Mama Taj, Peters Begin Mentorship


Mark Remme
Lynx Editor/Writer

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Rookie forward Devereaux Peters caught Taj McWilliams-Franklin’s attention during her days at Notre Dame because of her court vision, her steady passing ability and her sure-handedness at the post. It’s why Mama Taj gave coach Cheryl Reeve her full endorsement to select Peters with the third overall pick in April’s WNBA Draft.

Now back in camp, McWilliams-Franklin is seeing firsthand what Peters can do. Taking a chance during a half-court set this week, Peters found a narrow seam and made a successful pass to Jess Adair that made the 13-year veteran do a double-take.

“She got it through and I was like, ‘OK, OK, I see it,’” McWilliams Franklin said. “She’s always looking. And like I said, a lot of us, the fours, we initiate from the post. And I like it. I like her, and I think she’s got a lot of potential for our league and for our team.”

No doubt, McWilliams-Franklin has the eye for talent. She’s a two-time WNBA champion who entered the league in 1999, and in her first season with the Lynx last year she became the avenue through which the team’s offense flowed. Taking passes from Lindsay Whalen or Seimone Augustus, Mama Taj is tasked with making the next read and finding an open target.

She had that in mind when she watched Peters’ collegiate film. Now, McWilliams-Franklin is seizing this opportunity in hopes of developing Peters for this year and beyond. Both 6-foot-2 power forwards, the veteran Mama Taj has a chance to mentor the rookie Peters into one day replacing her on the roster.

“When I watched her and coach told me the list of people she was thinking about, I was like I’m all for Devereaux. Pick her first,” McWilliams-Franklin said. “For me, it’s about building your bigs and for the future. In 10 years, I want the Minnesota Lynx to still be great.”

Even in her first two days at camp, being able to watch McWilliams-Franklin has translated into calming Peters’ nerves and picking up little nuances of the Lynx system.

Peters admits she still has jitters in her first camp, but hearing that veterans like McWilliams-Franklin have confidence in her goes a long way toward building confidence.

“She’s been very helpful since she’s been back and really molded me and helped me to get where I needed to be,” Peters said.

Offensively, the two put up comparable numbers a year ago. McWilliams-Franklin averaged 8.3 points and 2.3 assists per game while pulling down 6.0 rebounds a night for the Lynx. Peters averaged 11.8 points, 2.12 assists and 9.3 rebounds per game for the Irish, helping Notre Dame eventually reach the NCAA championship game.

Peters said right now she sees a big difference between herself and McWilliams-Franklin because of the veteran’s calculated presence on the court. Mama Taj knows where she needs to be and what she wants to do once she gets the basketball, while Peters is still using youthful aggressiveness to lead the way. If she makes a mistake, it won’t be due to lack of hustle.

Refining her moves and getting more comfortable with the system comes with time, but McWilliams-Franklin is helping to speed up that learning curve.

“She talks a lot,” Peters said. “She’s very verbal as far as where I need to go, what I need to change, what position I need to be in. She’s very vocal in letting me know everything I need to know.”

From Minnesota’s standpoint, Peters is ahead of the curve.

Reeve consistently comments on Peters’ presence even as a young rookie, lumping her more in with the veterans on the roster than with the other new additions to training camp. Those same things McWilliams-Franklin outlined while watching Peters in college—her hands, her passing and her vision—translated into a what you see is what you get product through the first week of camp.

McWilliams-Franklin said she also sees Peters’ potential on the defensive end.

“She has a tenacity on defense that I really used to have but not so much since I’ve gotten older,” McWilliams-Franklin said. “Almost a meanness, which got her in foul trouble a lot at Notre Dame. But that’s college. In the pros, you can get away with beating up on some people a little more than college.”

McWilliams-Franklin isn’t wasting time passing along veteran advice, and Peters is more than happy to soak up as much knowledge about the game as she can.

The future is getting her start right here in 2012, under Mama Taj’s guidance.

“The things she did for [Notre Dame], we need here,” McWilliams-Franklin said. “I definitely could probably play for another five years, but I won’t.”

Day 10 Camp Notes

  • The Lynx had their first two-a-day practice of the season on Tuesday, doing both work on the court as well as hitting the weights after their first practice session. All 14 players still on the training camp roster were present, including the last three to return to camp: McWilliams-Franklin, Rebekkah Brunson and Amber Harris. "We really want to start advancing this thiing," Reeve said. "We've got a limited number of days together."


  • Minnesota is scheduled to practice at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn., on Wednesday prior to their first exhibition game of the year on Thursday against the Connecticut Sun. When the team returns, Olympians Lindsay Whalen, Seimone Augustus and Maya Moore will not be present for team activities on May 11-13 due to Team USA’s schedule. They will practice on Friday, face China at Key Arena on Saturday and scrimmage Japan at Seattle Pacific University on Sunday, according to USAbasketball.com.



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