After a dominant 2013 season ending with one of the most spectacular playoff runs in WNBA history, the Minnesota Lynx now shift their attention to how to defend the title in 2014.
The 2014 roster is not that different from last year’s team. In total, 9 players will be back to defend the 2013 WNBA Championship. The entire starting lineup from 2013 will also be the starting five for the 2014 season. That means Lynx fans will get to see the same core; Maya Moore, Seimone Augustus, Lindsay Whalen, Rebekkah Brunson, and Janel McCarville running the show.
On Maya Moore’s leadership in practice…
“The very first time we circled up with this group Maya had tremendous things to offer, and it’s just been non-stop since then. She really understands the value of her words, and then there’s the way she conducts the business. How hard she plays, how hard she runs, just her understanding. I think all the rookies would tell you it’s been invaluable having her here.”
2013 WNBA Champion Minnesota Lynx Head Coach Cheryl Reeve
In addition, the bench will contain four players who were key to the organization last season. Monica Wright was invaluable to the Lynx throughout the 2013 season her effort and hustle was tempered with patience as she elevated her game to the next level. Unfortunately Wright underwent arthroscopic surgery on her left knee this week and will be out indefinitely to begin the 2014 season.
Devereaux Peters will aim to continue to provide a defensive spark off the bench. Devereaux spent last season proving herself and learning her role within the Lynx system. Her improvement as the season progressed and her increased level of confidence on the defensive end became evident during her increased floor time throughout the season into the 2013 playoffs.
Second year players Rachel Jarry and Lindsay Moore will continue their growth within the team, and with the absents of Monica Wright they may see additional minutes early in the year. Amber Harris will not return in 2014, and Sugar Rodgers was traded to the NY Liberty in exchange for draft rights for a 2015 third-round pick swap.
This offseason the team looked to the WNBA Draft to find role players to fill out the roster. In the first round they selected Duke forward Tricia Liston for her consistent shooting and above average court-vision. Other draft picks vying for a spot on the final roster include; West Virginia center Asya Bussie, North Carolina center Waltiea Rolle, Louisville forward Asia Taylor, Vanderbilt guard Christina Foggie, and Iowa guard Theairra Taylor.
On what she’s already learned from Coach Reeve…
“I think I’ve learned a lot…One thing though is intensity. She (Coach Reeve) doesn’t keep us here all day, but when we go, we work hard, and I think that’s something she really prides herself and her team on. I think she sets a good example and it carries down throughout the team and that’s why we have such productive practices.”
Minnesota Lynx forward Tricia Liston
The Lynx did not make a lot of moves in free agency, but did bring in 9 year veteran guard Tan White who spent the last five seasons as a member of the Connecticut Sun. White is a good role player, she contributes on both sides of the court, great at ball handling, is very solid from the line, and should fill a key role off of the Lynx bench.
In terms of longevity and consistency the Lynx organization has become an anomaly. The loyalty on display within every facet of the organization is remarkable. This will be Cheryl Reeve’s 5th year as a WNBA Head Coach, all of which with the Minnesota Lynx. Since taking over the team she has led the Lynx to a 93-43 regular season record. Coach Reeve enters the 2014 season with the highest winning percentage in WNBA history (.699), punctuated by three trips to the WNBA Finals and 2 WNBA Championships.
The massive talent pool on this Lynx roster, and the depth of Coach Reeve’s determination to win still doesn’t even begin to tell the whole story. Back for his 6th season with the team Assistant Coach Jim Petersen adds his vast basketball experience, as well as defensive positioning and low post knowledge to the Lynx arsenal.
Player development and scouting is driven by 4th year Lynx Assistant Coach Shelley Patterson. Assistant Coach Patterson has over twenty years of experience at both the professional and collegiate levels, and brings a strong demeanor, and positive outlook to practices as well as game situations.
Having a coaching staff that has been together for this sort of extended period of time helps to build a culture of understanding and communication that doesn’t always exists within professional sports organizations. It’s that culture which can be crucial to building strong relationships between coaches and players, and creating a type of selfless team mentality. It’s this ‘team before the individual’ mindset that has become a hallmark of this very successful Lynx organization.
“It’s the most consistency I’ve had all of my competitive playing career…It’s fun though, cause we know each other, we know how to communicate, what to expect. It helps things move along. They’re great!! They’re workers, they’re smart, they’re passionate, it’s just all a part of this culture that we have.”
2013 WNBA Champion Minnesota Lynx forward Maya Moore