Lynx, sinking in WNBA standings, try to plug holes

  • Article by: AMELIA RAYNO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 10, 2010 - 12:31 AM

An All-Star's return could be the first step for a struggling team.

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First-year Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve (right, with Lynx VP Roger Griffith) has been brainstorming ways to revert the team back to its preseason expectations, when the team -- fresh off a trade for point guard Lindsay Whalen -- was in the playoff conversation.

Photo: Jerry Holt, Star Tribune file

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Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve has, in the past, enjoyed days off in the form of peaceful kayaking trips on the Great Lakes.

Those moments have fallen by the wayside. After coaching her team to a 2-7 start peppered with scores like the 89-51 battering the Lynx took Tuesday at home against Indiana, Reeve can't justify the idle hours.

Instead, the first-year coach spends the time "brainstorming" ways to revert the team back to its preseason expectations, when the team -- fresh off a trade for point guard Lindsay Whalen -- was in the playoff conversation.

Since then, the Lynx have struggled to adapt to Reeve's new defensive system, have managed 37 percent shooting from the floor (worst in the WNBA) and have been losing by an average of 16.9 points.

In many ways, although she has put aside her downtime hobbies, Reeve still feels like she is on a boat -- albeit one that's just trying to stay afloat.

"I think it's a boat with some holes in it," she said after Tuesday's practice. "You plug up a hole and another one pops and the hole you plugged up starts to leak a little bit, and then a third one pops. We're just trying to find ways to plug up these holes and keep them plugged."

The Lynx got one major hole plugged when All-Star guard Seimone Augustus was cleared to play in Thursday's game at Phoenix. Augustus has been sidelined since last July, when she had season-ending surgery on her anterior cruciate ligament, and then had an abdominal surgery in May to remove three non-cancerous fibroids.

Her return has visibly buoyed the Lynx as they embark on a road trip that will bring them to Los Angeles after stopping in Phoenix.

"It is great [to have her back]," guard Candice Wiggins said. "Right away she went after it. She was Seimone: she was trash-talking a little bit and we missed that, and we need that."

Reeve doesn't expect Augustus to be the savior. Even the thickest rubber plugs need a hand to drive them in.

"Fans need to be patient," she said of Augustus, who was able to pick up aspects of the new system after going through training camp with the team before her second surgery. "She's certainly not in position to be where she was when the injury first happened, and it's unrealistic to put that kind of pressure on her."

Rookie Monica Wright acknowledged the whole team needs to go out and "play better."

"Obviously, the people on this team aren't used to losing, and the start of the season is not OK with anyone," Wright said. "Once [Reeve's] system finally begins to click, we're going to be a very unstoppable team."

The Lynx had better hope that by then that they are still afloat.

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