Before we get to some anecdotes from today’s Lynx practice, here’s an update:
Starting center Janel McCarville was held out of practice for precautionary reasons with back soreness. More will be known about her status after shootaround Sunday morning. So we’ll keep an eye on that.
Now, back to practice:
The Lynx have a tradition of making sure anyone celebrating a birthday gets a cake and a run through the spank line. That goes for players, coaches, members of the training staff and even the men who practice against the Lynx.
Well, today, they took care of anybody whose birthday doesn’t fall during the season. That meant Rebekkah Brunson, Rachel Jarry, Sugar Rodgers and assistant coach Jim Petersen got the treatment after practice.
The team also said good bye to the group of men they spent the season practicing against; a photo with the team was taken at mid-court.
During the media access I took some time to talk to members of the Lynx who have been in the championship series many, many times.
Coach Cheryl Reeve was an assistant in the finals four times, winning twice. This being her third as a head coach, this is her seventh time overall. Reeve was an assistant on the Charlotte Sting in 2001 in her first year in the league. That Dawn Staley-led team started the season 1-9 before fighting back to an 18-14 record and a playoff spot.
Both Lindsay Whalen and Rebekkah Brunson are in their seventh WNBA finals.
Whalen helped lead Connecticut into the finals as a rookie in 2004 and then again in 2005. The Sun lost both finals, to the Storm in 2004 two games to one. In 2005, with the finals expanded to a best-of-five, the Sun lost 3-2 to a Sacramento team that included Brunson.
Brunson and the Monarchs returned to the finals in 2006 but lost to Detroit in five games to a Shock team whose coaching staff included Reeve. See how small the WNBA world is?
I asked each of them about what their first trip to the finals felt like:
First, Whalen: “That was a pretty crazy year,” she said. “I remember we lost our first playoff game (to Washington). So we were on the brink of elimination. But then we beat Washington twice, then we beat New York twice (in the conference finals).’’
The Sun beat Seattle in the first game, then lost the next two games.
“We had a three to win it in game three, but we missed the three,” Whalen said. “It was a crazy year, because it was right after the Final Four.”
Indeed, Whalen let the Minnesota Gophers into the Final Four in early April, was drafted by the Sun soon thereafter and was in the WNBA finals that fall.
“It feels like a long time ago,” she said.
Brunson mad the finals in her second season. The Monarchs went in consecutive seasons, winning once. “It was the first one, so it was special,” she said of her first trip. “But now, we really value the fact that you don’t know if the opportunity will come around again.”
For Reeve, it is her seventh finals, third as head coach. “When you’re in your first year in the league you don’t have a whole lot to compare it to,” she said. “I just remember the journey, where we were when we clinched the playoff spot.’’
That’s about it for now. I’ll get back to you after tomorrow’s morning shoot.