About to hop in the car with the poppa and hit Philly for the “This I Believe: Philadelphia” event, but that doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten about today’s game (or that “Other” game – yes, I enjoyed the concert…sigh. And I really enjoyed this season.). I’m looking forward to the “Battle of the Healthy Heavyweights.” – nice to see the W doing the bumping, isn’t it?
BTW: Did you know the WNBA Finals features Philly connection
From the AP: Lynx want WNBA Finals redemption against Indiana
Maya Moore and the Minnesota Lynx waltzed into the 2012 WNBA Finals ready for a coronation.
It was supposed to be the beginning of a dynasty, with the powerful Lynx sure to overwhelm heavy underdog Indiana for their second straight championship.
Tamika Catchings had other ideas.
Catchings and the Fever took it to the defending champions, stunning them in Game 1 in Minnesota and taking the best-of-five series 3-1 for the franchise’s first championship.
Three years later, the two teams are meeting again. And this time, Moore said the Lynx will be ready for them.
Mike Max says the Lynx Focused On Winning Title, Not Revenge On Fever
Minnesota Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve and Timberwolves’ interim head coach Sam Mitchell chatted as their practices overlapped Thursday. It was a good problem to have because it means the Lynx are in the finals.
“No matter what, it’s just one more opponent we’re getting ready for. This is it, and this is where we were trying to get to and we’re here,” Reeve said.
Maybe what they have learned more than anything is how precious it is to make it to the WNBA Finals. And when you get here, you never know if it could be your last shot.
Swish Appeal is singing the coach White’s praises: Stephanie White etches name in with WNBA coaching greats as is Mechelle: Stephanie White sets bar high in first season as Fever head coach
Indiana coach Stephanie White really wasn’t sure she’d be in the WNBA this long. After retiring as a player, she spent four years as an assistant at the college level, and then went in that capacity to the WNBA’s Chicago Sky.
“I bought into the idea of former players staying in the league to help the current players understand where we’ve come from and where we have to get to,” White said. “To be a part of molding that next generation of players. Because you could take it for granted, very easily, if you’ve grown up with the WNBA and didn’t know it could be taken away.”
The New York Times takes a look at the other bench: With Bold Coach, Lynx Find a Voice. It May Be Hoarse.
Two tense games in the W.N.B.A.’s Western Conference finals reduced Minnesota Lynx Coach Cheryl Reeve’s voice to a rasp. It had mostly recovered by midweek, when Reeve, dressed in blue-and-gray Lynx sweats, directed practice.
But it was not exactly right, and that bothered her.
“Is it better?” she asked. “I tried everything. It’s hard this time of year.”
Part teacher, part taskmaster and part tactician, Reeve is as much the voice and driving force of the Lynx franchise as the American Olympians Maya Moore, Seimone Augustus and Lindsay Whalen are the faces.
More from Mechelle: Seimone Augustus as vital as ever to Lynx’s championship hopes
There are times when Minnesota guard Seimone Augustus has just the right message for her hard-driving and intense coach, Cheryl Reeve. It’s the kind of thing not just anybody could say, but Augustus always nails it.
“I joke with her: ‘You might need to get to the studio and get some yoga and find your happy place,'” Augustus said. “So she calls me the Zen master.”
The Star Tribune has a Sunday Q&A: Lynx forward Rebekkah Brunson
The Lynx were 1-4 in the playoffs in 12 years of existence before Moore. They are 26-8 with Moore.
A franchise that couldn’t get out of its own way for a dozen years is now going for its third WNBA title in the five years of Maya Moore.
Have you ever seen such a winner?
“Maya’s not the quickest player, but she’s fast,” Petersen said. “She’s not the biggest player, but she’s physical. And she just makes so many plays.”
Petersen laughed slightly and said: “Some of them are drawn up in the game plan; some of them aren’t. The way I put it, ‘She goes rogue.’ Sometimes when she goes rogue, it turns into a great play. The rest of the time, Cheryl is yelling at her.
“I’ve never seen a great player get yelled at as much as Maya. She just takes it. Maya has that rare ability to put a bad play — a foul, missed shot, whatever — behind her and instantly get back in the moment.
From the Indy Star’s David Woods: How the Fever were built, player by player
When the Indiana Fever selected Tamika Catchings with the third pick of the 2001 WNBA draft, they secured their future for the next decade and a half.
Yet as great as she has been, the Fever have been to a record 11 consecutive postseasons not solely because of her – and not because of the draft. Not since 2005 have the Fever had a top-four pick.
Kelly Krauskopf, the Fever’s top executive for all of their 16 seasons, has kept the team near the top via trades, free-agent signings, judicious drafting and retention of key pieces.
Indeed, in an era where youth is trumpeted, this series is a throwback, with old vets rather than youngsters. The Lynx starters average 30.4 years of age, Indiana 29.2. The Lynx looking for a third title in five years, the fever a second in four seasons.
“This is a series that fans need to appreciate what they see on the floor,” said Rebecca Lobo, the former player who will be part of the ESPN broadcast crew. “Knowing Catchings only has a season left; this might be her last finals. Knowing this Lynx team, as it is put together right now, may be changing in the coming years. … It will be a great series.”
Busy Mechelle writes: WNBA Finals primer: Why Minnesota shouldn’t underestimate Indiana
This is the first time since 2006 — and just the fourth time overall — that the team with the best record in the league did not reach the WNBA Finals. So while the New York Liberty — who went 23-11 this season — must dwell on what went wrong in the Eastern Conference finals, the Indiana Fever move on to try to knock off the team with the second-best record this season: the West champion Minnesota Lynx, who were 22-12 in the regular season.
This is a repeat of the 2012 WNBA Finals, with a very similar cast of main characters, although there are a few new faces in this matchup.
Women’s Watch: Indiana Fever the real story of this WNBA season
Catchings, who led Stevenson to an IHSA state championship in 1995, has announced that next season will be her last in the WNBA. She is engaged and ready to marry, have children and move on with her life.
She reflected on that when she was in Chicago last month while leading the Fever to a first-round win over the Sky.
“Every time I go out, after this year, it becomes the last of everything,” Catchings said. “This is the last off-season, it will be the last first game.
“Really, this is just the opportunity to go out and enjoy my team. I love my teammates. They’re a great group of ladies and I’m savoring the moments.”
Catchings has certainly been saving some of her best moments for the playoffs.
Again from David: For female athletes, 35 might be the new 25
“We’ve done a really good job all season long just taking care of my body and making sure this is the time that I’m ready,” she said. “I’m ready to perform at the end of the season, and not necessarily at the beginning. So I feel great.”
There is scientific and anecdotal evidence that not only can women perform as well as they did a decade earlier, they can often do better. As women age, they become more aerobic, according to Krista Austin, a sports scientist and coach formerly employed by the U.S. Olympic Committee. That is, women’s bodies absorb and transport oxygen more efficiently.
What Catchings is doing is not a new phenomenon.
For some of us, there a storyline that has added an interesting tinge to the games: The Holdout: Lynx’s Sylvia Fowles seeking redemption in WNBA Finals
Make a list of the worst sins a pro athlete could commit against the spirit of competition. Somewhere among those offenses, there will be The Holdout. The mere suggestion of such an act quickly calls up a set of images in the mind: of a star player acting selfishly, of a stubborn team at wit’s end. Before long the fan’s blood starts to boil, even though it rightly shouldn’t. This is a boardroom drama that still unfolds against the backdrop of capitalism, after all.
Yet those images, however much ingrained, are hard to reconcile in the WNBA, where the sisterhood is real and the relationships within are largely positive and everlasting. Those images don’t strictly line up with the Minnesota Lynx’s standout center—a big-hearted, soft-spoken, 29-year-old named Sylvia Fowles.
Finally, this is the really essential background reading you need to prep for the game today:
It’s Minnesota vs. Indiana in the WNBA Finals, so here’s a “best-of” look at these two states. We quizzed the natives that both teams have: Minnesota-born-and-raised Lindsay Whalen, the Lynx point guard, and Indiana-born-and-raised Stephanie White, the Fever’s head coach. As a Midwesterner who has spent a lot of time in both states, I’ll toss in my picks, too.
Best TV show set in the state
Whalen: “I’m too young for ‘The Mary Tyler Moore Show’; I missed that. I’ll go with ‘Coach.’ He was at Minnesota State, which we didn’t even have back then.” (Mankato State changed names to Minnesota State in 1999, two years after the TV show ended.)
Voepel: “I’m a lot older than Whalen and am the biggest ‘MTM’ fan on the planet. I’m just bummed that the famous Mary statue is currently in storage because of renovation work on Nicollet Mall.”
White: “Parks and Recreation.” (Set in wonderfully-fake-but-oh-so-real Pawnee.)
Voepel: “One Day at a Time” if I go with my cheesy 1970s bias; Ms. Romano and daughters lived in Indianapolis. Nah, I’ll choose “Parks and Rec,” too.