For 20 weeks, to commemorate the WNBA’s 20th season (the MSR having covered each season), the MSR sports section is featuring a column or article on the W in our “20 in 20” series. This week: Four-square success
The Minnesota Lynx has qualified for the playoffs six straight seasons, the league’s second-longest such stretch behind Indiana’s dozen consecutive appearances.
This streak coincidentally began when its “core” came together in 2011; only Los Angeles’ foursome of Tameka Dixon, Lisa Leslie, Mwadi Mabika and DeLisha Milton-Jones won more regular season games (121 from 1999 to 2004) than the Lynx quartet of Seimone Augustus, Rebekkah Brunson, Maya Moore and Lindsay Whalen (111), including 22 victories this season.
The four players are among the team’s all-time career leaders: scoring — Augustus (1), Moore (2), Whalen (4) and Brunson (6); rebounds — (Brunson (1), Moore (2), and Augustus (4); assists — Whalen, Moore and Augustus are 1-2-3; and steals — Moore (1), Augustus (3) and Brunson (5).
“We have awesome leaders. Without those great leaders, we wouldn’t be in the position we are in right now,” said Minnesota forward Natasha Howard last week.
“We all bring something different,” said Whalen. “Maya can score a lot in a lot of different ways. Seimone is one of the best shot makers of all time. Brunson is a mean rebounder, and I assist and [serve as the] floor general. I think we all complement each other well.”
A successful nucleus doesn’t always coalesce automatically, but when it clicks, it clicks like a well-oiled machine.
“I think [it’s] our togetherness and chemistry,” continued the point guard. Augustus already was here when Whalen arrived via trade in 2010. Brunson and Moore arrived later via drafts (dispersal and college, respectively) the following season.
“After my first year here, it was great to be part of the team,” recalled Whalen. “Like any relationship, it took time. [But] it really formed real quick. It’s been real cool to play with these guys.
“We all play real hard. When players work hard, it makes for a good team chemistry,” added Whalen.
Howard, who is in her first year with the club and is in the regular rotation, added, “Everybody knows their role on this team. I’m not the only one coming off the bench. We got here Renee [Montgomery], Jia [Perkins], Keisha [Hampton], [Anna] Cruz and Janel [McCarville] helping the starters when they come out. We keep up the pace when they come out.”
Minnesota plays Phoenix Wednesday in their “new” home, the Wild’s arena in St. Paul. This will be the first time the Lynx have played a non-exhibition home contest away from downtown Minneapolis since playing a midseason game at Williams Arena in 2007. The best-of-five semifinal winner will advance to the finals next month.
“We truly enjoy each other on and off the court, first and foremost,” said Whalen. “We really like playing with each other.”
Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to email@example.com.
Charles Hallman is a contributing reporter and award-winning sports columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.