Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve has said this season's offense was going to be different from what the team has run in the past. Some "staples" on her call sheet are out the window, she said. In their place comes a more free-flowing, open style with an emphasis on pace and pushing the ball in transition.
Easier said than done.
The second quarter of Friday's season-opening 77-66 loss to the Sky was a jolting wake-up call that this revamp could be a turbulent one.
The statistics from that quarter are an eyesore: The Lynx scored just three points on 1-for-15 from the floor with a grotesque 11 turnovers. After scoring 24 in the first and leading by two, they went into halftime trailing 44-27.
"That was tough. That was obviously tough to overcome," Reeve said. "Won every other quarter. But very clearly we are a work in progress."
Napheesa Collier led the Lynx with 17 points while Diamond Miller had nine in her WNBA debut. Kahleah Copper had 20 for the Sky.
For the night, the Lynx shot 33% and committed 21 turnovers, and they did indeed win every other quarter of the game, but the disastrous second was enough to sink their night. What went wrong? A little bit of everything. Shot selection was poor, movement stagnated and then players tried to play hero ball to recuse the team from itself.
"There were some blank stares sometimes," said Kayla McBride, who had 12 points. "We didn't have that much fluid movement on offense and we can't be like that."
Bad decisions led to more bad shots and more turnovers.
"It was one of those things where it just snowballs," Reeve said. "It gets contagious and they get a little frustrated and then you don't defend because you're in transition defense for 10 minutes. The entire second quarter we were in transition defense."
What particularly irked Reeve was the team's pick and roll offense, with the Lynx struggling to counter Chicago's hedging on the perimeter. The Lynx also got into a bad habit early of trying to throw over the top of the defense. That didn't work, and when they stopped doing that, they resumed scoring in the second half.
"Our pick and roll offense just was not good," Reeve said. "We knew they were going to hedge andjust our reads and our finds, just didn't happen for us."
Collier returned for a few games at the end of last season following maternity leave, but before Friday's game, she said this was the first time she felt like herself again entering a game. Afterwards, she said she thought she "could do better."
"I haven't played in a regular-season game in a long time. So I understand that there's going to be a little rust to get off," Collier said. "But I just want to hit the ground running and make sure that I'm learning from what I did this game, and making sure that I'm not doing it again."
Collier's layup with 7 minutes, 50 seconds left in the second marked Minnesota's only field goal of the quarter.
The scoring returned in the third for the Lynx with 22 points, seven coming at the free-throw line, but the Sky still carried a 65-49 lead into the fourth, and the Lynx never got closer than nine in the final minutes. There were positives to take from the second half, especially the way the team battled after such a terrible second quarter, but the main takeaway was that second quarter, and how the Lynx have to keep from ever repeating what happened.
"It was pretty darn challenging to overcome," Reeve said.