Practice Report: Wednesday, Sept. 26
Web Editorial Associate
Although three-time WNBA MVP Lauren Jackson will be playing against the Lynx for the first time this year, the Minnesota post players don't plan on changing much about their philosophy against Seattle.
"[Seattle] won a lot of games," forward Rebekkah Brunson said after practice on Wednesday. "They made it here without her; you can't just focus on Lauren."
Jackson, a 6-foot-6 post player, sat out the first part of the WNBA season to prepare for an Olympic run with the Australian National Team. She helped win a Bronze medal for her country this summer, adding some more hardware to her silver medals earned in 2000, 2004 and 2008.
Despite the added presence of a decorated veteran, Minnesota center Taj McWilliams-Franklin prefers to focus on Seattle as a whole rather than zeroing in on one player.
"The good thing is that we know Lauren," McWilliams-Franklin said. "Even if she wasn't here, for us post players, we aren't doing anything different. She played last year, and we had great success against Seattle. For us it's about focusing on the Minnesota Lynx and what we do well. The defense against Lauren will be the same that we played against Tina [Thompson], [Ann] Wauters, [Camille] Little, they have such a dynamic post presence. You can't make specific changes based on one person, because then you have four other posts to deal with."
Brunson echoed her post teammate.
"They're all good," Brunson said. "You can't start forgetting people because Lauren's back; you need to focus on everybody because they have a lot of good players. We are going to try and defend them as a team and not get consumed by Lauren or Sue Bird."
Contrast in styles
While Seattle averaged 71.2 points per game during the regular season, Minnesota logged a league-best 86 PPG. The tempo of this upcoming playoff series promises to be interesting, as the Storm seem to play a slower brand of possession basketball than the fast-paced Lynx.
"I did not know that until coach mentioned it today," McWilliams-Franklin said referring to each team's scoring average. "I think that's a [Seattle coach] Brian Agler staple. Even when I played against him in the past, it's about slowing down possessions and defending. It's a series, not one game. Impose your will, and that team will win the series."
Mama Taj goes to Washington—again
When the 2011 WNBA Champion Lynx visited the White House on September 18, President Barack Obama remarked on the key players during their championship run last fall. When he got to McWilliams-Franklin, though, he added in a personal nickname that she has come to embrace.
"They won it on the heart and grit of Taj McWilliams-Franklin," Obama said, referring to the 2011 Finals. "Mama Taj played the final game on a sprained knee and still managed to secure the paint."
McWilliams-Franklin was behind the president with a grin on her face.
"My husband was in the audience and he laughed," said the veteran center. "It's just hilarious. Whoever told him about 'Mama Taj' was so funny. I was like, 'The president just called me Mama Taj!' It was kind of cute."
This wasn't McWilliams-Franklin's first time meeting Obama; she was a part of the Detroit Shock's 2008 championship squad—the first team to be honored by the newly-elected president.
"(Detroit) won in 2008, and we were the first sports team in there," McWilliams-Franklin said. "We still haven't met [First Lady] Michelle, and they say I'd like her. I thought she'd be there, but she was out campaigning.
"It was such an honor, and I was so excited to be there."
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