The regular season is getting closer and closer, and while the Lynx feel like they’re in a place, there’s a lot to do before they tip off their 2019 campaign next weekend.
For head coach Cheryl Reeve, there’s a seemingly endless stream of things that need to be addressed in a quest to get as close to perfect as possible over the course of an intense three-week training camp period.
“Every day your list, you feel like you maybe chipped away at some things but then there’s always something else that you got to get to the next day,” said Reeve. “If you have an offensive and defensive checklist we’re probably just under halfway, so we have to accelerate that because we don’t have much more time.”
The Lynx looked fantastic in their preseason game against the Washington Mystics, but the most important part of that game was the chance it represented for the team to see the drills they’ve done and the concepts they’ve installed put to real use on the floor.
The Lynx play again this Wednesday against the Chinese National Team and then travel to Las Vegas on Friday to play the Aces on Sunday. These will be valuable experiences.
“We have three games and I think this group is going to need all three of them,” said Reeve. “Taking what we’re doing in practice and applying it—why are we doing what we do—then doing it in a game. It’ll be nice on Wednesday, four days of practice, then let’s go see where we are. Same thing with a little quicker turnaround time to go play Vegas.”
For the rookies, these games are even more important. They’re a chance for them to really feel how tough the WNBA is. They get all they can handle in their first few contests—it takes quite a while to figure out how to be successful.
“If you’re Candace Parker, Maya Moore, Breanna Stewart, you’re going to be great. The rest of them, they’re all in the same boat, which is they have a long, long way to go,” said Reeve. “This league is hard, and there’s not a whole lot that can prepare them except coming in and getting smacked around a little, then they figure it out.”
Damiris Preparing For Bigger Role
Though Damiris Dantas struggled against the Mystics, Reeve is still happy with how she’s progressing. Dantas will have a big role to play in Minnesota’s season.
“She’s very instinctual. I told her five years ago defense and rebounding were two things we said over and over again, we’re going to hold her to a higher level of accountability with that because she has an important role,” said Reeve. “We can’t have somebody that’s playing on the frontline that won’t go get a rebound aggressively so we’re going to continue to work with her on that. She wants that, she wants the big role, and that’s why we got her, that’s why we did what we did in free agency.”
Reeve also said she’s hoping to push Dantas’ range beyond the three-point line. Having another stretch big on the team never hurts.
- The word of the day was execution. On Monday, the team started to work on some sets out of timeouts and end-of-game situations. These are the types of plays that win and lose games so there was a heavy emphasis on getting things exactly right.
- Reeve needs her players to talk… and to listen. She needs her players calling out sets and quickly responding to what their teammates are saying. That’s not rocket science but it’s very important.
- Rebounding from the guard spots has always been a staple of the way the Lynx play. Reeve was getting on her guards in practice about crashing the boards—not just boxing out but going to the ball. They did several drills focused on rebounding missed free-throws.
- Temi Fagbenle is in good shape and has been playing well but she’s behind in her understanding of the sets the team is running. She’s here for a little while before she goes back overseas for EuroBasket play and Reeve wants to make sure she takes full advantage.