Communicating Through Her Play

Mark Remme
Lynx Editor/Writer

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Queralt Casas isn’t afraid of a challenge. The 19-year-old from Spain has played international basketball since she was 15 and is currently trying out for the defending champion Minnesota Lynx.

And she’s doing the latter with a language barrier.

“[She’s got] a lot of courage,” Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said. “She doesn’t speak English and has never been part of the WNBA, and here she is.”

An undrafted addition to this year’s training camp, the 5-foot-11 forward is holding her own. She’s made it through two rounds of cuts and enters the team’s second week still on the roster. She’s doing it with a crafty European style of play and a quick grasp of the Lynx system. Through eight days she’s learned the ropes quickly as invitees have come and gone and veterans have returned to the team.

Though her basketball background isn’t as well known as some of the American collegiate players in camp, she’s slowly but surely showing her teammates what she can do on the court.

“She’s really young; she looks good, though,” center Jess Adair said. “I haven’t talked to her a lot—the language barrier—but I think she looks good.”

Reeve said Casas was on Minnesota’s radar for a few months and Lynx Executive Vice President Roger Griffith made the connection. She said after the team sorted out the number of invitees coming to camp, Casas was invited and signed as a free agent on April 29.

Now, she’s seeing firsthand what it takes to compete at the WNBA level.

In Europe, Casas has thrived over the past four years. She averaged 9.5 points per game and shot 43.1 percent from the floor for Mann Filter Zaragoza in the Spanish League last season. Over the past four years she’s collected 214 steals, added 175 assists and scored 1,013 points.

With Minnesota, she’s getting a lesson in taking her aggressiveness and physicality to the next level. Assistant coach Jim Petersen said the Lynx’s veterans will teach her a lot about that part of the WNBA game.

“It’s going to be tough her to keep up if she doesn’t play more physical,” Petersen said on the first day of camp. “But I like her. I think she’s an interesting player.”

From a communication standpoint, Reeve said she hasn’t slowed the team down. She’s been able to pick up plays through hand gestures, watching other players and simply understanding schemes within the game.

“Sometimes in basketball you can use hand signals and point, pass here, shoot,” Reeve said. “I think these guys did a great job with her. I saw them going over and showing her some things. But I’ll tell you what, I was impressed. It can really be overwhelming, and I don’t think she let it show that it was overwhelming at all.”

Reeve said some of the lessons she’s learning with the Lynx will be applicable throughout her career, whether it’s in the WNBA or in Europe.

“She’s considered a young talent in Spain that’s going to be competing on some of the top teams in the Spanish League,” Reeve said. “So I think it will be productive for her.”

Day 8 Camp Notes

  • The Minnesota Lynx today announced the team has waived guard Tavelyn James and forwards Jasmine Lee and Kayla Standish. The Lynx roster now stands at 14 players. James is Eastern Michigan University’s all-time leading scorer with 2,470 points and was named the Mid-American Conference Player of the Year as a senior. Lee played for both Georgia and Memphis in college, transferring to Memphis after her sophomore year. She averaged 15.2 points as a senior with the Tigers. Standish was selected 19th overall in this year’s WNBA Draft by the Lynx. Standish played for Gonzaga and led the team with 16.4 points per game as a senior.

  • Forward/center Taj McWilliams-Franklin and forward Amber Harris are both scheduled to make their training camp debuts on Monday. Harris arrived at practice on Sunday but did not participate.

  • For more news and notes on the team follow the Minnesota Lynx on Twitter.