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Lynx won't 'shy away' from competition; driven to repeat

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While they've won three of the past five WNBA Championships, there is one thing the Minnesota Lynx have yet to do: become back-to-back champions. This year, head coach Cheryl Reeve thinks they're in a great position to finally hit that goal and win a second straight title.

Ryan Young - Swish Appeal

MINNEAPOLIS, MN — The Minnesota Lynx have won the WNBA Championships three of the past five years.

And just as it's been for a little more than half of a decade, this season is no different. The Lynx have a target on their backs.

For guard Lindsay Whalen, though, that's not an issue. She's grown accustomed to having a mark on her back.

"That's just the way it's been," Whalen said at the team's media day on Monday. "Since probably the second half of [the 2011 season], that's kind of how we've played. We've known that. It's now 2016, so we're used to it."

This season, though, there is a new goal on the table: becoming repeat champions.

The year following each the Lynx's championships, they fell early in the playoffs. Winning the championship two years in a row hasn't happened.

This year, forward Maya Moore said she likes the extra motivation of finally winning back-to-back titles.

"I think we have such a unique opportunity to have a third chance at trying to expand our history," Moore said. "That's an easy sense of urgency that will be added to the motivation that we have this year of taking advantage of not only what we did last year, but what we have again this year to do something that we haven't done in our history books."

The expectation of success is now embedded in the Lynx's culture. Deep playoff runs are a common thing for this team.

But Moore said they can't overlook the little things during the regular season — and she's not going to let the team forget that.

"You can't just casually come into an environment like this," Moore said. "You have to come in having your mind ready. You have to come in having your body ready, your emotions ready. You have to be willing to take that criticism. You have to be willing to put in that extra work.

"So when you come in having an idea of what it takes to win, which several of us have now, it's not as overwhelming. But it doesn't make it easier. It's still work that you have to put in and embrace and enjoy."

Minnesota, though, are sporting a very different roster this season.

While the core group remains the same — led by Moore, Whalen and others — the second group has a new look. Minnesota added eight new players over the offseason, many of whom were signed as unrestricted free agents.

Head coach Cheryl Reeve said she didn't plan on every move that happened over the offseason, but she feels that it may have worked out for the better.

"Retooling the second unit is something that had to happen," Reeve said. "From a financial standpoint, [with] salary cap implications, we had to make some choices... We think we're really well positioned to have a really nice veteran group to make a really solid run here at this repeat.

It's still a long way from the WNBA Playoffs, and the Lynx can't afford to look ahead too far.

So while they'll take this season slow and focus on just one game at a time, Reeve said she refuses to hide from what she knows this team has earned over the past several years.

"I'm not going to shy away from the idea that this group deserves to have on their resume, on their legacy, that we were repeat champions," Reeve said. "They deserve to have that. I'm not going to shy away from that publicly, and I'm not going to shy away from that internally. And we're going to go after it with everything we have.

"Hopefully, the third time is the charm."