Practice Report: Monday, August 6
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It’s been 25 days since the Minnesota Lynx played their last regular season game, and in that elapsed time the team has rested, regained its health and fine tuned some of the nuances of their game that needed sharpening heading into the second half of the season.
On Monday at the LifeTime Fitness Training Center, the Lynx were not only missing their three starters playing for Team USA, but they were also missing coach Cheryl Reeve who made the trip to London. In her absence, assistant coaches Jim Petersen and Shelley Patterson ran the show and continued fine tuning the Lynx’s fundamentals and game strategies as they continue practicing through this month-long hiatus.
One group who has benefited from the break has been the Lynx back court reserves, a group made up of Monica Wright, Candice Wiggins and Erin Thorn. The three have been working overtime during the past few weeks getting additional time on the court.
“Obviously we’re missing three, plus a couple people out with little things here and there,” Wright said. “We’re able to get a lot of reps, lots of reps running up and down the court, lots of reps on defense. We’re working—everybody’s working. Nobody is taking subs or taking two plays off. Everyone is in one rep after the other.”
Last week Reeve said if there’s any part of the team that can handle those extra reps, it’s going to be those three guards.
“Wiggins and E and Monnie can run all day,” Reeve said last week. “If I could pick three perimeter players to have here to be in every rep, it would be them. They can handle it, and their feeling is it’s good for the team. They’re not feeling sorry for themselves, and we have a great group. The practices have been fun, what we’ve been doing has been fun. And we really have no choice. We don’t play for a while.”
Five of the Lynx players still with the team during the break have never been through a mid-season break this long before, as they joined the league in the four years since the last Olympics. For athletes used to playing games every few days, that type of change could be difficult to handle. But the Lynx seemed to be enjoying the mid-season break not only because it allows them to sharpen their skills but it is also allowing them to get healthy.
During the last week of the first half, Minnesota was missing three key members of their front court in Rebekkah Brunson, Jess Adair and Devereaux Peters.
“I don’t think the break could have come at a better time for us,” Patterson said. “We had so many injuries. I bet a team like San Antonio was like, ‘Oh, heck,’ because they were on a serious run there. It does give us an opportunity, even if it’s not just physically or mentally. A mental break away from the game, having weekends off, I think going into the second half of the season is really going to pay dividends for us.”
In the meantime, the Lynx are continuing to do a mix of full court scrimmages and individual drills. On Monday, the team broke up into bigs on one end of the court and guards on the other end. One on one drills ensued working on specific ball-handling and post-up situations.
Wright said the biggest benefit of the past few weeks has been focusing internally. Opponents are not the priority at the moment—the Lynx are focusing within.
“We’ve been doing a lot of stuff as far as going over plays, getting chemistry down,” Wright said. “It’s the same stuff we’ve been doing, but we’ve been able to focus more on it. Usually during the season it’s like scouting reports, getting right to the next game. Now it’s like we’re focusing more on ourselves.”
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