After going 3-1 to start the season, Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve had some impressions about that intense, seven-day stretch. Her team was resilient, able to come back from bad stretches and double-digit deficits. The rookies have been asked to do more than expected, and have come through.
Oh, and this: This schedule is going to be a problem.
The virus-induced 22-game season has one plus. Every game is being held at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. So there is no travel, no late nights or early-morning flights. And those 22 games are being played in 49 days. Seven weeks.
The Lynx opened with four games in seven days. After three days without a game they’ll start a stretch of six games in 11 days when they play Wednesday against New York.
“We’re all doing it, so it’s not a case where there is an advantage anywhere,” Reeve said. “But, in terms of what these players are going through, I think we’re concerned that it’s not sustainable, physically. That’s probably one of the biggest takeaways I had after seven days is we can’t keep doing what we just did. It’s just not possible.”
Unfortunately, the schedule isn’t going to change.
Reeve gave the players the day off, entirely, Sunday. With two days of practice before the next game, Reeve is trying to accomplish what needs to be done without overworking the players. Veteran Sylvia Fowles, for example, was more of a teacher Monday than a player.
The thought was a lack of travel would mitigate the jam-packed schedule. Reeve speculated that some players, seeing the opportunity to play more games and practice less, might have found that idea appealing.
“But these games, they’re intense,” Reeve said. “I could see [doing this] for a couple weeks, but this is a long stretch of 22 games in seven weeks. I don’t know what this thing is going to look like once we’re halfway, two-thirds, three-fourths the way through it. It’s concerning.”
During media availability Monday Fowles talked about how she’s working through it — with Pilates before practice, cold tubs after. Paying attention to any sore spot before it gets worse.
“You have to make sure you’re listening to your body,” Fowles said. “But at the same time making sure that you push yourself.”
So far Fowles has averaged almost 28 minutes per game, nearly two minutes less than last year. Napheesa Collier, who led the league in minutes played last year — she averaged 33.3 minutes — is averaging 33 minutes through four games. Damiris Dantas is at 30 minutes per game. Rookie Crystal Dangerfield has averaged 35½ the past two games.
This will probably have to change. Reeve said she will try to manage minutes. But there might be an inevitable necessity: giving players games off.
“We’ll take it week to week and see where we’re at,” she said. “If we can manage it through minutes, that’s the preference. But if it gets to a place where we’re not having success with that, you might see [games being taken off].”
• Reeve said Lexie Brown, who has been in the league’s concussion protocol since hitting her head on the court late in the Lynx’s loss to Seattle, was able to participate in practice Monday. If there are no setbacks, Reeve said it was possible Brown could return to action Wednesday. Guard Shenise Johnson, who strained her right hamstring Saturday, is receiving treatment and Reeve has not established a timeline for her return.