Olympic competition should energize Lynx stars

As the Minnesota Lynx and the rest of the WNBA continue their Olympic break — the regu

lar season will resume August 17 — it appears as though the Target Center in downtown Minneapolis is vacant. The Lynx have three players on the Women’s USA team: Seimone Augustus, Maya Moore and Lindsey Whalen.

In their preparations for London, the USA women’s team did not get as much practice time together as the men. That is largely due to the WNBA having begun its season in late May — the women only had a brief weekend training camp just before the season, then got back together again and played some exhibition games before heading for England. One would have to wonder how these players could play as a team with so little time together.

Seimone Augustus

The head coach of the women’s team is University of Connecticut Head Coach Geno Auriemma, and the assistants are Doug Bruno (DePaul University) and Jennifer Gillom (former Lynx head coach, and assistant coach of the Washington Mystics). Six of the 12 players on this year’s Olympic team previously have played their college ball for Coach Auriemma at UConn, so the expectation would be that familiarity should bring success.

Every player on the USA team also plays overseas during the winter. The plus side is that they already are familiar with the international rules. A total of 38 current and former WNBA players are on Olympic teams, including former Minnesota Lynx player and American Quanitra Hollingsworth, who was

Maya Moore

granted permission to play for Turkey, and foreign-born players representing their home country.

I had a chance to speak to the Lynx players that are on the USA team before the break. All three said that it was a huge honor to be chosen to represent their country and to play with their teammates. Asked how they thought playing together would benefit them and the Lynx upon their return, Augustus replied, “It will be great. Geno is a great coach, and he will only make us more competitive.”

They all thought that upon their return from the Olympics with their games more polished, they would be able to help the team more by being more cohesive with one another.  In addition, they were all excited to be able to share the experience of the Olympics with someone they considered a family member, their sister, their teammate.

Lindsey Whalen
Photos courtesy of Lynx

Starting with the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal, Canada, women’s basketball has been a medal sport. Since then, the USA team has collected a record six gold medals, one silver and one bronze.

The team’s overall record in eight Olympic venues is an impressive 50-3, including winning the gold in the 2008 Beijing Games. (The U.S. did not participate in the 1980 Moscow Games due to the boycott called by then-president Jimmy Carter.)

To win a gold medal for your country is a huge accomplishment, one that can only be repeated every four years. Although the 2012 USA team is the odds-on favorite, the squad has a mighty feat in front of them — namely Australia — to repeat as Olympic champions, a feat that is not taken lightly by players or coaches.

The current WNBA players in these Olympic Games should bring back to their respective teams that competitive spirit and pride they will experience playing for their country, a surge of energy that can invigorate these players when they return to regular season action.

I therefore look for the three Minnesota Lynx Olympic players to renew their quest to repeat as champions, since they will likely return hungry and ready to get back to work.


Sheri Crockett welcomes reader responses to scrockett@spokesman-recorder.com.