Minnesota Lynx: 2006 Preview

For most teams, rebuilding takes awhile. Not so in Minnesota, where the Lynx retooled their roster faster than Evelyn Wood can read The Cat in the Hat.

The project started midway through last season with the difficult, but necessary decision to trade Katie Smith, the face of the franchise since the team's inception in 1999. Smith holds nearly every Lynx team record and a handful of WNBA marks, but she played in nearly as many All-Star Games (4) as playoff games (5), never a good sign.


Jones

Recognizing that the window to win with Smith was closing, Minnesota sent her to Detroit on July 30 in exchange for Chandi Jones, Stacey Thomas and a first-round pick. Predictably, the Lynx struggled without their star. A 3-8 finish without Smith's team-leading 13.3 ppg plummeted the Lynx out of the playoffs and into the draft lottery.

October 25, 2006, will go down as a memorable day in Lynx history; the day Minnesota overcame the odds to win the WNBA Draft Lottery, giving them the first pick in the draft. Rebuilding officially came to an end on April 5 when the Lynx selected Seimone Augustus, the two-time NCAA Player of the Year, with the top pick. They used the pick acquired in the Smith deal to select Utah point guard Shona Thorburn.

Additionally, the Lynx acquired a second-round pick from Detroit and selected 6-1 forward Ambrosia Anderson from BYU. Minnesota completed its landmark day with the selection of Notre Dame guard Megan Duffy in the third round.


Augustus

In less than a season, the Lynx had acquired a new franchise player, rebuilt their aging backcourt and fortified their talented frontcourt with three young players.

Augustus makes Suzie McConnell-Serio's team a contender for the playoffs despite one of the league's youngest rosters. The 6-1 guard has the talent to take aim at Smith's lofty team scoring records. Augustus led Louisiana State to three Final Fours, averaging 19.3 points and 5.2 rebounds as a four-year starter. As a senior, she led the NCAA in scoring (22.7 ppg) and shot an astounding 56.1 percent from the field.

Thorburn was second in the nation in assists last year, leading Utah to the Elite Eight. She should inherit the starter's role since Kristi Harrower, last year's starter, isn't expected to return.

Jones figures to the top reserve. She averaged 8.1 points and a team-high 3.0 assists in her 10 game stint with Minnesota last year.

Up front, the Lynx is very deep and very tall. Starters Svetlana Abrosimova (6-2), Vanessa Hayden (6-4) and Nicole Ohlde (6-5) are back, providing a formidable trio. Depth isn't a problem with Tamika Williams (6-2) (who is recovering from recent knee surgery), free agent Adrian Williams (6-4), and last year's top pick Kristen Mann (6-2) vying for playing time with the rookie Anderson. Last year's super sub, Stacey Lovelace, was lost to Chicago in the expansion draft.


Ohlde

Ohlde, 6-5, is Minnesota's best interior player. The team's leading returning scorer (11.2), she shot 45.5 percent last year, and led the team in rebounding (5.7). Hayden took huge strides in her second season, finishing second in the league in blocks (2.2) and contributing 7.9 points and 5.3 rebounds per night.

The biggest question mark for Minnesota is the team's lack of experience and continuity. The Lynx will try to incorporate four rookies - including two expected starters - into a lineup that has only five players remaining from as recently as 2004.

Unlike last year, when the Lynx started 11-9 and limped to the finish, this team looks like one that might struggle early while their prized rookies get comfortable, then come on strong late.

MINNESOTA LYNX
2005 Results: The Lynx finished
14-20, (.412, 6th in West).
Roster | Stats | 2006 Schedule
Head coach: Suzie McConnell Serio enters her fourth season with the team.
Purchase Lynx tickets now!
2006 Probable Starters:
C:
PF:
SF:
SG:
PG:
2006 Draft Results:
Rd. 1:
Rd. 1:
Rd. 2:
Rd. 3:
2005 Leaders:
Points
Nicole Ohlde, 11.2 ppg
Rebs.
Nicole Ohlde, 5.7 rpg
Assts.
Kristi Harrower, 2.8 apg
Blocks
Vanessa Hayden, 2.19 bpg
Steals
Svetalana Abrosimova, 1.55 spg
More

Video

Stars vs. Lynx

Seimone Augustus scores 17 points, Lindsay Whalen adds 14 points as the Lynx top the Stars 87-78.

Shock vs. Mystics

Ivory Latta scores 17 points, Monique Currie adds 16 points as the Mystics top the Shock 82-77.

Sky vs. Dream

Epiphanny Prince scores 21 points, Jessica Breland adds 15 points as the Sky edge the Dream 79-75.

Courtside Countdown

Check out the Top 10 plays from last week's WNBA Action.

Liberty vs. Storm

Cappie Pondexter scores 20 points, Tina Charles adds 18 points and 14 rebounds as the Liberty defeat the Storm in overtime.