Lynx's Maya Moore ready for an even better 2014 season

  • Article by: KENT YOUNGBLOOD , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 18, 2014 - 6:23 PM

Lynx star Maya Moore is primed for a follow-up to her outstanding 2013 season.

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Maya Moore

Photo: CURTIS COMPTON, Atlanta Journal-Constitution/MCT

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Maya Moore crouched, tensed, then exploded from the low block to behind the three-point arc. She took a pass, turned, planted, jumped and shot.

Short, left.

Moore, the Lynx’s star forward, scowled. This was long after the team’s final practice before Friday’s season opener. Most everyone else was gone. But Moore had struggled a bit with her shot for a couple of practices, and that was long enough. So, over and over, she set up low, burst to the perimeter, took a pass and shot.

Finally: swish.

Moore, who had (gasp) even launched an air ball late in practice, was starting to find the range. She hit from the right elbow, from the top of the key, over and over. Finally, after hitting yet again from the left elbow, she pumped her fist, smiled and walked off, leaving the Target Center main floor empty.

If you think Moore, entering her fourth season, has bumped up against the ceiling of her considerable talent, think again. Or just watch her work long after most practices have ended.

“I have to do more,” Moore said. “I have to do it at a higher level. I’m going to continue with the same work habits, but just increase them. It’s the little things at this point.”

More, really?

Here’s what Moore did in 2013: She was third in the WNBA in scoring (18.5), sixth in steals (1.74), eighth in minutes (31.4), 12th in blocks (0.97) and 15th in rebounds (6.2). She also shot 50.9 percent from the field and 88.2 percent on free throws and became the first player in league history to finish first both in three-pointers made (72) and three-point shooting percentage (45.3).

She carried off the WNBA finals MVP trophy and was second to Los Angeles’ Candace Parker in league MVP voting.

So the question is, what more can she do?

Moore smiled. Lots, and it started with 34 points in the Lynx’s opening game Friday, an 89-77 victory at Washington. “I want to average 2 percent higher in every category,” she said immediately. And that’s just the beginning. With power forward Rebekkah Brunson out following knee surgery, and with top reserves Monica Wright and Devereaux Peters also on the mend, Moore wants to shoot better, defend harder, rebound more and evolve as a leader.

Doubt it?

“Look at the results, look at what she’s done,” Seimone Augustus said. “She puts pressure on herself, too. Now she’s figured out how to deal with it.”

So watch out.

A winner at all levels

A precocious phenom coming out of Connecticut in 2011, Moore has grown and blossomed on a team filled with veteran stars. You could see it right from the start of camp, when she was the only returning starter at early practices. She talked more, worked harder, offered advice.

“Maya, last year, took the steps we wanted her to take,” coach Cheryl Reeve said. “Both on offense and defense. She needs to continue to get better defensively. Closing out, containing her player. But I thought she had a pretty complete game last year.”

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