The Lynx had just finished their first practice of the 2018 season — their first workout as defending WNBA champions — about to embark on their fifth attempt to repeat.
Seimone Augustus came over to answer a few questions. She saw someone holding onto a team roster.
“I need one of those,” Augustus said. “I’m still learning names.”
As has been the case for years now, the core of the Lynx success is back, the starters. Well, four out of five; Maya Moore is still vying for a title for her team in Russia.
But after that? All sorts of new faces.
There is a new backup backcourt in Danielle Robinson and Tanisha Wright. A new backup big in Lynetta Kizer. Rookies, veterans trying to make their mark, or at least make an impression.
Life in the WNBA.
For coach — and now also general manager — Cheryl Reeve, it’s business as usual. Though Reeve admittedly is a little more “chill” than she has been in the past. Entering her ninth season as Lynx coach, she has been through this before.
“Day 1 is sort of a head-spinner sort of day,” Reeve said after the first workout, which was focused mainly on installing offensive plays.
To that end, Reeve broke the team up into groups, making sure there was one or more longtime Lynx player in each group. For Reeve, having new players learn the team’s culture isn’t an issue — she takes that aspect into account with every trade, signing or draft pick. But learning the offense?
It’s a chore.
“We got a good workout in,” said Lindsay Whalen, who, with Sunday’s practice, officially is working at two jobs. After the workout, the newly named Gophers women’s basketball coach had to get ready to meet a recruit. “I think Coach always sets a tone so great here on the first day. She kind of lays out what we do here and what are the expectations and what we need to do as individuals to be successful on the team.”
Moore’s UMMC Ekaterinburg team is up 2-0 in the best-of-five finals, so she could return soon, though she will need some time to rest. If her team wraps up the title Wednesday, Moore could be back in time for the preseason finale May 12. Also playing overseas are Cecilia Zandalasini, Endy Miyem and Temi Fagbenle, all of whom should be here within the week.
And they need to be. Those three have to fight for roster spots. While they are away, others are getting more chances to show what they can do.
That said, there are few roster spots really available. Reeve has rebuilt her bench with veterans, as she has done before. Through four titles in seven seasons, different veterans have helped the Lynx win.
“Veterans who just know how to win,” Whalen said. “That’s what coach Reeve really likes from the vets. Everybody has different strengths. So it’s our job as a collective team to make sure we’re finding those strengths as quick as possible.”
It started Sunday, with the veterans leading the way. “That’s their job,” Reeve said. “That’s why they get paid the big bucks. They were kind of pop-quizzing [the newcomers].”
One thing that really wasn’t talked about? Titles.
The Lynx have won four WNBA titles in seven seasons. In weeks they will start hunting another. But Day 1 wasn’t about that. It was about knocking off some rust, starting to incorporate some new faces.
“We spoke very little about it,” Augustus said about a championship. “It’s about what we have to do to get better. Rebounding, defense, whatever. Our goal here is to have fun and that’s all we’ve ever wanted to do. When you have fun with good people, you see what happens.”