Day 6: Louisville Prepared Asia Taylor For Lynx's Winning Tradition

Mark Remme
Lynx Editor/Writer

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Asia Taylor understands expectations and what it takes to succeed on the basketball court. Her particular class left Louisville with the most wins in program history, and during that time she and her teammates learned the key to success on a nightly basis.

“Nobody cared who got the credit,” Taylor said. “That was the biggest thing. It wasn’t, ‘Oh, this is my night to score. This is my night to get my average.’ It was, did we get the win in the locker room? If we didn’t, nobody was OK with it.”

Sound familiar? That’s the mindset the Lynx organization has preached and preached during this three year reign of WNBA supremacy, and in order to fuel that desire to keep winning and raise banners Minnesota continues to look for young players through the draft that understand that mindset.

Taylor is one of those players.

The 6-foot-1 forward is working through camp this week hoping to have a shot to make the Lynx 2014 regular season roster and help this team continue to thrive. It didn’t take long for Taylor to see why Minnesota has been so successful; even though the majority of their starters and veterans haven’t returned quite yet, she quickly identified the level of excellence the Lynx pursue in every drill, every offensive set and every defensive possession.

“They definitely set the standard here,” Taylor said. “I wouldn’t want to go to a place that wasn’t like this, you know? They definitely have a standard and thrive for something every year. And they want to repeat. I would love to be part of that, and I know they’re going to tell me everything it takes to get there. I’m excited for the process.”

The Lynx have been fortunate over the past few years to draft players who not only come from those winning traditions at the collegiate level, but also players who fit the mindset of continued drive and success. Maya Moore is the epitome of winning—her success at UConn is well documented. Devereaux Peters fit that description in 2012 as a highly-driven player coming from the success Notre Dame’s program built. You go down the roster, and you’ll see players who came from winning traditions in college and have built on those winning ways.

Moore said there’s no doubt it makes a difference.

“It gives you a lot of confidence, I think, to know I’ve been trained well and I’ve been set up for success as far as the fundamentals it takes to be a great basketball player,” Moore said. “Having good teammates around you helps you be better and ready to play with other great teammates at the next level.”

Taylor’s Louisville class racked up 107 wins during her time with the Cardinals. She was a big part of that, as was the team’s leading scorer and All-American Shoni Schimmel—who was selected eighth overall by Atlanta. Schimmel led the team with 17.4 points per game, and Taylor added 10.8 per night.

Coach Cheryl Reeve said she could tell the importance Taylor held on that Louisville squad, because when Taylor was able to thrive on the court it opened up more opportunities for Schimmel. When she struggled, it affected Schimmel’s game.

“I thought what Asia Taylor did for that team was really, really important,” Reeve said. “She was a pretty good passing post. She could slash to the basket. She got rebounds. And she was that player who, if you didn’t pay attention to her, would make you pay.”

In camp, Taylor is standing out thanks to her demeanor. Now, Reeve said she needs to consistently play instinctually.

“I love her confidence in herself,” Reeve said. “I know I like her game, because I watched it at Louisville a ton. At times, I see a really instinctive player, and at other times she’s thinking she has that moment of where she’s trying to please us instead of just playing. So she’s trying to find that balance.”

Moore said she can see the potential, and the abilities to slash and rebound are both definitely there.

“She’s got the ability to do a lot of good things on the court. Hopefully she’ll get stronger, and we’ll see,” Moore said. “I think she’s got the foundation to only get better.”

For now, Taylor is working each day to solidify her spot on this team. There are no guarantees, as she was a third-round selection this spring. Still, she’s confident that her background of winning and her confidence on the court will earn her a place on the depth chart.

In the meantime, she’s taking in everything the Lynx are throwing her way. There’s a reason Minnesota won two titles in three years, and Taylor’s hoping to learn each day and continue to grow.

Not surprisingly, Moore is right in the middle of the mentoring.

“Veterans especially Maya, she doesn’t owe anybody anything—she doesn’t owe me or talking to me or trying to help me through it. But because she does that, I know she wants to win,” Taylor said. “If she didn’t, she wouldn’t try to make us better. She wants to win, and I want to be part of a group like that.”

Quick Hits:

  • Lindsay Whalen, Seimone Augustus, Rebekkah Brunson, Janel McCarville and Devereaux Peters were not at practice again on Saturday—they’ve missed the first week of camp due to overseas commitments. But they’ll be back soon. Peters is expected to practice tomorrow and play in Monday’s preseason opener against Australia at Target Center. Whalen, Augustus, Brunson and McCarville aren’t expected to practice on Sunday or play Monday, but they could be back in the building on Sunday afternoon as the Lynx have one last practice before they take the court on Monday night.

  • The Lynx scrimmaged against the male practice squad on Saturday on the Target Center main floor, and it was a pretty authentic rehearsal for the team’s preseason opener. Referees were on the court officiating, and the Lynx’s coaching staff got a better feel for which combinations to play with one another, which ones to avoid, and which players stood out. “We saw some good things from each of the players, and then it also gave us a gauge for what we have to work on,” Reeve said.

    Maya Moore agreed. She only played roughly the first quarter of the scrimmage in order to get the rookies and new additions to the team more time for evaluation. “More than anything, it’s taking a lot of new players and trying to mold them into the identity of this team,” Moore said. “Just as far as their defensive mentality, their toughness.”

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