Lindsay Whalen bends over backward to be positive. Maya Moore looks to her teammates. Seimone Augustus is a strong believer in meditation.
When things went south for the Lynx, as they did during a recent three-game losing streak, winning took a back seat — well, a passenger’s seat, at least — to renewing a commitment to the things that matter.
“We call it ‘back to the basics,’ ” Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said.
And, if Saturday’s bounce-back 91-68 victory over San Antonio is proof, the Lynx (14-3) are just fine. That skid had been washed clean from what they hope will be their road to a fourth WNBA championship.
Losing streaks aren’t fun for anyone, even less so for an organization accustomed to success. The Lynx knew they were better than they had showed in losing to Los Angeles, Washington and New York in a six-day span. The key was knowing why.
“I don’t think we talked about San Antonio and what they run before the game,” Reeve said. “We had to hit all of our things, our staples, and say ‘This is our identity.’ Stay the course on the things you know are right.”
On the court, fixing what was wrong was largely a matter of hard work. But what about off the court, away from the gym? There’s downtime for the body, but it’s not as easy to shut down the brain.
“One of the most tempting things is to make changes, but you can’t,” Reeve said. “You have to have confidence in what you’re doing.”
With two NCAA championships at the University of Connecticut, three WNBA titles with the Lynx and four championships while playing overseas in Spain and China and an Olympic gold medal with Team USA in 2012, Moore has endured relatively few losing streaks.
Still, she has a well-defined strategy for dealing with unwanted outcomes.
“You have to have a short memory,” Moore said. “For me, it’s continuing to do the things that set me up for success. I can’t let sadness or disappointments lead me into bad habits. I make sure to continue the good habits: sleeping well, eating well, staying connected with my teammates. And bringing an attitude of confidence to practice.”
As much as Whalen has accomplished on the court, perhaps her biggest contribution has been as the team’s emotional centerpiece.
“Lindsay’s famous thing is to always be good to each other,” Reeve said. “No matter what happens — losing three in a row, up 10 points, down 10 points — always be good to each other. That’s a really great reminder to everyone and to me. I don’t want to slip into coaching angry.”
Whalen shrugs her shoulders when asked about her role as the team’s ray of sunshine.
“That’s just what I do,” she said. “That’s kind of how I try to live in general. Of course, the night of a loss, you’re going to feel bad, but you don’t pout. You move on. If you stay negative for too long of a time, you’re not going to have any fun.”
Said Moore: “Don’t dwell too much on the outcome. “Think about things you did well and want to continue to do well. And be a constant encouraged of your team.”