Ask anyone who studies Seimone Augustus offensive game, and theyll likely bring up her nearly unmatchable ball handling skills. The way Augustus finds a way, no matter how tiny a window, to create just enough separation to get a shot off or penetrate to the basket under any circumstance.
Her crossover has been dissected, compared and praised, but rarely emulated. Its a part of Augustus game that has made her a scoring threat most likely since long before she suited for LSU in collegeLynx assistant coach Shelley Patterson even offered: Shes been doing that since she was a baby, I bet.
But as Augustus nears the Minnesota Lynxs franchise record for career points, she breaks down her offensive game a little differently. She mentions the crossoverthe flash, if you willbut the part of her game she finds to be most crucial is her jumper. Its what puts that cloud of doubt in defenders heads. Do they give her space to protect the drive, or do they play her tight, fearing that mid-range shot thats just as automatic?
My jumper has gotten me through tough situations, Augustus said. And it creates a lot of havoc for the defenders.
Its a big reason why shes about to set the all-time scoring standard in franchise history.
After Augustus 18-point performance against Tulsa on Friday, a 92-83 victory at Target Center, she now sits nine points away from passing Katie Smiths mark of 3,605 points. Augustus, drafted by Minnesota first overall in the 2006 WNBA Draft, has spent her entire career with the Lynx and has grown into one of the games most dependable scorers.
Shes a WNBA champion, a Finals MVP and a two-time gold medalist for Team USA, someone who teammates can rely on to take the difficult shot no matter how many seconds are left on the shot clock. A proven scorer who is shooting 52.0 percent from the field this season, Augustus is so decorated and well-respected for her offensive game it came as a surprise to coach Cheryl Reeve she hadnt already become the franchises all-time leading scorer.
Reeve knows Augustus game as well as anyone. Now in her third year with the Lynx, she sees Augustus break defenders down on a regular basis both in practice and in games. As a former assistant in Detroit Reeve said her Shock teams had talented defenders, but when Augustus had possession there wasnt a whole lot they could do to contain her.
It was tough to stay in front of her, Reeve said. When 'Mone is determined, theres not a player in the league who can stop her.
At the time, Augustus was the primary scorer on the Lynx roster. But things have changed in Minnesota since her first few seasons with the team, and on the 2012 roster Augustus is one of several players who can take an important shot with the game on the line. Even though shes capable and often does find herself in that high-pressure position, others on the team are just as apt to take control of a game if need be.
That only makes Augustus more dangerous on the offensive end. With teams needing to decide if theyll focus on Lindsay Whalen or Maya Moore, or need to pay extra attention to Rebekkah Brunson in the paint, there are fewer opportunities for a team to put all its defensive effort into stopping Augustus.
My life, my job is a lot easier, Augustus said. To have great players around you, it takes a lot off your shoulders. You can pass it to Whalen or Maya, and the list goes on of great players that does their job well.
With those options on hand, the way she attacks defenses are unique each possession. She can penetrate the lane, hit a floater, pull up for a mid-range of 3-point attempt or draw a double team that opens up one of her teammates.
Whatever she does, Moore said she makes it look effortless.
Shes very comfortable doing what shes going to do, Moore said. It sounds kind of simple, but when she wants to do something, she does it and she makes it look so smooth.
When Augustus does break the all-time Lynx record for scoring, presumably Tuesday at Target Center against the Los Angeles Sparks, it will be a statistical milestone her teammates and coaches said is well-deserved.
Patterson said Candice Wiggins commented in practice on Thursday that when the shot clock is running down, she knows if the ball is in Augustus hands theres a good chance shell find a way to score.
She can create like no other, Patterson said. Her ball-handling skills at 6-foot, 6-1, crossover through the legs, just the way she knifes through defenses. I think that sets her apart from the other guards in the league.
Its a feat shes proud of because it shows the longevity shes had within the Lynx organization, playing all her WNBA games for one team. Shes grown up, matured and become a more polished player in a Lynx uniform, and its all built toward taking over Smiths record.
When she does reach the milestone, its going to come with one happy group of teammates who appreciate and marvel at her offensive gifts every day.
We know when she breaks that record were all going to be so happy for her, Moore said. I think thats how you can tell a leader of the team is how happy their teammates are for them when they succeed. Shes one of those players that puts the team first; its not about her ego. Shes always looking out for the best interest of the team.
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