In an otherwise nondescript first preseason game for the Minnesota Lynx — their workout in Atlanta with the Dream was really as much a scrimmage as a game — there was one memorable event: Jessica Shepard's return the court, playing competitively.
"Any time you get back on the court it's exciting,'' Shepard said. "And just to get out there again in a Lynx uniform after two years. It's very exciting.''
A second-round pick out of Notre Dame in 2019, Shepard was a slick-passing forward who was making her mark until tearing the ACL in her right knee on June 8, 2019, against Los Angeles in her sixth WNBA game. The injury required surgery, and her rehab wasn't finished by the time the Lynx entered the WNBA bubble last year. So, when Shepard got on the court Saturday, it was for the first time in almost 23 months.
Coach Cheryl Reeve said Shepard looked rusty but, at the same time, moved well and displayed flashes of the kind of play that made her one of the surprises of the 2019 draft.
The Lynx played the first half with the Dream in gamelike fashion, with the second half more of a scrimmage-based situation. With Kayla McBride and Napheesa Collier still in Europe, Reeve went with a starting five of Rachel Banham and Crystal Dangerfield at guard, forwards Bridget Carleton and Damiris Dantas and center Sylvia Fowles. The Lynx trailed 42-36 at the half, struggling to protect the paint, something Reeve bemoaned afterward. The official/unofficial final score was 61-59 Dream.
Shepard and Carleton each had 10 points, with Shepard adding six rebounds. "Jess impacted the game,'' Reeve said. "As the minutes started to pile up fatigue set in. But when she was fresh, she was doing Jess Shepard-type things.''
"I've been around a great support system,'' said Shepard, who played only one game overseas last year. "And just the team has taken great care of me. They've made sure I've had no worries outside of just rehabbing. I feel good. Just working, kind of, back into things.''
No. 1 pick out indefinitely
Rookie forward Rennia Davis, the ninth player taken in the first round of the WNBA draft, has a stress fracture in her left foot and will be out indefinitely.
Apparently Davis injured the foot during the SEC tournament playing for Tennessee. She played in the NCAA tournament, thinking it was just general soreness. The pain returned early in camp and she was shut down midweek.
SOS — help on the way
With it looking like the Lynx will start the regular season without Davis, McBride and Collier, Reeve said the team, under league rules, will be allowed to make emergency additions to the opening day roster.