There is always tons of energy at Target Center when the Lynx have a game. As a former player I always enjoyed the protocol of a game day. You become very accustomed to knowing the rituals of the day. As a broadcaster I love that I can watch the team prepare for a game. Certain games bring different dynamics. It may be a former player returning to Target Center that has everyone buzzing. Or simply a great match-up with a rival team like the L.A. Sparks. I thought I would take you with me through my day, on a game day to give you a sense of what it feels like to watch your Lynx get ready for a game.
LYNX SHOOT-AROUND: Iím extremely lucky that the Lynx allow me to watch their shoot-arounds before a game. Every coach runs a shoot around a bit differently. Some treat it very lightly and have the players walk through their own plays and the opposing teams plays. Others run it more like a practice. I would say Coach Reeveís shoot around is in the middle. The players come onto the main floor at Target Center. Most of the Lynx practices are in Lifetime Fitness so getting on the home court is key. The players stretch out, then they start running through plays. Depending upon which assistant coach has the scout for that game, they will run the players through all of the key plays. The first team will run through everything and then the reserves go through it. After that the coach talks to the team about the keys to the game. They shoot some half-court shots to loosen things up and thatís it. Usually the opposing team is waiting to get on the court so 45 minutes to an hour is all you get. Whatís interesting is you can usually get a feel for how the players are feeling during this time. If there wasnít a lot of energy, or if the team looks really jacked up to play. Itís a good way to get a sense of how the team is feeling about the ensuing battle.
Usually broadcasters are expected to get to the arena about two hours in front of the game. This allows you watch the teams warm up. You are also able to talk to coaches once again and chat with players and coaches from the opposing team. I take this time to go over my notes and to chat with Marney Gellner (play by play announcer) about the game. We will discuss the open for the broadcast and other themes we may be focusing on. Everyone is usually pretty laid back at this point. When the players leave the court and head to the locker room, this represents the end of all chit-chat amongst teams. The next time we see the team they will be running onto the court for their formal warm-up. Game faces are now on. You can see and feel the difference as the players and coaches focuses on the task at hand.
Everything right before game time is consistent and timed-out. Players like knowing exactly how many minutes they have to warm up before they line up for the national anthem. The players head to the bench where the starters will take a seat and the reserves line up. It can be very disrupting if the team gets approval to move things around before a game for a special announcement and that is why the league only allows if for it special situations. Once the game tips, you get to see how the teams look. Does the team have a lot of energy or are they exhausted from road travel? Sometimes players play bad and there is no reason why. While watching the Lynx battle the L.A. Sparks on Wednesday night I was struck by Lindsey Whalenís energy. So focused, so sure of what she was doing. She dished out a career high 14 assists. At the end of the game Marney and I interviewed Lindsay and she too was surprised by her own stats. In the moment of the game she didnít even know that she was making history. Game ended with a Minnesota win. I feel as if I learn something new every game when I watch the Lynx play. Over time the cycle you go through to prepare for a game seems the same, but in reality itís different each and every time! Thatís why I love it!
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