By Kent Youngblood
Star Tribune (Minneapolis)
Lindsay Whalen could see it happening, see the parts fitting together so well, feel the chemistry forming.
It was Lynx training camp, 2011.
“I remember it was the best training camp any of us ever had,” Whalen said after practice Thursday. “That’s when it really started.”
Saturday the Lynx will host Connecticut at Xcel Energy Center. It will be an opportunity for Minnesota to improve to 10-0, which would be the third time in six seasons the Lynx have started a season with 10 or more wins. It will also be an opportunity for Whalen, Seimone Augustus, Maya Moore and Rebekkah Brunson to win their 121st game together as a quartet, which would move them into a tie with the Los Angeles Sparks foursome of Lisa Leslie, Tamecka Dixon, Mwadi Mabika and DeLisha Milton-Jones.
Augustus was here first, coming to Minnesota in 2006. Over her first four seasons she scored tons of points but never sniffed the playoffs. Coach Cheryl Reeve got here in 2010, as did Whalen (via trade) and Brunson (via dispersal draft). There were promising signs that summer, but Augustus’ health issues ultimately led to another losing season.
That changed a year later. The Lynx won the draft lottery that year, took Moore with the first overall pick and the core was set.
“It was 2011 training camp when our identity was born,” Reeve said.
Since then, of course, the Lynx have appeared in the finals five of six seasons, winning three titles. The supporting cast has changed over time. The Lynx have won three titles with three starting centers — in 2011 with veteran Taj McWilliams-Franklin, in 2013 with Janel McCarville and in 2015 with Sylvia Fowles.
But the core of four hasn’t changed.
“You could tell the vibe,” Augustus said of that 2011 training camp. “Once we got into a rhythm of knowing where everyone wanted to be on the floor, what everyone liked, the practices were so competitive. It just started to happen. By midseason, there was no turning back. This wasn’t the Lynx team people had known.”
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