Lynx basketball is back! Training camp began today with some new faces alongside the players that Lynx fans know and love.
The team hit the ground running—you can do that when you have veterans who are ready and willing to communicate with and encourage their new teammates. Coach Cheryl Reeve began the long process of installing the offense for this year, mixing up looks that team veterans had seen before with some new plays the Lynx’s returning core had to work to grasp.
“Day one is just typically a head spinner,” said Reeve. She added that despite that she was encouraged by what she saw.
“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.”
Though Maya Moore has not yet joined the Lynx as her Russian team competes in league championships, Rebekkah Brunson, Sylvia Fowls, Seimone Augustus, and Lindsay Whalen were all in attendance. The culture set by the veterans helps rookies, as well as players who are new to the Lynx but not the WNBA, assimilate quickly.
But it’s not all about teaching new players how the Lynx operate—it’s about finding players who share their values.
“We didn’t bring any veterans in that don’t already have the culture pieces that we’re looking for, so that’s an easy transition,” said Reeve.
“We want [new players] for their strengths, so you may come in to this team that’s won several championships and think, ‘Oh maybe I shouldn’t shoot this shot,’ but we want them to play their game, we want them to do what they’ve done their whole careers that’s brought them here,” said Whalen.
Lynetta Kizer, Danielle Robinson and Tanisha Wright are all veteran additions that figure to play important roles on the team this year, and they looked sharp on Sunday. Robinson showed off her outstanding speed and tossed several excellent passes to her teammates in practice. Wright is in excellent shape after taking a year off from basketball—a fact that doesn’t surprise Reeve in the slightest.
“I saw that when I went to visit her in Charlotte. You know, you wonder, what were they doing? But Tanisha values nutrition and taking care of herself, even if she’s not going to be a professional basketball player that’s going to be a part of her life,” she said.
“She had a good year off of those legs so she’s feeling good,” added Whalen. “She’s the ultimate professional so she’s always going to be in shape, ready to go, working hard, it was really fun to be out there with her today.”
“I thought today was a really good start,” Whalen continued. “You can already see what Lynetta, Danielle, Tanisha, can bring, and it was good to see the rookies out here as well.”
For those rookies, and other players who are fighting for a place on the team, learning a pro offense as developed as the Lynx’s will not necessarily come quickly. Everyone was working hard, but you can see the speed at which the veterans practice—and that will be an adjustment for the newcomers to the league.
“It’s ongoing. It’s like anything you do for the first time. You know, your head’s going to spin for a little while, then there’s going to be moments where you feel really good and then something is else is going to happen and you’re going to go ‘woah this is new,’” said Reeve.
Reeve is looking at everybody, watching all her players closely. With Moore, along with Temi Fagbenle, Cecilia Zandalasini, and Endy Miyem arriving late to camp, the opportunity for players to get a few reps and distinguish themselves is there for the taking.
“Whether it’s about them making the team right now or whether it’s about getting information on them that you have in the future,” said Reeve. “[It’s] very, very meaningful time for anyone playing the small forward spot without Maya for a week or however long.”
All in all though, Sunday was a fun day, and it was great to see the team back on the court. Tomorrow will be the real test, when players wake up sore and must come back to the court and do it again, perhaps in a harder environment.
“At the moment we’re feeling good, but it’s day one, they all feel good day one,” quipped Reeve. “It was enjoyable, relaxed, there’s no defense out there so everybody’s really confident.”