point once again. Every season – no matter the quality of the team the Lynx is fielding, the players have to be reminded how difficult it is to win on the road.

“The Washington game showed that,” Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said after practice Thursday.

The Lynx entered that game in Washington – the team’s first road game of the season – after one-sided home victories over Connecticut and Phoenix. But they turned in a questionable effort on both offense and defense while losing in Washington.

“Somehow we thought the road would be easy,” Reeve said. “We talked about it. But sometimes it takes more (than talk).’’

Like a loss, for example. It is with that lesson – and the experience of Tuesday’s bounce-back, defensive-driven victory over San Antonio – that the Lynx head to Tulsa to take on a Shock team that is probably better than a 1-5 record would indicate.

Tulsa’s 6-8 center Liz Cambage has missed three games with a sprained ankle and is questionable for Friday’s game. But, even without Cambage, the Shock won for the first time in Seattle Friday and followed that up with an overtime loss in Los Angles the following night. Reeve sees a team that – with a bunch of new plays – is showing signs of coming together.

“They play very, very hard,” Reeve said. “It’s a different team with a different vibe.”

There are a bunch of new faces on the team, including guard Skylar Diggins, who was the third overall pick in April’s draft. Diggins has played good defense from the start, but is still learning the craft of playing point guard at the pro level. Still, at least defensively, she will be a tough matchup with Lindsay Whalen.

This will also be the first time the Lynx play against Candice Wiggins, who played her first five seasons in Minnesota; she was part of the trade that brought center Janel McCarville to the Lynx during the preseason.

Here’s what Wiggins had to say about the game to the Tulsa World: “I feel really close to that team,” she said. “But on the court, I don’t know none of ‘em.”

 In other items:

--It has become pretty clear that the Lynx are going to go heavy with an eight-player rotation for the near future. Or, actually, more of a 7½ -player rotation. McCarville, still working on conditioning, is averaging just 18 minutes per game. The other starters are at 26-plus minutes or more. After that? Monica Wright is getting 21.5 minutes per game, Amber Harris 18.8 and Devereaux Peters just 13.3. Reeve said she prefers a tighter rotation in general; she stretched it to nine in the past because she was trying to find minutes off the bench for both Wright and Wiggins.

“It’s a product of how good (Lindsay) Whalen, Seimone (Augustus), Wright and Maya (Moore) are,” Reeve said. “I’ve got four perimeter players playing at three positions. That is how I roll. You get your eight players, and you sprinkle in others.”

Rachel Jarry (8.8) minutes per game, is getting the most run of the team’s three rookies.

--Balloting for the 2013 WNBA All-Star Game will begin Sunday at 4 p.m. Voters will be asked to select two guards and three frontcourt players from each conference, and will be given a ballot that includes 60 players. A write-in option is also available. Fans can vote at the team's website -- WNBA.com. Voting will conclude July 14, starters will be announced July 18 and reserves will be announced July 23. The game, hosted by Connecticut, will be played July 27.

All five Lynx starters -- Augustus, Whalen, Rebekkah Brunson, Maya Moore and McCarville -- are on the ballot. 

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