Riding the high from winning the gold with Team USA last weekend, Seimone Augustus, Lindsay Whalen and Maya Moore wasted no time getting back into the WNBA groove this week jumping headfirst into practice drills once they returned to Minnesota. And based on the way they've been playing in the WNBA this season, the team's three superstars could lead their team to a second WNBA title this season.
�We realize what we have,� Moore told LynxBasketball.com. �The coaching staff does a great job of making sure we have fun. We enjoy every day. There won�t be a problem of not getting excited. We�re going to be excited.�
For some of the other members of the team, having the Olympic break did wonders, especially for Taj Mc-Williams Franklin. The 13-year veteran center said during a conference call with reporters the time off helped her rest for what is bound to be an aggressive second half of the season.
"I think most veterans would say that they love the break," she said. "Coming back in and just slowly acclimating back into our normal practice times, practice speed, has helped tremendously as far as saving your legs, being able to play harder, longer, in the end while you're vying for a playoff spot. Having allowed your vets to rest now, you have a bigger push during the final part of the season, during the playoffs."
The Lynx may be the favorite going into the second half of the season as the team likely to win it all, but their race to the top spot will be anything but a guaranteed one. Diana Taurasi returning to her explosive self after rehabbing from an injury and Lauren Jackson returning after practicing with the Australian national team makes their respective teams -- the Phoenix Mercury and Seattle Storm, both past WNBA champs -- tougher to beat in the second half of the season.
�Bringing back Lauren Jackson and Diana Taurasi full speed, it�s going to make it that much harder for the Minnesota Lynx in the West,� McWilliams-Franklin said. �But we�re going to take all the challenges we need to prove that we deserve to be in first place.�
The sophomore forward for the Lynx has blossomed this season into becoming a full-fledged WNBA superstar. During the team's last game against the Tulsa Shock before the Olympic break, she racked up 29 points in the game - 19 of them in just one quarter.
She's already averaging 15 points and five rebounds a season so don't expect scoring frenzies like the one against the Shock to be a fluke. And putting up numbers like that at age 23, she could potentially become one of the biggest WNBA stars the league has seen in quite some time.
� Aman Ali, WNBA.com