With all but one Lynx player back from playing basketball overseas, Minnesota is gearing up for their opening game of the season this Saturday, May 14th, against the Phoenix Mercury.
All-Star forward Rebekkah Brunson will join the team on Friday which only gives head coach Cheryl Reeve and the rest of the coaching staff one day to get Brunson back in the mix. Despite the short time frame, however, Reeve is optimistic that the team will perform well if they play to their strengths and rely on what they’ve practiced in training camp.
“Camp is so quick, you’re doing so much, and this is my 16th year now of being in training camps, I know that what you do in training camp, really matters,” Reeve said. “You’re spending most of your mental (strength) on installation of stuff, so I suspect that the crispness of being a well-oiled machine, while we are veterans, we still have a little ways to go with that, and instead of thinking now, letting the play develop and just play.”
Unlike other defending WNBA Championship squads, the Lynx’ roster looks quite a bit different from last season’s. Trading for Natasha Howard and Jia Perkins, drafting Bashaara Graves and welcoming back Janel McCarville gives this Minnesota team a whole new look.
“You have a choice, a lot of your players aren’t here right from the get-go, we had three of our starters here, we had 12 players in camp to start, 10 of them had never been in a Lynx camp, so you have a choice: you can flood them and throw everything in and just say, ‘hey, figure it out, and be lost and be a mess when you play,’; Or you can bring it along slowly and try to whatever you put in, be good at,” Reeve said. “So we took that approach (the latter) more this year because I think when players are thinking, they’re not as good of players. We’ve really tried to make sure that Sylvia (Fowles) and Natasha (Howard) feel good about just playing, and not overthinking about what their ‘assignment’ is.”
The Lynx will need to be ready to go this Saturday as they’re going against a team they beat last year in the playoffs. The Phoenix Mercury got back Diana Taurasi, who didn’t play last season, and will be looking to make a statement Saturday evening on ESPN.
“I just think D (Diana) is ultra competitive and they’re aware of the Lynx success and their success and I think there’s a healthy respect there,” Reeve said. “Motivation not needed for either team and a little extra for them maybe that we ended their season, even though D wasn’t there, surly she was watching. Oh by the way we’re raising a banner over their head… motivation not needed.”