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First-year coach Jen Gillom sees better seasons ahead for her young Lynx team. She just hopes she is still the coach.

This summer, for the fifth consecutive year, Minnesota missed advancing to the WNBA playoffs, which begin Wednesday. The Lynx (14-20) finished fifth in the Western Conference, one place out of a postseason spot.

Gillom said a season-ending knee injury to guard Seimone Augustus derailed the Lynx's whole season.

"We could have been the No. 1 team in West had this not happened," Gillom said. "Seimone was having the best season of her career. This team was scoring 100 points a game."

The Lynx started the season 4-1. Augustus, in her fourth pro season, was playing like a bona-fide league MVP candidate. She had two 30-point games and was averaging 23.4 points.

But in the sixth game, Augustus tore the ACL in her left knee in Phoenix. The Lynx were routed in that game but recovered. They were 10-7 at the All-Star break.

The season unraveled after that. The Lynx were 4-13 the second half. The tailspin included a six-game losing streak in August and an 0-9 road record.

"It's been rough, it's been hard," center Nicky Anosike said. "We did not improve the second half like we thought we would."

Other teams, who were missing key players because of injuries or other reasons such as rest or maternity leave, started getting them back. Those veteran teams got stronger, Gillom said, and knew how to expose the Lynx's weaknesses.

Next season should be different. "The stars are lining up for us," Gillom said. "Seimone gets back and we get a top draft pick."

Actually two. The Lynx have their own first-round pick and New York's, too. Since neither team made the playoffs, both will be in the five-team lottery for picks No. 1 through 5.

"We need a defensive stopper," Gillom said. "A dominant inside presence. We have a lot of offensive-minded players, not enough defensive-minded people."

Anosike, one of three second-year players who started for Gillom, was one of the team's best on defense. She has 81 steals, the second most in the league, despite missing the last four games because of a partially torn meniscus in her left knee.

It is Anosike's decision whether she will have offseason surgery. Anosike can make a quick recovery, Gillom said, while Augustus was fortunate she had her surgery so early, July 7, because of the longer rehabilitation needed.

"[Seimone] is going overseas to get the kinks out" playing basketball in Turkey, Gillom said. "And her teammates will elevate enough next season she won't need to have a great start."

As for who the coach will be, Gillom does not have a contract for next season. She was promoted to head coach three days before the start of this season. She replaced Don Zierden, who left abruptly for an NBA assistant job.

"I love this organization, I'd love another opportunity with this team," Gillom said. "I hope [a decision] is done real quick."