Wright No Longer Settling For Jumpers

Mark Remme
Lynx Editor/Writer

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Monica Wright’s teammates and coaches don’t hold back superlatives while describing her ability on the court. Ask coach Cheryl Reeve and she’ll use the words elite, athletic and strong. Lindsay Whalen focused on Wright’s ability to adjust her game.

Guard Seimone Augustus simply said Wright is built to get to the rim.

“We always laugh about it because she’s got some of the biggest shoulders on the team,” Augustus said. “She’s got that football build, and she uses them well. She turns that corner, and it’s like money in the bank.”

That’s the part of her game Wright has noticeably improved through two preseason games. Once described as a mid-range shooter, she is now beginning to use that athleticism she possesses and take it to the basket. It was a big part of her game on Tuesday, an 82-61 win over the Chicago Sky at the University of Minnesota Sports Pavilion.

And if she continues to bring that ferocity to the court, it could pose big problems for Minnesota’s opponents throughout the 2012 campaign.

“She really took to heart some of the things we talked about, being able to get to the rim and finish,” Reeve said. “She’s my player where when the defense gets intense and really gets pushed up on us, she’s so fast and explosive. She can get by you.”

Against the Sky, Wright was a force off the bench. She finished the game 6-of-9 from the floor with 14 points, and she did it with a mixture of jump shots and drives to the basket. Her aggressiveness gave Minnesota’s offense a much-needed spark in the first half; while the Lynx performed admirably from start to finish defensively, it wasn’t until Wright’s drive and score with 4:01 left in the first that they really took over the contest. That basket started Minnesota’s 14-4 run and led to a 21-point victory.

Reeve said Wright has added poise to her game this season, and Wright agreed. Playing each day with Olympians like Whalen and Augustus can only help her game, she said.

“I’ve just learned to slow down in my older days,” said Wright, now in her third year in the league. “I’m not as like, trying to be fast at everything. It’s about being quick but not in a hurry.”

She said there are two prime examples of that on the Lynx roster.

“Watching my veteran players, they do a great job of going slow to fast—changing speeds,” Wright said. “Lindsay Whalen is probably one of the better ones at it, and Seimone Augustus is another one that I look to for watching how her speed during the game changes and how she’s deceiving defenders all around. So I’ve got a lot of great people to learn from.”

Wright’s averaged 8.4 points per game in her career and is a 37.2 percent shooter from the floor. But with her new approach and her ability to get to the rim, those numbers could go up this season.

“I think that comes with confidence,” Augustus said. “Monnie had to find herself within our system. Getting to the rack, getting to the middle, getting to the paint is her thing.”

Practice notes

One day after the Lynx finalized their 2012 roster by trimming their personnel down to 11 players, Augustus praised both forwards Julie Wojta and Queralt Casas, the final two players waived during training camp.

Wojta, the team’s 18th overall selection in this year’s draft, impressed her Lynx teammates and coaches with her offensive talent. She finished her two preseason games shooting 4-for-8 with nine points and nine rebounds in 28 minutes.

Augustus said her future is bright.

“Julie was amazing,” Augustus said. “Just a really tough player. She played post in college; of course she’s going to be undersized here, but she’s got so much fight in her. I’m quite sure another team is going to pick her up. She’s going to get a chance to play in the WNBA some day.”

Casas, who at age 19 came to Minnesota’s training camp with limited experience speaking English, was constantly praised for being able to pick up the schemes and drills and executing them well without being able to fully understand the language. Reeve said not only is she talented, but she rises to the occasion.

“The one thing we learned about her is she’s a gamer,” Reeve said. “She hits the winning basket at Connecticut. When there’s pressure, she has the ability to get by you.”

Augustus said Casas is another player with a bright future.

“You can tell she has a lot of potential and she has a lot of upside,” Augustus said. “As she continues to grow internationally, her opportunity in the WNBA will come and I think she’ll take full advantage of it.”

With the roster trims, the Lynx return nine of their 11 players from last year and added free agent Erin Thorn and rookie Devereaux Peters.

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