Practice Report: Tuesday, May 13
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The Minnesota Lynx had luck on their side last season on their way to the 2013 WNBA Championship.
The starting five of Lindsay Whalen (0), Seimone Augustus (3), Maya Moore (0), Rebekkah Brunson (1) and Janel McCarville (2) missed just five-combined games last season.
The team’s luck ran out in a hurry. The team is already without Monica Wright and Dev Peters, who both underwent arthroscopy surgery over the last two weeks. The team announced today that it will also be without All-Star forward Rebekkah Brunson for eight to 10 weeks after Brunson underwent surgery this morning on her left knee.
“We’ve had our fair share of really good fortunes health wise,” said Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve after Tuesday’s practice. “Looks like we’re all kind of doing this at once, getting it out of the way hopefully and keep stepping.”
Reeve noted that Brunson had a severe case of tendinitis throughout last season, so this news isn’t exactly something that shocked her, but still doesn’t make it any easier to deal with.
When an athlete plays pretty much year-round like Brunson does, these injuries are unfortunately bound to happen.
The 32-year-old believes she has plenty of basketball left in her, according to Reeve, and decided it would be better to get it out of the way now and play pain free, rather than wait.
To say that Brunson has been a big part of this team’s success would be an understatement. The former Georgetown star has been with the Lynx since 2010 and hasn’t averaged less than 10 points and 8.9 rebounds per game since. She also made three All-Star games with the Lynx and was named to the WNBA All-Defensive First Team back in 2011.
The Lynx have always had the mantra of “man (or woman) down, man up.” They will have to switch that to “three down, three up.”
“Someone has to step up. That’s 14-15 rebounds a game that we’re going to be missing out on, that’s energy, that’s hustle,” Augustus said. “That’s our defensive anchor, so someone has to step up in many different areas. Someone may have to grab three or four more rebounds; someone might have to take the tough defensive assignment in the post. It’s going to be a total team effort.”
Who Replaces Her?
Like Augustus and Reeve preached, there’s not one player on this roster who can replace Brunson, along with Wright and Peters. Instead it will have to be a team effort early on this season.
One player to always keep an eye on is Moore. We saw her play some power forward last season when the team went with a small lineup. Reeve has hinted a few times in Training Camp that the team could slide her there and create some mismatches on the offensive end of the ball.
“She’s improved a lot (at the four),” Augustus said. “I mean, offensively we have the advantage as far as that goes, defensively she knows that people are going to try to attack her and people are going to try to get her in foul trouble and bang her up a little bit to get her tired... She’s grown, she’s matured.”
That looks like it will be more of a necessity than an option for the Lynx at this point. The team currently has Damiris Dantas, Janel McCarville, Waltiea Rolle and Asia Taylor on the roster as post players. Dantas, Taylor and Rolle have yet to play a single WNBA regular-season minute. After the team announced it waived guard Christina Foggie this morning, there is still one more player that will be cut before Thursday’s deadline to get rosters down to 12.
That leaves Reeve with a tough decision. Reeve said at practice that the final roster spot is between Dantas, Rolle, Taylor and first-round draft pick Tricia Liston, who was pure cash from the 3-point line during Tuesday’s practice.
With Dantas playing some time with the starters and Taylor putting up 18 points in Sunday’s preseason championship game, it would appear as if that final spot is between Liston and Rolle. To go with the size or the scoring. That’s a very tough decision Reeve has to make and the Brunson injury certainly doesn’t make things any easier.
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