Web Editorial Associate
The Minnesota Lynx were back at practice on Monday morning and there were some special guests taking in the action inside of Mayo Clinic Square.
Geno Auriemma and the rest of the USA Basketball staff were in town to take in Saturday night’s matchup against the Phoenix Mercury and stayed to watch the four Olympians in Monday’s practice.
The Lynx put on a great performance against the Mercury for the Coach of 11 NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship teams at the University of Connecticut, and the rest of his staff.
“We’ve always been a team that has a belief that when we come out of training camp, we don’t want to have that gap (between defense and offense) that often exists,” Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said. “You can execute the last five minutes on offense and it gives you a chance to win while you’re getting stops. The first quarter I thought Phoenix played great, they made their first eight shots. Some of it was our defense, in terms of not being disruptive enough, and then when Renee came in with about four minutes to play, as a group we were more locked in to being more disruptive, and that changed the complexion of the game.
Allowing 28 points in the first quarter, Minnesota buckled down defensively and only let Phoenix score 27 points in the next two quarters combined.
One of the big reasons why the Lynx were able to pull away and maintain a nice lead after that first quarter was the play of their second unit.
“Coach talked about really trying to elevate the second-team’s play in order so there’s not a drop off when anybody comes out from the first unit,” Janel McCarville said. “We had a great first game against Phoenix, it wasn’t much of a drop off at all. Today in practice it was a little bit of a drop off with all of us out there together (the second unit). I don’t think we have the cohesiveness that the first-team has. Hopefully within the next couple of weeks we’ll come together as a second-squad and pick it up in practice and it’ll carry over into games.”
In Saturday night’s victory, the second-unit played very well and tallied a lot of hustle points, with 10 steals, 10 rebounds and 14 points.
“In general I feel a lot of confidence in our second team,” Reeve said. “I think in general we want even more minutes than what we were able to give them this last game. But when Seimone is playing like she is, she’s hard to take off the floor. When Maya is playing like that, it’s hard to take them off the floor.”
With not a lot of practice time as a whole unit, McCarville was pleasantly surprised by the dominant victory over the Mercury in their first game of the season.
“Yeah, I kind of was (surprised) actually,” the 11-year veteran said. “Seimone had just gotten back, Brunson just got back, I just got added to the fold, but for the most part it’s a strong core group who knows what’s going on. They didn’t set the tone early in the game, but they did set the tone throughout the game, which allowed players coming in like myself, Jia and Renee to amp it up that much more when we get the chance.”