Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Lynx Look to Make History

All eyes are on the Minnesota Lynx. Most improved. Best off-season moves. Sleeper for the WNBA title. 2-and-0 in the pre-season. They are a good prospect to make history, which would mean that they would be a decent, competitive team for the first time in the star-crossed existence of the franchise.

I mean, hey, this is a roster with 7 all-stars:

C- Taj McWilliams-Franklin
F- Rebekah Brunson, Charde Houston, Maya Moore, Seimone Augustus
G- Lindsay Whalen and Candace Wiggins

Here is the rotation:

C- Taj. She's 6-2 and she's 40. She's an offense-first post. So rookie Amber Harris will see a lot of action. Critics point out that she's never been a post, despite her 6-5 size. I figure she can cope with that (lack of experience) with that size.

PF- Rebekah Brunson and Charde Houston.

SF- Maya Moore and Seimone Augustus.

PG- Lindsay Whalen and Candace Wiggins.

SG- Augustus, Monica Wright, Alexis Hornbuckle.

The starting team (the 1st player listed at each position) might not see a lot of action as a unit, especially if they get out ahead. They are not a good defensive team, lacking size in the post and a stopper's attitude and athletic skills at 1, 2 and 3, or at least at 1 and 2. Harris and Wright or Hornbuckle will be called on to do a lot of the dirty work once the Lynx have fashioned a bit of a lead.

But: Will they run roughshod over people, taking a nice early lead and enabling coach Reeve to play defense the rest of the way? Well, I was being facetious because, no, they're not gonna run roughshod over people. They're 2-and-0 in the pre-season, but those were a pair of close games against the Indiana Fever 71-66 at home and 76-70 on the road. Indiana is approximately an average team, having made the play-offs a year ago, but lost in the 1st round. And they're integrating two new starters, including 2nd-year pro Briann January at the point, where she had a couple of underwhelming performances. The Fever, in short, have the look of a team going in the wrong direction, though anybody with Tamika Catchings on their side cannot be taken for granted.

And so the Lynx had to come from behind to win at home, then took an early 23-12 lead in Indiana, and once led by as much as 15, but ended up with a narrow 76-70 win. In other words, the Lynx themselves are anything but a well-oiled machine at this stage.

Of course, they're better off than a year ago when three of their stars arrived late due to injuries, surgeries and foreign commitments, and the Lynx started off 1-7 and never really recovered. Nor did they have, one year ago, the Rookie of the Year favorite and expected to be the best player in the game five years from now--this, of course, being the #1 overall draft pick, Moore.

Moore has not been the best player on the planet yet. In fact, her baptism in the first Indiana became was well nye unto a debacle. But she showed improvement in her second game. But will she be half the pro that Candace Parker was in 2007 when she was the Rookie of the Year and the MVP? We will have some idea of that over the next few days because the Lynx open up with Parker's team, the LA Sparks.

Parker is probably rusty, however, having missed the bulk of last year with a dislocated shoulder suffered against the Lynx. You may remember that the Sparks nevertheless edged the Lynx for the WNBA's final playoff spot on a tie-breaker, as both finished 13-21 in the West. It was veteran Tina Thompson who put a dagger in the Lynx' playoff hopeswith a last-second game-winning bucket.

So these should be 2 well-matched teams. Same record a year ago. A "new" player to integrate into the lineup. Some good veteran supporting talent. The difference may be that the Lynx are a team of young veterans, while Indiana and LA rely on some real old-timers from Catchings and Tangela Smith to the Tinas--Thompson and Penichiero in LA.

We will have a better idea if that means the Lynx are at or near their prime after this weekend's home-and-home series with the Sparks. Most likely is a split and, longer term, a reversal of last year's 13-21 record. 21-13 will get 'em 2nd in the West, home ice for the 1st round of the playoffs. And one playoff series win is probably as much as you should hope for. None is more likely than two.

1 comment:

  1. "And one playoff series win is probably as much as you should hope for. None is more likely than two."