If you missed the previous 3 issues of this series, I encourage you to take a look below:
Part 1: The Moves
Part 2: The Dimes
Part 3: The Stops
The Lynx Signature Series
- Who this is for: Long-time Lynx fans. Aspiring Lynx fans. Anyone who’s a fan of the game of balls and baskets.
- What this is: A highlight reel of Top 10’s (#SCTop10) from this year’s Minnesota Lynx squad. I’ve determined these rankings as the committee of one.
- Why did you do this: As mentioned above, one barrier for me in getting more invested in watching the W was unfamiliarity of players. Hopefully you will use this to help you build your familiarity with the team as I detail some of our best moments!
Honorable mention: Crystal gets the scoop on the defense
If you’ve had the pleasure of watching the Minnesota Lynx play this season, it was easy to see that the offense would go as Crystal Dangerfield would. Thankfully, Dangerfield would in fact go very well almost every game (Scoring 16.2 ppg, good for 11th in the WNBA). CD’s got moves and she serves up two flavors here: A spicy in-and-out dribble on Skylar Diggins-Smith, and a sweet hesi on Arike Ogunbowale. Yummy.
#10: Captain Collier fades on Augustus
Napheesa Collier has a quiet, yet deadly game that often goes unnoticed. I wanted to give shine where shine is due and showoff some of those buckets that get forgotten. What’s also often forgotten is that Phee (16.1) ranked just 0.1 point per game behind her team’s leading scorer Crystal Dangerfield (16.2). She gets buckets. What makes this play special is that it’s on former Lynx figurehead, Seimone Augustus. Man... it’s still weird to see Mone donning that yellow jersey. Either way, witness this beautiful, contested, fading out of bounds J in Augustus’ eye.
#9: Carleton “making sh*t up”
The blossoming of Bridget Carleton has been one of the most feel-good storylines of this Lynx season. I always feel as though she’s a “mini-Napheesa Collier” when I watch her play, always doing the little things that don’t come up on the box score whether that’s timely defensive plays, or timely buckets. There’s a certain pureness to this Canadian’s game that is such a pleasure to watch. Take Bridget’s own words though, “I’m honestly just making sh*t up as I go.”
#8: Dangerfield sends a prayer to the Dream
A lightning bolt in transition, Crystal Dangerfield often receives an outlet and bursts straight through the opposing defense in mere seconds. You wouldn’t guess by her diminutive size, but she never backs down no matter the height or amount of defenders. On this play, the rookie dives right into the heart of the Atlanta Dream and takes on 2020’s Most Improved Player, Betnijah Laney. Crystal anticipates the contact from the back pedaling Laney and draws the easy contact, but it doesn’t stop there. Now falling out of bounds at a 45° angle, she throws up a prayer that perfectly banks off the glass and in.
#7: Lexie seals the deal with the and-1
Let me set the stage for you. The 3-1 Minnesota Lynx stretched their 4th quarter lead to 15 points on a Lexie Brown 3-pointer with just 8:57 left to go. The struggling 2-3 Indiana Fever looked dead in the water. However, their impressive rookie guard out of Belgium, Julie Allemand, led a 4th quarter run that cut the lead to just 4 points with 46 ticks remaining.
Coming out of a timeout, Brown has the ball and finds Allemand staring her down at the top of the key. Lexie drives right and gives a smooth through the legs crossover that leaves the rookie guarding air. By the time Allemand tries to get back in the play, Brown is already two steps ahead and knifes by her, slipping a right-handed layup in while drawing the foul to push the lead to 6. Ball game. (Brown would miss the free throw, but would steal the ensuing Fever possession to ensure the W anyway).
#6: Dangerfield burns the Mercury
There’s really not enough words, clips, or shout-outs that can sum up just how good Crystal Dangerfield was this season. The Minnesota offense wasn’t built on a fast paced run-and-gun engine, thus it wasn’t surprising to see possessions stall to a halt. But for each breakdown of the offense, Dangerfield was there to breakdown the opposing defense. In this case, Bria Hartley (who was equally roasting the Lynx on offense all game) was the witness to Crystal’s brilliance. Being handed a grenade with just a handful of seconds left on the shot clock, CD hits Hartley with a hesi (is this not on the scouting report yet??) before rocketing into the paint to score the hoop and the harm.
#5: Crystal snatches Dietrick’s ankles
One of the worst losses of the year was when Minnesota dropped a game to Atlanta, who was on a 10-game losing streak. However, Crystal Dangerfield was not going to let that happen again. As the ball is being swung over to CD at the left elbow, Blake Dietrick recklessly gambles for a steal. What happens next is NSFW:
#4: Banham goes perfect in style
Rachel Banham is yet another feel good story from this year. The Minnesota native showed out in her first season playing for her hometown team. Banham was a reliable bench scorer who showed a lethal touch from beyond the arc. In their second meeting against the Wings, Rachel was on a perfect 3-for-3 shooting stretch, including 2-for-2 from deep.
She finds the ball in her hands with 5 left on the shot clock and Arike Ogunbowale closing out hard so she takes a gather step back and pump fakes to draw Arike further in. She then takes two rapid dribbles to the right and prepares to launch the shot with 3 left on the clock. But Arike’s athleticism allows her to recover and offer an impressive contest. However, Banham makes the final adjustment, leaning and jumping towards to the right corner in order to squeeze the shot off. By the time the shot tickles the twine, Rachel is flat on her back witnessing her own masterpiece.
#3: Dantas does it blind
I mentioned in The Dimes segment of this Lynx Signature Series that the high-low deep entry over the defense was a staple of the Minnesota offense. This time our Brazilian bomber, Damaris Dantas, is the recipient of a Dangerfield entry. With the 6’5”, 231-pound center Stefanie Dolson literally hanging on her back, Dantas makes the heady veteran play by tossing up a one-handed, no-look, scoop shot. Of course it banks in as she earns the and-1. How many people on this planet are capable of hitting that shot?
#2: Dangerfield takes on 12 Sparks players
Nope, you did not read that wrong. And no, Crystal Dangerfield was not playing football. It didn’t take long for Dangerfield to get hazed into the LA-MIN rivalry. In her first game versus the Los Angeles Sparks, Crystal found herself trying to lead a double-digit comeback. Here’s what happens next:
1) CD first tries to free herself from Brittney Sykes (1st defender) by utilizing a Lexie Brown screen.
2) This switches Riquana Williams (2nd) onto Dangerfield, who does a great job harassing her and trying the poke the ball free.
3) KiKi Herbert Harrigan comes to try and break the press by offering a screen, but that just sets up a near trap situation as Marie Gülich (3rd) jumps out to stymy the drive while Williams goes under the screen.
4) At this point, you can see the Sparks bench (4th-10th defenders, one player not pictured about to check in) either on their feet and/or screaming at Dangerfield, who at this point looks like she’s in a human Mouse Trap board game.
5) Crystal finally finds some fresh air by splitting the defense, just to be rewarded with the 2020 Defensive Player of the Year, Candace Parker (11th), who’s flashing over from the corner.
6) Without a moment’s hesitation, CD looks to the corner at a wide-open Napheesa Collier and pass — PSYCH! She completely dismisses Parker back to her original defensive assignment and rises for what should be an open layup.
7) Chelsea Gray (12th) makes the correct rotation and rises to try and block the shot attempt. Instead, all she gets is Dangerfield’s arm as CD is able to loft a perfectly silky smooth 1-hander off the glass and in.
8) Dangerfield completes the and-1, successfully becoming the first player to take on an entire team’s roster in one play.
#1: The Long Odyssey
To many outsiders, this WNBA year all seemed like an extremely short, abridged season. However, from the perspective of the Minnesota Lynx, it was an extremely long journey filled with obstacles they’ve never faced before.
From the Wubble/COVID environment, to criticism from political offices, to the on-going battle to raise awareness and spark change for social justice, and many more; 10 of the 12 WNBA teams have finally earned some much deserved rest at home. This includes the Minnesota Lynx, who have never shied away from the responsibility of being the necessary voice in our fight for racial justice and the blistering spotlight that comes with it.
I am so extremely proud of these remarkably strong women and am excited to do whatever I can to continue supporting them in their mission. There is still a lot of work to be done after all.
This is The Long Odyssey.