The Lynx practiced Tuesday with nine players. Seimone Augustus, coming off knee surgery, watched from the sidelines. Lindsay Whalen, dealing with an right eye injury incurred Sunday, was told to stay home and get some rest. Recently-acquired guard Renee Montgomery was still making her way from Seattle, not due to arrive until tonight.
The All Star break couldn’t be coming at a better time for the Lynx, who host Connecticut Wednesday, and then don’t return to practice until Monday.
Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said she was ‘’cautiously optimistic’’ that Whalen, who got poked in the eye at the end of the first half in Sunday’s game at Tulsa, would be available next week when the team gets back together. But she will not play Wednesday against Connecticut, which will end a streak of 106 straight games – including playoffs – that Whalen has started for the Lynx.Tha streak goes back to late in the 2012 season, when illness kept her out of the lineup for one game.
Whalen will also miss the All-Star game. She was named a Western Conference reserve Tuesday night.
And there is no guarantee Whalen will return to action next week. Reeve said Whalen dealt with a similar injury to the same eye six years ago, one that bothered her for weeks.
The good news is that, after a couple of meetings with doctors Monday, this injury is not considered as severe. Still, Whalen had cloudy vision and a black spot in her vision on Sunday. Her vision had improved by Monday, and she was able to fly back to the Twin Cities with the team. But the Lynx are going to be cautious about Whalen.
So what does that mean for Wednesday.
Well, Montgomery will be tossed into the deep end. The Lynx sent her a video playbook the team sent her. When she arrives tonight she will meet with coaches. But, with Wednesday’s game being a matinee, Montgomery won’t even have a shootaround to get to know her new team. She will play.
The only question is whether she’ll start.
“We have to figure out what’s best for us,” Reeve said. “And what Renee is comfortable with. I’m not opposed to starting Renee.’’
If Montgomery doesn’t start, it will be second-year player Tricia Liston getting her first WNBA start. Liston only scored three points Sunday, but she was effective on defense and moved the ball well; she was in for the bulk of the team’s 27-12 third quarter which turned a seven-point deficit into an eight-point lead.
One thing we know for sure: Anna Cruz will play a lot of minutes. But it will be interesting to see how quickly Montgomery fits in. The fact that she played two years in college with Maya Moore and is a former WNBA teammate of Asjha Jones is a plus.
“She won’t know a darned thing, but sometimes there is a beauty in that,” Reeve said. “Veterans know what to do, as long as coaches don’t over think things.’’
That’s about it for now. I’ll get back to you after tomorrow’s game.