Lynx Pregame Audio
John Focke with Renee Montgomery
By Matt Everhart
The Minnesota Lynx begin the 2009 campaign Saturday, June 6 with their home opener against the Chicago Sky at the Target Center.
The youthful Lynx are looking to improve on last year's promising 16-18 season. Landing just short of a playoff birth, the Lynx are eager to put the pieces together and land in the postseason for the first time since 2004.
"I think the coaches have put us in a good position with all the new players to be a very competitive team in the West," said center Christi Thomas, who is one of only three players on the Lynx over the age of 25 this season. "The West is a tough conference and we plan to finish in the top four to make a playoff run."
The Lynx, who finished second in points per game last season with 81.4, will look to use their youthful energy to get out in the open court and score easy transition baskets.
Speaking of transitions, on the eve of the new season the Lynx are adjusting to the sudden departure of head coach Don Zierden, who left to join Flip Saunders as an assistant coach for the Washington Wizards. Former assistant coach Jennifer Gillom has been named as the new head coach of the Lynx with just three days before the season starts. Gillom, a gold medal winner for the United States women's basketball team in 1988, played for seven seasons in the WNBA and was one of the league's best players.
"It's always been my goal to be a head coach in the WNBA and to achieve that in Minnesota is a dream come true," Gillom said at a press conference Wednesday. "We have so much talent here and I truly believe the sky is the limit for this team."
The Lynx will try not to let the Chicago Sky limit them from a season opening victory on Saturday. The Lynx, who are coming off just one preseason game compared to the Sky's three, have been hammering out the final roster in the past few weeks. Led by Seimone Augustus, the Lynx roster is packed with young talent. The team has several other top draft picks of the last few years, including Candice Wiggins and Renee Montgomery, who was picked fourth overall in this year's WNBA draft. The Lynx have four rookies on the roster and have an average age of just 24-and-a-half years old.
The Sky, meanwhile, are coming off a tough 12-22 season in the relatively weak Eastern Conference but are looking to improve. Chicago, who went 1-2 in their three preseason games, added center Sylvia Fowles in the 2008 draft and selected point guard Kristi Toliver with the 3rd pick in this year's draft. With these additions, along with team scoring leaders Jia Perkins and Candice Dupree, the Sky are looking to give the Lynx all they handle Saturday night. The game starts at 7pm at the Target Center.
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