Overlooked? League-leading, All-Star-laden Lynx thriving despite deficit of attention

  • Article by: DAVE CAMPBELL , AP Sports Writer
  • Updated: July 25, 2013 - 12:25 PM

MINNEAPOLIS — The WNBA has crafted a marketing campaign around a trio of rookies whose popularity has helped boost interest in the league.

The WNBA's leaders aren't part of this "Three to See" brand, but that's fine with the Minnesota Lynx. Their unwavering focus is on winning another championship this fall, and they're in prime position after the first half of the season.

Those rookies — Brittney Griner, Elena Delle Donne and Skylar Diggins — were big names before they stepped on the court for their first pro games. But Seimone Augustus, Rebekkah Brunson, Maya Moore and Lindsay Whalen have been doing this for a lot longer.

For the "Three to See" and the rest of the WNBA, there's a "Four to Fear."

"Those three have walked into some really bright lights, and I think for the most part they've handled it really well," coach Cheryl Reeve said of the standout rookies. "At the same time — and this is what you're going to see in the end — this is a veteran's league."

The Lynx filled four of the 11 spots on the Western Conference All-Star team, which will be coached by Reeve and her staff on Saturday. At 14-3, they're two games ahead of every other team in the league. Their seven-game winning streak is the longest in the WNBA this season. They've got a franchise-record run going of 16 straight victories at home.

"The players look like they really enjoy playing with one another, and I never feel like one player's agenda is bigger than what they are trying to accomplish as a unit," former WNBA standout and ESPN analyst Rebecca Lobo said in an e-mail interview. "They are loaded with star players but carry themselves with a quiet humility that I find appealing. Add that to the fact that Seimone Augustus is one of the top two one-on-one breakdown players in the league, along with Cappie Pondexter, and Lindsay Whalen has become the heir to Sue Bird as the best point guard in the country. And I haven't even mentioned Maya Moore and Rebekah Brunson."

The WNBA released this week its list of top-selling jerseys, and the top three were no surprise: Griner of Phoenix, Diggins of Tulsa and Delle Donne of Chicago. They were the first three picks in this year's draft, and the league would've been foolish not to tout this young talent at every turn of the season. Moore was fourth and Augustus was seventh, for the record.

Of the most popular team merchandise, Tulsa, Chicago, Phoenix, Washington and Indiana made up the top five. No sign of Minnesota.

"We don't really care. Coach always said we kind of resemble the San Antonio Spurs in that sense. You never really hear of people talking about the Spurs, but then at the end of the year playoff time they're right in the hunt for everything," Augustus said. "So let them stay out in L.A. and Phoenix and wherever else they are, and we'll just continue working here."

The Lynx were 13-4 at the break the last two years and finished 27-7 each time, winning the title in 2011 and losing in the finals in 2012. Houston finished 27-3 in 1998, when teams played four fewer regular season games than they do now, for the highest winning percentage in WNBA history. Los Angeles won 28 games apiece in 2000 and 2001, as did Seattle in 2010. That leaves the Lynx poised for another push for that all-time best record.

Another championship is the only goal they're truly chasing, though.

"Coaches and players enjoy finding anything they can to use as motivation. I would imagine that the Lynx players feel a little overlooked and disrespected and use that as fuel," Lobo said. "To be honest, most players we've talked to who aren't named Brittney Griner have expressed a notion of feeling disrespected by the 'Three to See' hype."

Augustus and Moore were voted by the fans as All-Star starters and the Lynx had the same four players picked for the showcase two years ago, so it's not as if the Lynx are off the national radar. They're just not right in the middle of it.

"The rookie class this year has done great. Honestly, they're super talented. They bring a lot of talent and hard work to the game," Whalen said. "But at the same time, when you have years of experience, when you've been through it, when you've been through the travel and everything, it definitely makes a difference because you kind of know a little more about what to expect."

To outlast Los Angeles and Phoenix in the Western Conference, the Lynx will need to tighten up their defense, find more production from their reserves to keep the top six players, who include Janel McCarville and Monica Wright, from tiring, and of course, stay healthy.

They'll go as far as their point guard can take them, and Whalen has been building what might be the best season of her 10-year WNBA career. She has led the Lynx in scoring in six of their last nine games, including four in a row with 20-plus points.

"She's got this great bounce in her step right now," Reeve said.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Tennessee 13 FINAL
Jacksonville 21
Philadelphia 12/20/14 3:30 PM
Washington
San Diego 12/20/14 7:25 PM
San Francisco
Minnesota 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Baltimore 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Detroit 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
Cleveland 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Atlanta 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Green Bay 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Kansas City 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
New England 12/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 12/21/14 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Oakland
Indianapolis 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Dallas
Seattle 12/21/14 7:30 PM
Arizona
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Cincinnati
New York 97 FINAL
Chicago 103
New Orleans 99 FINAL
Houston 90
Milwaukee 108 FINAL
Sacramento 107
Oklahoma City 109 FINAL
Golden State 114
Florida 2 FINAL(SO)
Philadelphia 1
Colorado 0 FINAL(OT)
Pittsburgh 1
Toronto 1 FINAL
Carolina 4
Washington 5 FINAL(OT)
Columbus 4
Anaheim 2 FINAL
Montreal 1
St. Louis 4 FINAL
Los Angeles 6
Edmonton 3 FINAL
San Jose 4
St Thomas (TX) 61 FINAL
Rice 72
Stony Brook 59 FINAL
Canisius 60
Temple 82 FINAL
Delaware 62
FIU 58 FINAL
Long Island 69
Lehigh 65 FINAL
Quinnipiac 80
South Alabama 54 FINAL
Richmond 65
Seton Hall 89 FINAL
South Florida 69
Ga Southern 76 FINAL
Stetson 67
Yale 57 FINAL
Vermont 56
Cleveland State 54 FINAL
Virginia 70
Wright State 69 FINAL
Western Carolina 56
Nicholls 54 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 79
Morgan State 48 FINAL
Rider 62
Idaho State 72 FINAL
South Dakota St 75
Oakland City 52 FINAL
Austin Peay 76
Eureka 38 FINAL
Bradley 80
Appalachian St 65 FINAL
Charlotte 75
Connecticut 56 FINAL
Duke 66
Southern Miss 46 FINAL
Jackson State 66
Coastal Carolina 68 FINAL
Ole Miss 71
Montana State 53 FINAL
South Dakota 55
LSU 79 FINAL
UAB 70
Ohio 69 FINAL
Evansville 81
CS-Dominguez 50 FINAL
Cal State Fullerton 72
Walla Walla 39 FINAL
Idaho 86
DePaul 59 FINAL
Oregon State 90
Nevada 65 FINAL
Pacific 69
Portland State 40 FINAL
San Francisco 77
CS-Bakersfield 56 FINAL
Utah State 57
Nevada 12/20/14 10:00 AM
Louisiana
Utah State 12/20/14 1:20 PM
Texas-El Paso
(23) Utah 12/20/14 2:30 PM
Colorado State
Western Mich 12/20/14 4:45 PM
Air Force
South Alabama 12/20/14 8:15 PM
Bowling Green
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Memphis
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Rice
Niagara 76 FINAL
Cleveland State 58
High Point 59 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 81
Towson 64 FINAL
Wake Forest 74
Presbyterian 50 FINAL
Charlotte 66
Chicago State 62 FINAL
Bradley 59
Northwestern Coll 58 FINAL
Drake 102
Vanderbilt 67 FINAL
Marquette 80
Temple 78 FINAL
Howard 48
Southern Miss 66 FINAL
Ole Miss 68
UMBC 55 FINAL
Rider 67
Miami-Florida 74 FINAL
UCLA 67
St Mary-KS 51 FINAL
South Dakota 115
William & Mary 71 FINAL
Wofford 51
Troy 82 FINAL
Evansville 94
Loyola Marymount 54 FINAL
USC 96
St Francis-PA 52 FINAL
Duquesne 92
Indiana-Southeast 45 FINAL
IUPUI 95
Delaware State 52 FINAL
Detroit 74
Tenn Temple 48 FINAL
Gardner-Webb 68
West Virginia St 58 FINAL
Radford 52
Fairfield 47 FINAL
Seton Hall 79
Dartmouth 44 FINAL
New Hampshire 60
Ball State 47 FINAL
Pittsburgh 59
Jacksonville 61 FINAL
Tennessee St 64
Trine 45 FINAL
Western Mich 81
Tenn Tech 53 FINAL
Lipscomb 72
Samford 56 FINAL
Tulane 57
New Orleans 55 FINAL
Tulsa 78
Incarnate Word 61 FINAL
TX-Pan American 65
Ark-Little Rock 42 FINAL
South Dakota St 67
CS-Northridge 77 FINAL
Northern Ariz 71
Santa Clara 88 FINAL
Oregon 92
(19) Oklahoma St 55 FINAL
Weber State 49
Washington 69 FINAL
San Diego State 48
Cal Poly 68 FINAL
New Mexico 84
(10) Louisville 65 FINAL
Grand Canyon 51
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close