Lynx rookie Dantas picking up English, WNBA game

  • Article by: KENT YOUNGBLOOD , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 30, 2014 - 12:49 AM

Rookie Damiris Dantas has picked up the WNBA game quickly.

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Damiris Dantas know all about how to rebote; she is second on the Lynx in rebounding at 8.2 boards per game.

Basket = Cesto

Rebound = Rebote

Before training camp began weeks ago, Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve put together a cheat sheet. A legal-sized piece of paper with a line drawn down the middle. On the left, basketball-related words in English. On the other side, the Portuguese translation.

Damiris Dantas, the second of the team’s two first-round draft picks in 2012, was coming north from Brazil. Drafted almost on spec by the Lynx on the advice of trusted experts, the nearly 6-4 Dantas had a strong frame, exceptional quickness, international experience.

And almost zero command of the English language. So Reeve wanted to be sure she was prepared to communicate with her.

Weeks later, Reeve is starting to think this no-English thing is just a big ruse.

“I don’t know what she doesn’t understand,” Reeve said. “Because it seems like everything we do, she gets. So I don’t know, really don’t. She has hidden it well.”

When the Lynx decided to sign Dantas, she was going to provide depth in the post. But after forwards Devereaux Peters and then Rebekkah Brunson had knee surgery, Dantas went from depth to depended-upon.

And she has delivered. Dantas has started five games at Brunson’s power forward position, averaging 32 minutes and 8.2 rebounds per game. She also has shown a comfort level for the game that allows her to pass out of the post (2.2 assists per game).

As Reeve said, she gets it. Late on opening night, in a key possession in Washington, Dantas was supposed to hand the ball to Lindsay Whalen off a screen. Instead, she faked the pass, turned to the lane and scored a key basket.

Two nights later in the home opener, she moved to center after Janel McCarville turned her ankle late and didn’t blink. She got the assist on Seimone Augustus’ shot that forced overtime.

“Look how poised she is,” Lynx assistant Jim Petersen said. “We’re putting her in very difficult situations. … We’ve been throwing a ton at her, and she has taken everything and knocked it out of the park.”

After Thursday’s practice Dantas, with the help of Google translate, answered a few questions. It’s pretty clear that Dantas is more mature than her 21 years would suggest.

“There are some difficulties,” she typed, regarding her first season in a new league and a new country. “But nothing scares me.”

Older than her years

Assist = Assistencia

Defense = Defesa

There might be a reason for this.

She might be just 21, but she has a wealth of experience. The native of Sao Paulo, Dantas was not yet 20 when she went to Spain to play professionally. More recently she has played pro ball in her native Brazil.

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