The Minnesota Lynx have taken first steps towards defending their 2017 WNBA Championship: They completed the first day of training camp.
“Day one is just typically a head spinner,” Head Coach Cheryl Reeve said.
Coach Reeve has obviously found a winning formula in Minnesota, but she finds herself with a basket of new ingredients for the 2018 WNBA season. Additionally, the Lynx and Lynx players have a few unique situations to deal with this season that could extend the learning curve for finding a winning recipe with new flavors. For Reeve, the ability to identify and correct mistakes quickly is what separates the women from the girls.
“The difference between good and great is the pace at which you make your mistakes,” she said. “You can’t do anything where you’re at half speed or where you don’t care about the detail of your action. This group was exceptional in their energy and communication.”
What to expect
Sylvia Fowles, Seimone Augustus and Lindsay Whalen are the biggest-name Lynx players to participate in training camp so far. Their fearless leader, Maya Moore, is still overseas contending for more wins. She is competing in league-championship play with her Russian team. This, after, winning the EuroLeague Championship ... just last week!
Leave it to the Lynx to bring in a bunch of newbies to the team who happen to be seasoned veterans. Reeve’s strategy was to pick vets who “already have the culture pieces that we’re looking for” — to foster smooth integration into the team.
Enter Lynetta Kizer, Danielle Robinson and Tanisha Wright.
Word from the gym on the first day of training camp is that the trio was sharp, fast and in excellent shape. After taking a year off from basketball, Wright, especially, showed up in what sounds like the best conditioning of her career.
“ ... Tanisha values nutrition and taking care of herself,” Reeve said. “Even if she’s not going to be a professional basketball player that’s going to be a part of her life.”
If the Lynx face any setbacks this season, it will probably be because the players fell victim to their own greatness. An important point Coach Reeve raised after the first day of camp is that Moore’s absence limits what the coaching squad is able to do with the new players. If it takes a while for chemistry and timing to develop, an extended learning curve could come at the expense of wins.
Another concern for Lynx fans should be that, in addition to Moore, other players on the team have participated in Team USA activities, including Sylvia Fowles, who steamrolled the USA Basketball Women’s National Team to a dominant victory over China in exhibition play on April 27.
Finally, Whalen will be moonlighting from her guard duties with the Lynx as head coach of the University of Minnesota women’s basketball team. Whalen’s greatness aside, this is a hardcore work life for any human, and it will be interesting to see whether divided attention or just plain exhaustion have any impact on her season with the Lynx.
Also, yet to be determined is whether the players who balled hard internationally and/or with Team USA will be able to hold up for the duration of the season. Even if these key players make it to the playoffs injury-free, it is hard to imagine they’d have more than just fumes left in their tanks.
Then again, Minnesota is going for its fifth championship victory.
Lynx vs. Mystics
Sunday May 6 at 3:30 p.m. EST
Wells Fargo Arena
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Season home opener
Lynx vs. Sparks
Sunday May 20 at 4:00 p.m. EST
Target Center — Tickets
National TV: ESPN2