Seimone Augustus surveys the competition
Minnesota 84 Detroit 70
This was the start a young Lynx team needed to have. The organization tried their best to manufacture energy for the season opener, but it was newcomers Charde Houston, Nicky Anosike, and Candice Wiggins that provided serious on-court swagger and enthusiasm in defeating Detroit. Playing the second game of a back to back, the Shock tried early to set the tempo, with former Minnesota star Katie Smith torching the Lynx in the first few minutes of the game. Minnesota hung in with balanced scoring from their youngsters, and took a five point lead into the half.
Detroit made a comeback in the third quarter taking a one point lead midway in the third, but Minnesota went on a 20-4 run by the end of the third and into the fourth quarter. Seimone Augustus had a off night shooting-wise, but hit enough shots late in the fourth to prevent any Detroit comeback. Coach Bill Laimbeer emptied his bench with about 2 minutes left, realizing his club was done for the game.
There was a lot to like from Minnesota today, but they obviously still have a long way to go. Anna DeForge--the major free agent signing--took only 4 shots today and looked out of sorts with her teammates. The Lynx's defense hustled and created 23 turnovers, but the front court was in foul trouble the majority of the contest. The referees called touch fouls tightly, especially when any of our front court players posted up against Cheryl Ford. Nicole Ohlde is now playing predominately the high post, where her lack of physicality and strength aren't nearly as noticeable. The additions of Kristen Rasmussen, Houston, Anosike and the return of Vanessa Hayden-Johnson gives the Lynx a depth in the front court they've never had. In the back court, Wiggins had substantial minutes at point guard, and Noelle Quinn played much better at the point than last year. They even beat any press and traps Detroit could throw at them. Augustus tried to shoot her way out her doldrums, and for awhile was dangerously close to costing her team in the second half, until she caught a little heat. As I mentioned in my last post, it's going to be fascinating to see how the ball gets distributed among these players as the season progresses, and Lindsey Harding returns.
I'm most intrigued by Houston. I thought she would have no chance to make this squad, yet she played with an intensity and maturity that was remarkable for a rookie. The rap on her coming out of college was that she was inconsistent and an overall disappointment, considering the pedigree she had coming out of high school. Will she be a one game wonder?
This contest won't go far in answering any of these questions, but it was the most fun I've had at a Minnesota professional basketball game--men's or women's--in quite awhile. I suppose that says a lot about the state of hoops in this town, but for one day at least it felt good to think the tide might have turned. Maybe the karma gods are smiling on us after all.