Updated:
Original:

Great expectations: Minnesota Lynx open 2014 as the clear favorite

Author:

"Loserville" doesn't apply to the Minnesota Lynx.

While many of the North Star State's pro teams have languished in the playoffs (or even in the regular season) in recent years, the Lynx have constructed a team built for immediate and long-term results. Minnesota's talent has been abundantly evident the past three seasons, taking two WNBA titles in that span – sweeping Atlanta in 2011 and 2013 – and losing in the finals during the non-championship year.

The Lynx kick off the 2014 season Friday night at Washington, and prognosticators around the country see more winning in store.

 A Strong Core

The Lynx's combination of young talent and veteran leadership has proved a lethal combination. Maya Moore, the 6-foot, third-year forward from UConn, leads the way. Moore was the Finals MVP and First Team All-WNBA in 2013, is a two-time WNBA All-Star, led the league in both 3-point shooting and 3-point percentage last year – and is still only 24 years old. She's surrounded by fan-favorite Lindsay Whalen, talented veteran guard Seimone Augustus, bruising center Janel McCarville, and a strong bench led by Monica Wright.

"With a strong nucleus back, the Lynx could easily return to the finals," writes USA Today in its season preview.

ESPN describes Minnesota as the favorite once again, and says the team could challenge the late 1990s Houston Comets as a WNBA dynasty.

"And considering the core group that has gotten the Lynx to this point is still together and playing well," ESPN says, "it's natural to wonder just how many titles Minnesota can win."

The WNBA general managers seem to feel the same way. In a preseason survey of league GMs, asking which team was most likely to win the title, the Lynx collected 58 percent of the vote. The No. 2 team, the Los Angeles Sparks, secured just 25 percent. Meanwhile Moore's name showed up in a number of categories (including bets small forward and top player to start a ranchise with) on a survey about top individual players; Whalen was also named top point guard in that survey. And Cheryl Reeve, beginning her fourth season with the Lynx, was picked as top head coach.

The Lynx are the WNBA's "gold standard," Newsday says.

Early Injuries

The biggest hurdle, at least right now, appears to be injuries.

Rebekkah Brunson, a 6-foot-2 forwardwho averaged 8.9 rebounds last year (good for fifth in the league), is out at least two months with a knee injury, USA Today reported. And the bench spark Wright had arthroscopic knee surgery in April, WCCO reported, and is out indefinitely. Reserve Devereaux Peters is also out for the start of the season with a knee injury.

USA Today says those injuries account for three of the team's six best players.

"The biggest key for the Lynx to repeat will be how quickly the team can get healthy," the site writes.

ESPN says the missing players could cause the Lynx to fall behind in the standings early, especially in a competitive Western Conference that includes the Sparks and Phoenix Mercury.

"Still, Minnesota simply knows how to win games," the site writes, "and there's no reason to think the Lynx won't win a lot of them."

History in the Making?

The Lynx have gone 80-22 during the regular season the past three years, and 19-5 in the playoffs.

If Minnesota lives up to the lofty expectations, the team would become the first to win back-to-back WNBA titles since the Sparks in 2002, the Star Tribune notes, and only the second team to ever do so.

A loss in the 2012 championship series – 3-1 to Indiana – still hangs over the team, the Star Tribune says. It's a painful "what-could-have-been" memory; the difference between potential back-to-back titles – as is the reality now – and what could have been four championship in a row. That would have matched the Comets, who won the title from 1997 through 2000.

Instead, the Lynx aren't even halfway there.

“That time in 2012 will stick with us until we retire,” Moore tells the Star Tribune.

Next Up

Pixabay - emergency room ambulance hospital

St. Paul man dies six days after crash on I-94

The Hennepin County Medical Examiner has identified the man as David Rodney Hardaway.

police lights squad car dark - Unsplash

Double murder in northeastern Minnesota, suspect kills himself after chase

The suspect died at the scene from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

chaska school fight

Anti-masker involved in school board meeting fight charged with assault

It happened last month at an Eastern Carver County Schools hearing.

Marcus Foligno

Marcus Foligno throws hands, scores game-winning goal in Wild's opener

The Wild forward scored with 7.2 seconds left to beat Anaheim.

Screen Shot 2021-10-15 at 10.01.55 PM

Large police presence at Emagine Willow Creek movie theater in Plymouth

There are few details at this stage as to what has happened.

Maple Grove Police Department

Maple Grove-based businessman convicted of fatally shooting wife

Wiseman owns properties in both Minnesota, Nevada and China.

betty and earls biscuits facebook

Jason Matheson's biscuit shop to briefly close ahead of relaunch

Betty & Earl's will shut down for two weeks before reopening under a new name.

Simon Merino Go Fund Me

Worker dies in forklift accident at paper recycling business

The victim was described as a loving father of two who was devoted to his church.

rosie means - go fund me

Authorities ID woman killed by hit-and-run driver who ran red light

A fundraiser was created to support the family after the "sudden and senseless loss."

Prior Lake Football

Watch: Prior Lake stuns Rosemount with last-second hook and ladder

The Lakers dusted off an old favorite to get a victory on Thursday night.

unsplas - maple leaf frost fall lawn

MN gets its first frost advisories, freeze warnings of the season

The coldest spots could dip to below 30 degrees overnight.

Fleck

Ahead of Big Ten clash, Huskers fans spend their Friday mocking PJ Fleck

Huskers fans are in a playful mood ahead of Saturday's game.

Related