Dishin & Swishin 7/02/15 Podcast: Cheryl Reeve & the Minnesota Lynx chasing third WNBA title

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As the Grateful Dead head to Chicago to celebrate their 50th anniversary this weekend, it only seems fitting to talk about what a long, strange trip it’s been for the Minnesota Lynx franchise.

From 1999 through 2010, the made the WNBA playoffs exactly twice; and lost in the conference semifinals both times. The last of those years, 2010, was the first year Cheryl Reeve was head coach.

Starting the next year, the Lynx have not only made it into the playoffs, but lost in the conference finals once (to eventual champion Phoenix last season), won two WNBA titles, and lost in the finals once (to Indiana in 2012). They have had so much success that this season, even though the team sits at 7-2, a half-game out of first place, people are wondering what is wrong with the Lynx because they have not blown out their opponents.

That long, strange trip can also describe Minnesota’s schedule. The Lynx played five of the first eight games on the road, including three games in six days at Phoenix, Los Angeles and San Antonio. They returned home to play Phoenix again, on national television this past Saturday, only to sit until tomorrow night, and then they have another week until they play again.

For a veteran team like the Lynx, this is good and bad. The players like to get into the rhythm of playing games on a schedule. However, as Reeve says in the podcast, it is the non-game days she relies on to get those players rest, time off, and recovery time for nagging injuries. It allows her to play her “big four” of Maya Moore, Seimone Augustus, Lindsay Whalen, and Rebekkah Brunson 30 minutes per game on a regular basis.

This year, an added benefit of the break between games is the integration of new pieces to the puzzle. Janel McCarville is sitting out the season, and Asjha Jones is in her place on the roster. Jones missed most of training camp healing, and has not been in the WNBA for a couple of years. Before that she spent virtually her entire career in Connecticut, under one coach. She is learning the Lynx system and getting used to her role.

While Brunson seems to have found the fountain of youth after missing time injured last year, Moore, Augustus and Whalen have not gotten off to the starts people are used to seeing, and that has led to the questioning about how good the Lynx are, are they deep enough, and is this edition as good as past editions. The 71-56 dismantling of Phoenix answered some of those questions, but it will be interesting to see if this team can keep that momentum going with Seattle in town tomorrow night and so much time off before.

It is always great to have Reeve on Dishin & Swishin, one of the most candid coaches in the WNBA. Some of the topics covered in this podcast include:

  • The schedule and its impact on the start of the season, the “slow” starts of Moore, Whalen and Augustus
  • Integrating Jones into the system, as well as young posts Devereaux Peters and Damiris Dantis
  • International players, including naturalized ones, and planning for and around their other commitments (including playing in lesser tournaments, like 3×3)
  • The difficult Western conference, the rise of Tulsa, changes in Los Angeles, and more (note this was recorded before it was announced Skylar Diggins is out for the season; at the time it was only known she would miss the road trip)
  • The Lynx’s new state of the art facilities and their importance as well as that of the Mayo Clinic partnership

A few fireworks for the July 4th weekend from Cheryl Reeve as the Minnesota Lynx are eyeing first place and another trip to the finals. In the words of Jerry Garcia, they just keep truckin’ on.

Enjoy the podcast!

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