Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The bandwagon has left the building

It didn't take long but the Minnesota Lynx bandwagon might have left the building.

After the best start in franchise history, the Lynx (6-6) is now reeling coming into tonight's game against the New York Liberty.

The reason is simple: Minnesota's defense has been horrific, which is defying Head Coach Don Zierden's basic belief. "We're a roll-up-our-sleeves kind of club," he says.

However, his players in many areas aren't playing like this.

"We haven't been shooting the ball as well as we like," guard Anna DeForge points out. Defensive breakdowns have been too numerous, something that DeForge's coach totally agree.

Also, the Lynx's point guard play has been lacking: Noelle Quinn, particularly, has been up and down all season. She has to play better -- two assists and three turnovers in 19 minutes simply won't do.

But Minnesota also needs more from Lindsay Harding, who has struggled in the two games she has played in since returning from an injury.

"We definitely need our point guards to step up," Zierden notes.

Other than Candice Wiggins, who is getting to the line on a double-figure clip, the Lynx has struggled at the free throw line. "The past couple of games we haven't been hitting our free throws," says DeForge, who missed both her chances in Saturday's loss to Houston. Minnesota shot only 66 percent from the line in the seven-point defeat that put the team at .500 for the first time this season.

Finally, the whispers are starting to grow -- the Lynx's fast start was only a mirage.

"We can't listen to outside voices," concludes DeForge. "We have to stay focused on each other and this team, playing better every game and finding ways to win."


Can we move on? -- Another one of those "We should have taken Janel McCarville" stories was written today. A summer intern penned the latest one for the Star Tribune, again revisiting history.

The Lynx passed over McCarville, the former Gopher, in the league's dispersal draft two years ago in favor of Tangela Smith.

I said it then, and I say it now -- Minnesota made the right call. McCarville, who I covered in college, had not lived up at the time to her 2005 top overall selection, and Smith was a better pro. Furthermore, if the Lynx had taken her, they would not have gotten Lindsay Harding from Phoenix, which they did by dealing Smith in a one-on-one deal.

All Tuesday's non-story only does is again stir up the locals, who steadfastly believe that if Minnesota had both McCarville, Lindsay Whalen or any other former Gopher they like, that the team would be better off, especially in drawing folks. If the team did have these two, you would only see a slight bump in attendance, nothing more.

Winning, not former college stars, bring people to the seats. Everyone around the country knows this, but sadly this knowledge eludes too many Minnesotans.

My final say on this -- I would not have given up two proven starters (at the time were Katie Smith and Tamika Williams) and two No. 1's for an unproven rookie in Whalen, nor was Charlotte was going to give up their top spot and the opportunity to select McCarville to Minnesota, who had nothing to offer in that regard.

Minnesota is the only place that is so provincial in its thinking that local athletes make the difference. If that was the case, why did Los Angeles chose Candice Parker out of Tennessee, rather than a California product.

It's sad that this summer intern couldn't found another subject to write on.

Welcome aboard -- Tuesday's game will be LaToya Thomas' first in a Lynx uniform. The former top draft choice -- Thomas was the first overall pick by Cleveland in 2003, was acquired Sunday from Detroit in exchange for guard Eshaya Murphy.

Hopefully, the trade will be a plus for both teams: Thomas wasn't playing much in Detroit, and the same for Murphy, who was often placed on the inactive list and only played in two games this season.

Minnesota becomes the first WNBA team with three No. 1 overall draft selections on one roster, as Thomas joins previous top picks Seimone Augustus and Harding.

No comments: