Stepping Up For Seimone
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When Minnesota Lynx shooting guard Seimone Augustus sprained her ankle two Sundays ago against the Phoenix Mercury, Lynx Nation was curious on what exactly that meant for the short-term future of the team.
After the injury, it was acknowledged that Augustus would probably miss a week's worth of time at the minimum. For most weeks, that wouldn't have been a big deal. Last week wasn't just any week for the Lynx, though. It was a week in which they played three games after the injury; one against the Eastern Conference leaders and another against the defending WNBA champions.
The Lynx went 3-0 in those games. What went right? Who stepped up?
The obvious pick was do-it-all combo guard/forward Monica Wright who replaced Augustus in the lineup. Over the three games, Wright averaged just less than 17 points per contest, including two games of 22 points each. She also nearly had a double-double on July 11, scoring 22 points while adding a team-high nine rebounds.
"She's playing with so much energy," said point guard Lindsay Whalen of Wright. "She's such a great athlete. Now she's hitting that pull-up jumper and hitting some threes. We know she's always going to play defense and bring energy now she's turned into a very consistent scorer for us. It's been fun to see."
Wright has been stellar for the Lynx all season long, playing backup point guard, shooting guard and at times small forward. She doesn't have Whalen-like instincts to the point guard position, but that isn't necessarily a negative. Wright is able to get past her first defender and either pass it or hit her midrange jumper which has been nearly unstoppable this season. She has been a change of pace for the Lynx.
Not to rain on Wright's parade so to speak, but fans, coaches and players alike expected her to do something similar to what she's been doing. However, had Wright slumped in one of those games, the Lynx might not have come away with a win, so it shouldn't be taken for granted.
After Augustus went down with her ankle injury, team leader Lindsay Whalen told her team that everyone needed to step up a little, but not try to do too much.
It's tough to argue with four wins over seven days.
Here's a list of the players who have stepped up during Seimone's injury:
One of the greatest strengths of Whalen as a player is that she knows when to turn on the scoring switch and when to be passive. Sometimes she does a combination of the two. Nobody quite knows how she does it.
In her last three games, Whalen has averaged more than 22 points, and on Saturday against Tulsa, she became the first player in WNBA history to have 25 or more points and 11 or more assists in a game twice in her career. And she shot 8-for-12 from the field. Not a bad day.
Whalen has played more than 30 minutes as well in those three games, so the five day break before the Lynx take on the Silver Stars on Friday really couldn't have come at a better time.
To say Brunson stepped up her game lately might not be fair. Of all of the Lynx, she might be the most consistent. However, in her last three games, she's had two double-doubles. The most impressive coming on Saturday against Tulsa when she finished with 17 points and 12 rebounds.
Brunson joined fans for a Google+ Hangout on Tuesday afternoon. I was the "host" but no hosting was necessary as the fans had some excellent questions. You can watch the complete video here.
Moore, perhaps the best all-around player on the Lynx, has had an odd season. She's scored 20 or more points seven times, but she's scored less than 10 points three times.
In the first game after the injury, Moore scored 19 points in the nationally televised game against the Atlanta Dream. She was only the team's third leading scorer, but she was 7-for-8 from the field.
Against Angel McCoughtry and her 3.5 steals per game, that's pretty impressive.
Rodgers has emerged as the team's most-played rookie. But it's not for what she was known for in college. In college, Rodgers was her team's offense. She did everything for that Georgetown team.
For the Lynx, she thought she'd help out with the offense, but she learned quickly that wasn't needed.
Rodgers realized that she needed this team more than the team needed her.
Tough to believe that Rodgers was almost a roster cut back in training camp.
In her last three games, Rodgers has played 16 or more minutes twice and her game against Atlanta was the best and most meaningful of her short career. The former Georgetown star scored five points, hauled in four rebounds, had three assists and had two steals.
Her offense has struggled this season, but eventually, she'll turn it around. She has the offensive skills. We saw that when she was a Hoya.
When could we see Seimone next?
Augustus had a solid day of practice today, and even made some cuts. Tomorrow will likely decide whether or not Augustus will play against an injury-plagued San Antonio team.
Obviously this team is better off with the Olympian, All-Star and Finals MVP, but if Augustus missed Friday's game, Minnesota has the appropriate pieces to help out.
Hopefully we see Augustus sooner rather than later.
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