Thursday Practice Report

Lindsey Harding drove to the basket and missed a floater to tie the game late in regulation of Tuesday’s overtime win over Washington. The ball fell off the rim and the win seemed assured, but Chasity Melvin was underneath basket and grabbed the offensive rebound for the easy put back.

It left the game tied with 4.9 seconds left and a lot of consternation for the Lynx.

Minnesota struggled for the second straight game on the boards Tuesday night, giving up 16 offensive rebounds and 20 second-chance points. In last week’s home loss to Sacramento, the team gave up 22 second chance points on 15 offensive rebounds.

In the last two games, the Lynx have been outrebounded by an average of 10.0 rebounds per game. A concerning sign for a team fighting at the top of the Western Conference.

Coach Jen Gillom said the team has lost some of its focus on the defensive end, but with teams coming at Minnesota more than ever, it has to focus even more on securing those possessions.

“We have that speed, we have that length and we have the mobility. We should be better at those things,” Gillom said. “I think maybe they’re focusing too much on scoring points than they are on defense. I said there’s going to be some nights when those baskets are not going to be made and you have to rely on your defense.”

The Lynx do have a high-scoring offense, but the defense has struggled as teams apply more pressure on them and give them more notice and respect. Sacramento and Washington’s high-pressure defense caused problems for Minnesota as the team tried to enter its offense.

Gillom said rebounding and defense have been the team’s weaknesses this season. But it is something the team can focus and improve on. She said Minnesota should receive a firm challenge defensively against an efficient and experienced San Antonio team Friday and Sunday.

Luckily for the Lynx, perhaps, the Silver Stars are ranked below them in rebounds. Minnesota grabs 31.4 rebounds per game, ranking them 11th in the league. The team also gives up 35.3 boards per game, also 11th in the league, including an average of 10.6 offensive rebounds per game.

Rebounding clearly is not the team’s strongest suit. But the Lynx know it is something they must improve to be a serious factor this season.

“Number one it’s a mindset,” Charde Houston said. “Number two it’s working on it in practice, recognizing your weaknesses and working to improve them. Ever since the Seattle game, we’ve been working to improve. Things don’t come overnight. But as long as you strive to make them better, you’ll improve.”

Nicky Anosike leads the team in rebounding – and is ninth in the league – with 6.9 per game. Houston is behind her, grabbing 5.3 rebounds per game.

But Gillom said the team cannot just rely on its post players to secure rebounds. With strong, tall guards like Diana Tarausi and Candace Parker, everyone has to be involved on the glass.

Regaining the focus on the glass and on defense must come from the team itself and they must find their footing quickly to maintain Minnesota’s hot start.

“Those things come from effort,” Gillom said. “Those things come from effort. Those things you can’t teach. You have to want those things. I told them, if they want to be in the playoffs, if they do those things, we will win ball games.”

Jen Gillom Audio
Jen Gillom says the defense and rebounding have been the team's weaknesses so far, but an increased focus and effort in those areas can make the team a real playoff contender.

Chrade Houston Audio
Charde Houston says the team has been working hard in practice the last two days on rebounding and defense in preparation for Friday's matchup with San Antonio.

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