2007 Lynx Player-by-Player Breakdown
While the WNBA season is played through the few months associated with warmth in Minnesota, the 2006 Lynx season seemed to exist in a constant state of January.
A 10-24 record put the Lynx in the Western Conference basement while setting a franchise record for futility, and Minnesota won just one of its final 10 contests.
Well, guess what? It's 2007.
Enter new head coach Don Zierden, women's basketball legend Teresa Edwards as an assistant, No. 1 overall pick Lindsey Harding, No. 4 overall pick Noelle Quinn and four other fresh faces. There is a tangible upward shift in energy, mood and skill from 2006, and this bunch is excited to hit the floor with a new brand of Lynx basketball.
With the season opener (Saturday, May 19 at Indiana) just 16 days away, we broke down each and every Lynx player for you. Accordingly, we took a look at their respective 2006 seasons, then asked Edwards (guards) and fellow assistant coach Carolyn Jenkins (forwards and center) to give us the 2007 outlook.
Let's start with the guards...
(Player, Height, College, Year)
Seimone Augustus: 6-2, LSU '06
2006: The WNBA Rookie of the Year was absolutely phenomenal, scoring 21.9 points per game with nearly four rebounds to make the All-WNBA Second Team and the Western Conference All-Star squad. One of just 10 players in league history to average over 20 points per game, Augustus was literally impossible to stop one-on-one, and still found ways to score through double and triple teams.
2007 Outlook: Where as Augustus was at times solely responsible for orchestrating the Lynx offense in 2006, she's very much looking forward to coming off screens and slashing while players like Lindsey Harding set up the offense. Augustus was the two-time NCAA Player of the Year while playing off the ball at LSU, and should flourish in Coach Zierden's up-tempo game. She loves getting the ball early on the break, and will have more opportunities to do so in 2007.
Assistant Coach Teresa Edwards: “I think the best thing about Seimone is she leads really well by example right now. She isn’t the most verbal person no matter who you are, so it’s really enlightening to see her say little things to her teammates, communicate, and keep on getting better. She is open, works hard, still wants to learn and get better, and I’m really impressed with that. I expect her to continue to get better, and I know that she wants to be better than last year. Her mind is in the right place, and we can expect big things from her. If you liked last year, you’re going to love this year.
Kiesha Brown: 5-10, Georgia '01
2006: Brown played with the Washington Mystics from 2002-05. She also suited up for the Houston Comets and New York Liberty prior to joining the Lynx. In five seasons, she has averaged 2.3 points, 1.1 rebounds, and 0.9 assists per game in 9.0 minutes.
2007 Outlook: A rangy athlete, Brown is expected to bring a veteran presence to the Lynx and help share backup point guard duties. She's an effective shooter from distance and is excited to prove that she still belongs in the WNBA.
Edwards: Keisha brings some experience even though she's bounced around on different rosters. She feels she hasn't had ample playing time to prove what she can do, and is looking forward to the possibility of helping a team. I'm looking forward to seeing what she brings, but off the top we know she can bring experience of playing in the league.
Lindsey Harding: 5-8, Duke '07
2006: Named the 2007 Naismith Player of the Year, the National Player of the Year, the Defensive Player of the Year, ACC Player of the Year and ACC Defensive Player of the Year as an All-American. Averaged 13.6 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.5 steals in 34 games on the nation's No. 1 team.
2007 Outlook: The Lynx traded All-Star Tangela Smith to get Harding at No. 1 overall in the 2007 WNBA Draft, a move which should benefit the franchise for years to come if her first few days of practice are any indication. She’s been a terrific fit to Coach Zierden’s system and is simply an excellent all-around basketball player.
Edwards: Lindsey has the full package. She brings it all. I’m hoping that we can get Lindsey to go to a whole new level just like Seimone. She’s had a lot of success in the past, and to me she is going to continue to grow and get better both physically and mentally. Eventually, she’ll be comfortable with everything we expect of her and will pass that on as the team’s leader. That’s really what a point guard’s job is, and we’re confident she’ll give this to us...she’s been showing it every day in practice. She just has to stay dedicated to being better, and we know she will.
Amber Jacobs: 5-8, Boston College '04
2006: Started all 34 games, notching career bests with 8.2 points, 2.6 rebounds and 3.4 assists (15th in the WNBA). Her 115 dimes were the second-best total in club history. Jacobs shot 39.2% from three-point land, good for ninth in the league.
2007 Outlook: With the additions of Harding and Quinn, Jacobs should flourish without the responsibility of having the ball in her hands all the time. Her shot looks great in practice, and she made 8-of-9 threes on her way to 35 points in a scrimmage vs. Minnesota's male practice squad.
Edwards: We've been impressed with AJ thus far in training camp, and expect her to be a big part of our team in 2007. She's knocking down every open look she's getting, and is really stretching the floor for us as a basketball team. It should be a very good year for Amber.
Chandi Jones: 5-9, Houston '04
2006: Her third WNBA season was cut short due to injuries as she appeared in just six games. She came over to the Lynx in the Katie Smith deal in 2005, averaging 8.1 points, 3.3 rebounds and 3.0 assists in 28 minutes per game for the season's final 10 contests.
2007 Outlook: Jones’ injuries have kept her off the floor for much of training camp, but she’s looked impressive in glimpses.
Edwards: She hasn’t been healthy enough to go at it full steam in practice, but Chandi has incredible athletic ability that I don’t think has been seen yet. She’s spent a lot of time being injured here. The glimpse that we’ve seen has really impressed coach Z, and we imagined her being a very integral part of the team -- especially defensively -- if she can get completely healthy.
Navond Moore: 5-10, Alabama '07
2006: Averaged a career-best 13.6 points in 29 games, finishing in the top 15 and top 10 in steals and free-throw attempts in Alabama history. The highly-athletic guard was team captain her senior year.
2007 Outlook: The Lynx brain trust loved her athleticism and brought her in as a free agent for that reason. She’s been flying all over the practice court thus far.
Edwards: Navond has raw talent. When I saw raw talent, she has the talent you can’t teach. She’s very athletic, she plays with her heart, she tries to learn and give everything she has. She isn’t going to get everything right, but she’s going to give 110% effort trying to get it right. She’s 5-10, but she can go in and rebound and block post player’s shots. She also gives us that little rough edge, that you’re not going to run over us. I like that about her a lot.
Eshaya Murphy: 5-11, USC '07
2006: Named to the All-Pac 10 First Team as a Kodak/WBCA All-America Finalist after registering 17.9 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 2.1 steals as a senior. Murphy improved her scoring, rebounding and assist averages in each of her four seasons at USC and finished as the all-time leading three-point shooter with 181 threes.
2007 Outlook: Murphy was taken in the second round as the 15th overall pick, which elated the Lynx because they had her ranked in their top six. She’s a very athletic, versatile player who can stretch the floor with her shot as well as rebound, pass and play defense. She's also a sponge for knowledge and has improved each year she's played basketball.
Edwards: I love Shay. She’ll talk you to death. But beyond the great personality, Shay Murphy is really here to prove that she can be a great player, and I like that about this kid. I’ve learned that she is a winner. She goes out, and she finds a way to win. That’s another thing you can’t teach. It rubs off on teammates, and that’s what I love about her. She’s eager to win. She doesn’t want to miss a drill, doesn’t want to miss practice, and bringing that to this team will help us tremendously.
Noelle Quinn: 6-0, UCLA '07
2006: Named an AP All-American Honorable Mention and to the All-Pac 10 Team for the third time. "Q" averaged 17.2 points, 6.5 rebounds and 5.8 assists, leading the Bruins in each category. She became the only UCLA basketball player to record 1,700+ points, 700+ rebounds and 400+ assists in her career.
2007 Outlook: The Lynx got the player they wanted with the fourth pick of the draft, taking the young woman they saw as the most versatile athlete in the entire draft. Her college numbers speak for themselves, and her game translates nicely to the WNBA. Watch out for some special passes from this player whose basketball idol is Magic Johnson.
Edwards: Q has a great shot and is a magical passer. She can really pass that ball...just whip it to players. Her laid-back demeanor can throw people off, make you think she isn’t really into it, and all of a sudden she’ll make something big happen. She is going from being one of the greatest on her team to being surrounded by other great players, and we’re watching her adjust her game to the pro level. She’s incorporating what she does best into what will help this team, and when she figures out how to translate her game to this level it’s going to be magic. She pushes herself in practice to get things right, is always asking questions, just like Shay. I think she’s going to be one of those flashy players.
Shona Thorburn: 5-9, Utah '06
2006: Minnesota's first-round pick struggled to stay healthy, appearing in only 22 games to average 0.7 points and 0.8 rebounds in 6.4 minutes. She dished out seven assists and grabbed four rebounds in a season-high 20 minutes on May 31.
2007 Outlook: Expected to back up Harding at the point, Thorburn looks healthy and much improved from the 2006 season. She’s shown the ability to find players for open looks in practice and should play a vital role for Minnesota.
Edwards: Shona has shown so much improvement, and we’re very impressed with her hard work. She has come the farthest the fastest out of anyone on the team so far. She’s also just like Shay, in that she finds a way to win. She doesn’t always look as sharp as some players, but to her credit, she finds a way to get better and to win. I’m impressed with her perseverance to be better, never give in and never give up. She’s buys into everything, works hard on defense and communicates.
Svetlana Abrosimova: 6-2, UCONN '01
2006: Played in every Lynx game for the first time in her six-year career, averaging 7.7 points and 3.1 rebounds while shooting a career-high 41.1% from the field and 36.9% from three.
2007 Outlook: On one of the best teams in Russia, Abrosimova is expected to return in the middle of May upon the conclusion of her season. She should be quite impressed with the improvement in tempo and skill level from 2006.
Assistant Coach Carolyn Jenkins: Obviously the one thing for Svet is going to be fitting in with what we’ve been accomplishing in the last few weeks. Svet is a good team player and she’ll do a great job with that. The other thing we can expect with that is her becoming a double-digit scorer. We want her to look for her three-point shot, to run the floor and crash the boards from the small forward position.
Kristen Mann: 6-1, UC Santa Barbara '05
2006: The 2005 first-round pick started 33 games in 2006, missing only one contest with a broken nose and mild concussion. She put up 7.4 points and 3.4 rebounds in 27 minutes per contest, finishing second on the Lynx in assists (94) to rank fourth in the WNBA in dimes from a forward (2.8).
2007 Outlook: Mann will be moving back to the power forward spot after seeing action as a small forward in 2006. Her three-point shooting drastically improved from her rookie year to last year, as she hit 37.5% after missing all nine threes she took in 2005.
Jenkins: Kris is moving back to the power forward position with the draft that we had, and the guards we have coming in. She’s now going to take the skills she worked on last year, primarily her outside shot, and move it to the four position, which will be a huge plus for us. She’ll be able to step out and extend the defense from the post position, and use her perimeter skills against bigger players, which will be her advantage. Her shot is looking good so far, and she’s a great communicator on the floor; she’s a heady, smart player and she knows what’s going on out there.
Nicole Ohlde: 6-5, Kansas State '04
2006: Started all 34 games for Minnesota, continuing the longest consecutive appearance streak in Lynx history with 102 since entering the WNBA in 2004. As the squad's best low-post threat, Ohlde averaged 9.6 points, 5.6 rebounds and 25.6 minutes per game, hitting 45.3% of her shots. Her numbers went up to 12.6 points and 7.0 rebounds in August, including a 25-point, 10-rebound, five-block performance against Houston (Aug. 4).
2007 Outlook: Minnesota needs Ohlde to use her 6-5 frame in being a force in the paint. She’s been very active throughout training camp, and appears poised to continue the improvement she showed as the 2006 campaign wore on. Look for her to be among the primary beneficiaries of some pretty passes from Harding and Quinn.
Jenkins: We want to get "O" back into the double digits. We feel that she has the capability of scoring 15 to 16 points per game. One way we’re going to do that is to get her more shots. If you look at her numbers from her first two years, her field goal percentages are the same, but her shot attempts were way down last year. We have to give her more opportunities, and she has to take advantage of them. She also needs to really help us on the backboard.
Tamika Raymond: 6-2, UCONN '02
2006: Started 30-of-31 games in her fifth year as a Lynx forward, leading the team in rebounding with 5.6 per game and finishing just 12 boards short of 1,000 for her career. Raymond added 4.7 points a night despite missing the preseason due to a knee injury.
2007 Outlook: Minnesota needs Raymond (formerly Williams) to be a force on the boards once again, and is aiming to get more offensive production out of her as well.
Jenkins: She probably more so than anything can help us with rebounding this season, and we think she can improve her average from almost six to either eight or nine boards a game. Tamika is great at reading the boards, especially offensively, and getting position down low even though she’s undersized because she has a very strong lower base. The other challenge for Tamika is to be an offensive threat, and we're working with her in terms of finishing on the low block, working on her low-post moves and her face-up shot.
Kathrin Ress: 6-4, Boston College '07
2006: Boston College's 10th all-time leading scorer (1,300 points) and fourth-leading rebounder (664) was a Third-Team All-ACC selection as a senior, notching career highs with 16.4 points and 8.2 rebounds.
2007 Outlook: The 24th pick in the draft has impressed the Lynx coaching staff with her skill set as a post player, and looks to contribute off the bench for Minnesota.
Jenkins: Kathrin is a high IQ player that knows where she's supposed to be at all times, and has given us some physicality down there in the post. She's a sturdy player who is very smart and plays good position defense. She has good offensive skills, especially when facing up, and we're working with her in terms of finishing down low. She's also made an impression with her work ethic, and if she can continue to improve we'll get some good things out of her.
Katryna Gaither: 6-3, Notre Dame '06
2006: Averaged 14.1 points, 9.7 rebounds and 2.2 steals with Dexia Namur in Belgium. She finished fourth in the Euroleague in rebounding and had the third most double-doubles (five), including the lone double-double at the All-Star game (14 and 10).
2007 Outlook: The Lynx needed a rebounding low-post presence, and went to Europe to find the veteran Gaither, who has spent time in the WNBA in past years. She hasn't disappointed thus far, posting a great performance on the boards in Minnesota's Las Vegas exhibition games early in training camp.
Jenkins: Katryna has come in and added a lot of athleticism at the post position. She's a great leaper, a good rebounder, can set hard screens and is a good energy player. She did a great job crashing the boards in Las Vegas and almost outrebounded our opponents by herself, and we need that. She's an extra-possession-type player that can give you a lot of intangibles that really help your team.