Lynx Right At Home At All-Star Game
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Most WNBA players had the past weekend relaxing, perhaps around family and friends.
You could argue that there were four Lynx players who were with their family and friends as well, but they were also playing basketball.
If it seemed like the All-Star Game had been taken over by the Lynx, that's probably because it was. Lindsay Whalen, Seimone Augustus, Maya Moore and Rebekkah Brunson were all in Connecticut over the weekend to take part in Saturday's All-Star Game. They were joined by coach Cheryl Reeve, assistants Jim Petersen and Shelley Patterson along with team athletic trainer Chuck Barta.
"It was really comfortable and just fine," Moore said. "This team really enjoys being around each other. We have a great time. We're not one of those teams that can't wait to go home and get away. We truly do enjoy being around each other, especially the captains that I get to hang out with the most because they are real pros, very selfless teammates."
Each player had a successful day. Brunson logged her first All-Star Game double-double. Augustus was 6-of-10 from the field. Moore finished third on the team with 14 points, while Whalen scored eight points off the bench on the way to a 102-98 West win.
While all of those numbers are impressive, the most important thing over the "break" was for the players to get, well, a break. That wasn't exactly the case for those involved in the All-Star festivities.
"We weren't practicing two hours a day, the usual grind if you will, but they were on the go all the time but it was good stuff," Reeve said. "Probably more than anything else in an All-Star Game is to spend time with ten fans. We had a light practice that was fan oriented, so you get that interaction. It's not as physically taxing as maybe practice would be, but it's on your feet pretty much all day. You're doing appearances and you know all the way through and you have practices and receptions. Their time was pretty full, so I'm not sure if they got any rest besides when they got home and had yesterday off."
For the coaches, it wasn't as if they spent hours scouting the Eastern Conference All-Stars. Reeve, a "defense, defense, defense" coach noted last week that there wasn't any defense played in the game. While the staff may not have gotten away from basketball, they did get away from scouting reports and the mental grind that coaches go through on a daily basis.
"It was fun; I just had a blast sharing their moment with them. I don't know if they felt the same way about me, but I certainly felt good about being there with them," Reeve said. "Our staff, Jim, Shelley, Chuck, we really embraced the moment because it's very rare you get a chance to take time out and soak it all up and we had a chance to do that and it was fun."
What is always an odd dynamic is from going from enemies and opponents for the first 17 games, then all of the sudden being teammates with players like Diana Taurasi of Phoenix or Candace Parker of L.A. These are players that Minnesota fans have viewed as rivals for quite some time.
Is there a switch that has to be turned on or off when playing with or against these players?
The thing is, for Augustus, Moore and Whalen, they have played with some of these players as teammates before in the Olympics, and given the laid-back mood at the All-Star Game, it's pretty easy to put their guard down—for a weekend at least.
"It's fun to be able to not compete against some of them like we have been for the majority of our lives as pros to be able to enjoy how good they are and not be angry about it," Moore said with a smile. "It's really just to celebrate basketball, that's what the weekend was about. To celebrate where our game is at and the talent our league has."
"You take time out and you get to see a different side of them... Now you got to go back to scheming against them. It was nice having (Kristi)Toliver making shots for us, than against us, same thing with Parker, it was nice having her go end to end for us and not against us. That part was fun," Reeve said with a laugh.
Toliver and Parker, both members of the Sparks, finished with a combined 44 points, while Parker won the game's MVP Award.
For the Lynx, it was a nice win, something they are familiar with, but they viewed it more as a learning and bonding experience.
"Whether it's (Lindsay) Whalen making some joke like she makes, or Seimone making an impression of somebody or (Brunson) with her infectious laugh. We had a great time and I know that our coaches had a great time," Moore said.
Now it's time for that fun to continue with the rest of her team going into the second half of the season.
"I think we have a pretty good balance of having fun and knowing when to get after it."
For some teams, they might be looking towards the Western Conference Championship or even the WNBA Finals.
For the Lynx, they are worried about Friday. They host the San Antonio Silver Stars at 7 p.m.
Reeve preaches one game at a time. So far, it's worked out pretty well.
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