Nicole LaVoi, the University of Minnesota Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport’s co-director, was very relieved that her one-hour talk at the Tucker Center was scheduled for last night and not today. LaVoi, a loyal Minnesota Lynx fan, wouldn’t have missed Game 5 of this year’s WNBA finals for the world. “We are going to win,” she predicted of Game 5. “We are going to dominate!”
The final game of the 2016 WNBA season will air tonight at 7 pm CST on EPSN2. “There will be a lot of energy,” said Los Angeles Coach Brian Agler. He told reporters after Wednesday’s practice that focus — something some accuse the Sparks of losing in Game 4 — will be crucial in the contest: “No matter [what] the situation calls for, you have to have a constant focus on your opponent,” he said.
The defending champions Minnesota and Los Angeles both are ready to battle Thursday for the last team standing rights in a series that has set television ratings records. The back-and-forth between the two clubs has been a true basketball fan’s delight; the second consecutive year the championship series went the distance. “You definitely couldn’t ask for more,” noted Lynx forward Maya Moore. “It’s been a dramatic series.”
“The league has the two best teams playing each [other] for a championship,” reiterated back court mate Seimone Augustus. “This is what we’ve all been waiting for. It’s been great basketball from Game 1 to Game 4. We just expect the same in Game 5.”
L.A.’s Alana Beard pointed out, “There are no more X’s and O’s. Heart. Will. Passion.”
“It’s been really fun and hard,” continued Moore. “To have a chance to end it here on our home court, that’s all we could really ask for. We want to put everything we have into Game 5.”
The battle within the battle perhaps will be on the boards where Minnesota’s front line of Moore, Sylvia Fowles and Rebekkah Brunson will go up against L.A.’s Beard, Candace Parker and Nneka Ogwumike.
“We just have to stop them from rebounding,” said Sparks’ Essence Carson on Minnesota. “It’s that simple.”
“Nothing is going to come easy,” said Fowles. “You just have to be focused on what you’re out there doing and making sure we don’t make too many mistakes.” Added Brunson, “We have to go out there, compete and win.”
Another battle will be among the team’s reserves: Natasha Howard, Jia Perkins and Anna Cruz, and especially Renee Montgomery, if she can get going for the Lynx against Carson, and Jantel Lavender for the Sparks.
Finally, throw out all the “no more tomorrow” overused cliques. This is it, Thursday night. Game 5 is “a new season,” concluded Minnesota guard Lindsay Whalen. “That’s all that we’re focused on right now.”
Read our Game 5 post-game recap on MSRNewsOnline.com.
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.