This is our 21st season of Minnesota Lynx coverage as well as the WNBA, which begins its 23rd season. We will provide at least one column of such coverage each week of the 2019 regular season and playoffs, beginning this week.
Houston’s “Big Three” — Cynthia Cooper, Tina Thompson, and Sheryl Swoopes — ruled the WNBA, won the league’s first four championships and created the W’s first dynasty. The Minnesota Lynx, the W’s second dynasty, also ruled the league since 2011 with six Finals appearances and tied Houston with four championships earned.
The Lynx’s “Core Four” (a term borrowed from local journalist Pat Borzi) of Seimone Augustus, Rebekkah Brunson, Maya Moore and Lindsay Whalen were greatly responsible for each of the trophies. The four finished the 2018 season as the league’s winningest quartet in its history.
Now Augustus is the only remaining holdover from that “core.” Brunson is still recovering from concussion after-effects incurred late last season. Whalen is retired, and Moore is on a sabbatical.
As Augustus begins her 14th season, her former college teammate and Lynx center Sylvia Fowles is starting her fifth summer in Minnesota. The three-time defensive player of the year and 2017 WNBA MVP became the Core Four’s fifth member in 2015 and won two Lynx championships.
“Me and Seimone are the oldest [33 and 35 respectively], and I don’t like that at all,” Fowles said in jest when speaking with the MSR last week. “Seimone is older than me by two years,” she proudly stressed.
Minnesota opens its 2019 WNBA campaign Saturday as they host Chicago. The probable starters will contain at least three new faces to join Augustus and Fowles: Karima Christmas-Kelly and Damiris Dantas at forward, both off-season free agent signings; and point guard Danielle Robinson, who backed up Whalen last year. Among the probable top reserves are guards Odyssey Sims and Lexie Brown, both acquired in separate trades.
Some are calling this group the new-look Lynx, but the 6’-6” Fowles quickly points out that the new nucleus is well seasoned. “Although it is not what we are used to seeing, this group still knows how to score, but they’re doing it in a different way.”
“The beauty about Minnesota is that we have a set foundation,” Fowles explained. “You got to play your a** off. You got to learn, pay attention to detail, and just have fun. I think once that foundation is set, it makes everything much easier to do.”
“Very different, but the game plan, the system is still the same,” Augustus said.
This season, Fowles is expected to not only carry a heavier scoring and rebounding load (she averaged 17 points and 11 rebounds last season), but a team leadership load as well. The 11-year veteran said of her vantage point, “You know how to talk to those players and know how to be hard on [individual] players to push them to get them going — and how to back [off] on players, too.
“I don’t yell. Sometimes I can’t control my facial expressions, but I’m working on it,” Fowles continued. “I try to lead by example. I’m not vocal, talking just to be talking, that’s not me at all.
“I’m happy and ready to go.”
The WNBA has a new logo, and a second television contract. Now the league has its first commissioner: Cathy Engelbert was hired last week and will start in July. More on this, including speaking with the new commish will be forthcoming.