Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve took in her first Olympics experience this summer, spending much of past week watching a collection of sporting events and enjoying her first taste of the national pride each country brings to the competition.
She watched the U.S. Womens Soccer Team win Gold against Japan, admired the way beach volleyball was stationed near Hyde Park and really felt the historic tradition that goes along with witnessing the experience. But perhaps her biggest thrill was seeing three of her Lynx playersSeimone Augustus, Maya Moore and Lindsay Whalenrepresent their country as part of the Gold Medal-winning U.S. Womens Basketball Team.
You get filled up with that pride and wanting them to do really well, to see them in that environment and representing our country and doing it so well in a way we can all be proud of, Reeve said. Very selfless players. They played hard, they cheer for their teammates, and when their number as called they came through for the team. That was fun to watch.
The rest of the Lynx were back at practice Monday gearing up for their first game in 36 days on Friday against the Washington Mystics, while Augustus, Moore and Whalen will make their return to the team on Wednesday. But just two days removed from the trio winning Gold, the buzz around Target Center was still focused on the way they represented their country over the past month.
Each Lynx player found different ways to watch Saturdays Gold Medal game, an 86-50 win over France. Candice Wiggins, Monica Wright and Amber Harris watched the contest together in a group, while Erin Thorn took in the game from the comfort of her own couch. Wiggins said being able to see her teammates work together and help bring energy to the teamparticularly off the benchwas one of her biggest thrills.
Wiggins, known to Minnesota fans as someone who brings bursts of energy to games as part of what she calls the Bench Mob, saw Augustus and Whalen performing a similar role with the U.S. squadparticularly in the 86-73 semifinal win over Australia.
She said she really thought Team USA was in trouble during the Australia game, but when Augustus and Whalen entered they brought defensive pressure and helped the U.S. build a lead it would never relinquish.
The first thing Im going to ask them is, Bench Mob! How does it feel? Wiggins said. Were bonding now, we all know what feels like to come off that bench and bring energy. I hope they transfer that energy from the bench into the starting five like, bam, bam, bam. Were going to throw some knockout punches, hopefully.
Thorn said shes a fan of all sports participating and spends a significant amount of time watching swimming, track and other events. But being able to see her teammates participate made it a little extra special, and she said she saw similarities in what the U.S. squad ran on both ends of the floor over the past month.
Now, the key is rest.
The biggest thing for them is these few days of rest, I think, Thorn said. they havent had the rest that we were able to get. Just being able to get their legs fresh and getting back into the swing of things. But a lot of the things the team ran were similar to what we run offensively, defensively. Its good that they got reps in there.
As the group returns home, Reeve said she hopes the sense of adrenaline that comes with being part of Team USAs success helps them return to Minnesota and pick up where the team left offa first place club with a 15-4 record and ambitions of winning a second straight WNBA title.
I hope we have a sense of urgency coming out of the gates that we have 15 games remaining in our season, Reeve said. For a lot of teams around the league, theyll approach it as a new season. For us its not. Its the end of our season and its a playoff push, and every game has a meaning with regard to positioning and playoffs. Weve got 15 games that we have to be really good, and hopefully that adrenaline those three feelalong with the group herewe can get through that thing at a high level.
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