Simons Says - October 17, 2013
There’s nothing like it. Momentary flashes that last every day for weeks of a Championship run. Sometimes a different thought, thoughts of this and that, and a play here a defensive stop there. Sometimes it’s the same play over and over but the visions are always popping up. From the front office to trainers, the players and fans who are all left wanting more after getting it all. And now, with a second WNBA Championship trophy safely secured, Minnesota Lynx players and coaches have as quickly scattered.
It’s the bittersweet nature of the WNBA and its lightening quick season. What is Minnesota’s gain, a new Championship banner and all the emotions it brings, is devoured fast and then the players who cooked up that playoff dish, they are gone. These very talented hoopsters move on to span to globe too, from China to Turkey, the Middle East to Russia and many parts in between.
We talk about how the NBA season is a sports “marathon” but we can’t let it begin without a headline shout out to the Ladies who dominated this past summer. And the Lynx dominated.
In my mind, the most prolific WNBA team remains the Houston Comets of a decade ago but this Lynx team has all the tools to make its mark and even surpass the Swoops Crew. It’d be the first time the WNBA had its own “who’s the greatest team” debate. The NBA enjoys so many of those arguments, from the Jordan Bulls to the Magic/Kareem Lakers to the Russell Celtics.
Make no mistake: This Lynx team is special, too. After years of losing, there is very little tweaking allowed to this championship formula. Maya Moore, Seimone Augustus, Lindsay Whalen, Rebekkah Brunson, Monica Wright and Janel McCarville make up a core that is good to go for the years to come.
Looking back, three intangibles were key to the title run. One, the Lynx front office taking a flyer on McCarville. Janel joined me at GameON! TV before the season started and she admitted her “love” of the game had waned in recent years. She’d been out of the WNBA since 2011 and for just as long, lingering out of the spotlight and out of competition to match her talent. But the front office has never forgotten how special the Whalen/McCarville magic was at the U of M. It was simple. With Taj McWilliams-Franklin retiring and moving into coaching, a center was needed, McCarville was available so both sides agreed to “kick the tires.” Coaches and team doc’s worked all season to make sure Janel’s back and those little “dings” were kept in check. The results were amazing. Just roll tape to the second half of Game3 in Atlanta when McCarville dropped that sweet between the legs pass (which led to a basket) that essentially sealed the win and title! McCarville came to conquer, to revive her career and thank goodness for her visit with Whalen last year in Turkey. Back together again never was so nice.
Another “I” in my mind, the emergence of shooter and on court dynamo Monica Wright. A dynamic scorer in college, Monnie didn’t break out until the Lynx traded fan favorite and off-the-bench sparkplug Candice Wiggins. It takes foresight and, yes “guts” to trade a proven player like Wiggins but Wright was ready and right for the move. Without Monica, a title might not be had. Just ask her teammates.
The third “I” is coaching. We all know how great head coach Cheryl Reeve is and what she means to this mix. Her assistants are impressive too. This week’s GameON! guest is Jim Petersen. All 6-foot-11 of him, too. Man, did I look (and feel) small. Glad we sat for the interview (I digress). I remember Jim Pete’s NBA career like it was yesterday. From his indoctrination to the NBA with Hall of Fame coach Don Nelson in Golden State to his stellar play in Houston with Coach Bill Fitch and a certain front liner named Hakeem Olajuwon. Jim Pete has an A-plus resume and he calmly imparts his wisdom, understanding and savvy to Lynx players. The sexes might be different on the court but often the plays are the same and Jim Pete helps in more ways we see. By the way, Petersen leads GameON! this Sunday…it’s a must watch for hoops fans. We’re glad he could join us before getting some much needed R&R. And to his side, assistant coach Shelley Patterson. I go WAY back with Shelley P. I covered her as a player, a standout player, at Washington State University before there was a WNBA. Patterson was a crafty, lightning fast and strong shooting point guard. She could be a head coach and likely will be soon.
Brunson told us on her preseason visit to GameON! that the Lynx were under the radar after losing in their C’ship quest last season. Brunson admitted it was a motivator to her and her teammates. She was right. And what a season it was.
So, as we move into the fall and winter, we bundle up and prepare for the NBA season ahead, here’s to the Lynx and their second WNBA Championship. Congratulations on a job well done. For becoming only the second team to ever run the board in the playoffs. Thanks for all the good vibes that winners vicariously share with all of the rest. That was a hell of a ride!
SIMONSSAYS SHORT TAKES
In case you didn’t know, when you look at the Lynx, they are also respected league wide. In addition to having three Olympic Gold Medalists on the team, the WNBA’s All-First Team sports two Lynx stars. Lynx guard Lindsay Whalen and forward Maya Moore reside on the All-WNBA First Team. Guard Seimone Augustus is All-WNBA Second Team. This season is the third time in Whalen’s 10-year career she’s earned All-WNBA First Team honors, the first for Moore and the fourth time Augustus has been named to the All-WNBA Second Team. This year marks the first time in franchise history the Lynx have had two representatives selected to the All-WNBA First Team. Well deserved. Next week, the Wolves as they open the NBA season.
SimonsSays on TV/PODcast You can now get SimonsSays in new PODcast form with player sound and insight/input from fans just like you! Keep an eye out for SimonsSays PODcast at Timberwolves.com each and every week. And there is always a Wolves update on my TV show, GameON! Don’t miss an episode of the Emmy nominated GameON! at 10 a.m. this Sunday morning on FOX’s My29 and throughout the weekend regionally on MidCo Sports Net. This week GameON! features Jim Petersen of the Lynx, Former Vikings & Gustavus receiver Ryan Hoag, Legal Insider Terry Moore and Fantasy Football “Guru” Jeremy Johnson.
GameON! is powered by Taste of the NFL & Budweiser and is broadcast in High Definition and can be found on ITunes, on demand via our new GameON! App (free and available for Apple/Android) and online at www.gameontvmn.com. GameON! allows you the opportunity to get up close and personal, to meet your favorite players and fellow fans at our weekly taping location Uptown at Bar Abilene. GameON! offers in-depth interviews with the top players, great food, sports newsmakers and we get you inside your favorite teams (including the Wolves). We’d love for you to “like” us on Facebook at GameOnTvMN. Drop me a note, Rod@KTWIN.com GameON! is also seen in North & South Dakota and Western Minnesota on MidCo SportsNet several times a weekend. We reserve the right to use your e-mails here in SimonsSays at Timberwolves.com.
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As we have for years, we talk Wolves. Every day. High’s & lows. We’re there because we are fans, just like you! Keep your GameON! See you soon!