Wednesday, December 21, 2011

2011: The year in Twin Cities sports

2011: The year in Twin Cities sports

Thursday, October 20, 2011

TSB Sports presents the Beach Blast Volleyball Tournament

This summer, TSB Sports added volleyball to its repertoire of sports broadcasts by covering the Beach Blast Volleyball Tournament at Lake Phalen in St. Paul, Minnesota. Held on the last day of Greg Cylkowski's All-American Volleyball Camp, our doubleheader featured a girls match with local high school players and a co-ed competition to highlight the athleticism of male players unable to participate at the high school level.

The featured players are Savanna Handevidt, Jon Mueller, Nick Mueller, and Derek Thingvold from Stillwater; Garrett Ahn, Zach Glocke and Chris Kirby from Centennial; Maya Hedstrom, Breaunna Lyell and Hannah Wolf from St. Paul Central; Lydia Anderson, Ciara McKee and Maggie Mueller from White Bear Lake, Annie Ryan from Cretin-Derham Hall and Julia Walfoort from Cambridge-Isanti.

Watch the matches below to learn more about the camp and the talent it molds, along with a public service announcement from St. Paul city lifeguards about pool and weather safety.

All-American Girls vs. Team KDWB (girls match)

Team Love vs. Team KDWB (co-ed match)

Friday, October 7, 2011

WNBA Finals: The atomic bond of Angel McCoughtry

The Atlanta Dream's Angel McCoughtry will rarely shy away from a press opportunity. The leading scorer in the 2011 playoffs, who broke her own record for most points in a WNBA Finals game with 38 in game 2, draws attention and scrutiny from fans for her on-court persona. No matter what criticism is fired at her direction, McCoughtry would not earn a second straight opportunity to win a title without the chemistry she developed with teammates, particularly starting point guard Lindsey Harding. Harding, who was traded to Atlanta prior to the 2011 season, offers a lens rarely seen in press coverage that demonstrates the strong bond between the two. Watch the video to learn more.


Listen to audio interviews from the Minnesota Lynx following game 2 of the WNBA Finals, where the Lynx defeated the Dream 101-95.

Monica Wright's "emergency power"

Jessica Adair takes playoff center stage

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

WNBA Finals: Lynx's Whalen and Dream's Miller joined in renewed rivalry


Minnesota Lynx guard Lindsay Whalen was nine years old when the state took home its last professional sports title in 1991, creating a small but intense rivalry between two markets.

The WNBA was six years away from creation, and Whalen's hometown of Hutchinson, Minnesota was still known for its tie to Little Crow, chief of the Mdewakanton Dakota tribe who led his people in the Dakota War of 1862. He was killed near the city by farmers in 1863.

Fast forward 128 years, where Whalen watched the Minnesota Twins kill championship dreams of the Atlanta Braves in the World Series at her best friend's house. Minnesota fans vividly remember the seven-game series, touted by then-commissioner Fay Vincent as the best in Major League Baseball. Arguing against that notion is hard to this day, with five games decided by one run, four games decided in the final at-bat and three games going into extra innings.

Whalen's memories include seeing thousands of white homer-hankies touted by Twins fans on the CBS broadcasts, and a taunt used against the Braves with a play on their city's name.

"Give Atlanta Mylanta, make them upset," she said.

Atlanta Dream guard Coco Miller was wishing for the Twins to do just that on the Braves. The Rochester native was 13 years old when the two teams met in the World Series.

"I came to the parade and missed school for that. It was a big thing for the state of Minnesota," she said.

To this day, Whalen gets chills recalling Kirby Puckett's heroics in game six, where the late Twins Hall of Fame center fielder robbed an extra base hit from Ron Gant against the Plexiglass barrier in the top of the third inning. Puckett would later deliver a walk-off solo home run in the bottom of the 11th to win game six, immortalized by CBS play-by-play man Jack Buck with the line, "And we'll see you tomorrow night!"

"Every Minnesotan still gets chills with that. He lifted the whole state on his back," Whalen said.

Game seven is no less chilling for Twins fans, with St. Paul native Jack Morris pitching 10 shutout innings, rebuffing several attempts from manager Tom Kelly to remove him from the mound. Morris' stubborn demeanor would be vindicated in the bottom of the 10th, when pinch-hitter Gene Larkin scored Dan Gladden on a bloop single to seal a 1-0 victory and a World Series title.

"I remember wanting to go to the Metrodome for the celebration, but we had school," Whalen said. "I still have my homer hanky somewhere."

"My parents were watching TV and I just heard them screaming, because they're big fans too. It was fun to be a part of all that," Miller said.

Retribution for Atlanta would come in the 1998 NFC playoffs, when the Falcons visited the Minnesota Vikings at the Metrodome in the NFC Conference Championship on Jan. 17, 1999. The Vikings were heavy Super Bowl favorites with their NFL-best 15-1 regular season record, whose vast pool of talent included rookie wide receiver Randy Moss, fan favorite Cris Carter, veteran quarterback Randall Cunningham and defensive stalwart John Randle, a Hall of Fame inductee.

The Falcons were playing both the upset and sentimental cards, even with a 14-2 record that year. Head coach Dan Reeves had recovered enough from quadruple bypass surgery to assume the helm throughout Atlanta's post-season.

The Falcons stayed the course against the Vikings, and capitalized when Vikings kicker Gary Anderson missed a 38-yard field goal with 2:07 left in the fourth quarter that would have virtually ensured victory. On Atlanta's next possession, Terence Mathis caught a 16-yard touchdown pass from Chris Chandler to tie the score at 27, and Minnesota head coach Dennis Green had Cunningham take a knee with his team deep in their own territory in the closing seconds, opting to win in overtime than risk a costly turnover.

Green's strategy ultimately failed, as Falcons kicker Morten Andersen nailed a 38-yard field goal with 3:08 remaining in overtime, giving the Falcons their first Super Bowl appearance in franchise history.

"That's my worst sports day ever," Whalen said. "I was at my aunt and uncle's (house) in Grand Forks. I was at a recruiting visit in North Dakota and I made my mom stay for the whole game."

Just as Green's decision haunted Vikings fans, Whalen's choice left a ghoulish mark.

"We ended up getting stuck in a snowstorm at Fargo, had to stay in a hotel that night. We didn't get any sleep. We had to drive the next day, in freezing cold temperatures, back to Hutchinson. I was sick for a week because I was so upset about the way it went down. That was our year," she said.

Miller was a sophomore at the University of Georgia during the memorable Falcons-Vikings meeting. Despite leaving the North Star State for the land of peaches, Miller stayed true to the Vikings' purple and gold colors.

"No matter what state I live in, I'm always going to be a Vikings fan. It's never good to see them lose," she said.

Whalen is glad to continue a series laden with historic moments, with her Lynx etching a marker following their 88-74 victory in game 1 of the WNBA Finals. 15,258 fans waving white pom-poms watched Rebekkah Brunson contribute 26 points and 11 rebounds while fighting a chest cold, while Taj McWilliams-Franklin got eight points and 10 rebounds despite suffering a stomach flu.

"We've done everything we can all season to get here, and we're going to do everything we can to bring it home," Whalen said.

With Dream center Erika de Souza back after helping her Brazilian team win an Olympic qualifying tournament in Colombia, Miller is confident about tilting the "rubber match" in Atlanta's favor despite her Minnesota origins.

"Now that I'm on the opposite side, hopefully Atlanta will prevail this time," Miller said.

Should the Lynx miss a game-clinching field goal and get a final possession to attempt a victory in the closing seconds of regulation, Whalen and her teammates will take no knees.

"We're going to play to win, baby. It's the only way to go," she said.


Click play below to listen to a one-on-one with Lynx guard Monica Wright prior to game 1 of the WNBA Finals.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

TSB Sports at the WNBA Finals

As TSB Sports prepares to cover game 1 of the WNBA Finals between the Atlanta Dream and Minnesota Lynx, we visited a few practices to report as much coverage as possible during the week-long buildup. More stories and interviews will be published as the Finals progresses, but you can energize your excitement by watching our assortment of video interviews. Just click the link for the person you want to see below.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

LosLynx fans greet Finals-bound Minnesota


Whoever earns the right to play the Minnesota Lynx in the WNBA Finals will be greeted with a challenge they rarely got in the first 12 seasons of Minnesota's existence.

The Lynx established their position as heavy favorites with a 103-86 win over the Phoenix Mercury Sunday afternoon, securing a two-game sweep and their first Finals appearance in franchise history. Six of Minnesota's eight players who saw floor time scored in double-figures Sunday in a series where Minnesota never went south of fifty percent in the two box scores.

Following their Western Conference championship celebration, the team boarded a return-flight and arrived at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport around 1:45 a.m. Monday.

37 fans and a sprinkling of reporters traded sleep for jubilee, bringing signs, cameras and vocal cords to greet the first Minnesota professional sports team to qualify for a championship round since the 1991 Minnesota Twins.

Watch the video below to see Minnesota's reaction and to hear a word from season ticket holder Carol Berg and marketing manager Megan Luebke.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Western Conference Finals: Defending a sweep


By no means are the Minnesota Lynx believing they can waltz any way they can with the Phoenix Mercury for game two of the Western Conference Finals Sunday at Phoenix's US Airways Center.

Minnesota can advance to the WNBA Finals with a win Sunday afternoon, but they are aware of how rapidly Phoenix can tilt the balance via the perimeter or pushing the tempo with perennial scoring champion Diana Taurasi, who is averaging 19.5 points per game this post-season.

"Phoenix at home is a deadly combination. Phoenix is like a cobra. You have to go in to game two thinking you're down 0-1," said Lynx center Taj McWilliams-Franklin, who scored 14 points in Minnesota's 95-67 win Thursday night. "They're going to throw everything: kitchen sink, shoes, Corey Gaines (Phoenix head coach). We have to be prepared for whatever they bring us."

While the Mercury were the only team to beat the Lynx twice this season, two Lynx victories in the regular season series came on the road, including a 96-90 win to close out the year.

"They're going to be real upset. If you can't get intense, excited and motivated for this, they've got bigger problems," said Lynx reserve Candice Wiggins, who scored 14 points off the bench in game one.

Scouting the Lynx in the Western Conference Finals is astronomically different than the tentative, jittery exhibition that nearly led to a first-round sweep at the hands of San Antonio. Minnesota rekindled its fluid offensive production after taking scoring pressure off point guard Lindsay Whalen, allowing her to focus on setting up her teammates. She has only eight points in the last two games, but the remaining Lynx starters have scored at least 13 points or more in that span, earning two blowout victories.

To illustrate, Phoenix never got closer than six points in the second half of game one. Their three-point and field goal shooting fell flat for a team considered the bastion of both aspects (Phoenix made 20 percent of their three-pointers and 68 percent of their free throws). As usual, the Lynx dominated the Mercury on rebounds, getting 42 against the Mercury's 26. Had the Lynx not suffered ball control issues early, they could have sealed a victory long before the fourth quarter started.

"We forced the ball out a little bit further, making every shot difficult," said Lynx guard Seimone Augustus.

Minnesota remains mindful of Phoenix's offensive style, as any opponent would when facing the WNBA's top-scoring team. However, the concerns proved to be secret blessings for the Lynx in game one. University of Connecticut head coach Geno Auriemma, making a guest appearance for ESPN as a color commentator, believed the Mercury's up-tempo game did not create scenarios for the Lynx to make defensive mistakes on their own.

Another factor favoring Minnesota is emotional stability. While Taurasi's outburst after fouling out in game three of the Western Conference semifinal round at Seattle has faded, Phoenix head coach Corey Gaines was charged a technical foul only 3:14 into game one of the Western Conference Finals. Mercury forward Candice Dupree was called for technical fouls in two consecutive games, earning them in the final game of the Seattle series and in game one of the Minnesota series with 9:00 left in the fourth quarter. Adding to the irony was Dupree's ESPN interview stressing the need to keep Mercury emotions from boiling that aired in the Seattle series.

"From a Dupree standpoint, it's important to keep her out of the transition game. She is such a great rim runner," said Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve after game one.

Of course, Phoenix's upset win over Seattle on the road will keep Minnesota's team in check while providing Corey Gaines' team confidence that one clunker does not define a playoff series.

"Augustus hit some great shots. We have got to limit her touches when we're in Phoenix," said Mercury forward DeWanna Bonner.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Western Conference Finals: Rivalry rising?


In order to begin a rivalry, several ingredients are required, with a winning franchise starting the recipe.

The Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers hold one thanks to its NFL-leading longevity in games played. At the height of the clash between the Colorado Avalanche and the Detroit Red Wings, a physical Western Conference Finals in 1996 set up a March 1997 climax with the Brawl in Hockeytown. A similar scrum in the 2003 American League Championship Series renewed a long, bitter grudge between the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox. NBA fans will tell stories of the peaks and valleys between the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics, whose 33 combined championships account for more than half of the league's 65 titles.

The 12 teams currently participating in the WNBA does not foster a geographical rivalry, so series history is usually the first indicator. That does not bode well for the Minnesota Lynx, who have had few opportunities with only three playoff appearances in 13 years.

Send in the Phoenix Mercury, whose roster and demeanor can naturally breed angst and aggression for opposing fans. Candice Dupree spoke of the "hothead" perception to ESPN prior to their game three win over the Seattle Storm to earn a match with the Lynx for the right to play in the WNBA Finals. Diana Taurasi has critics with her penchant for earning technical fouls when she disagrees with a call. Of course, there will also be bets placed on how many games both teams will break the century mark in this series with their fluency in the up-tempo, transition game.

"(Phoenix) is always putting pressure on your defense. They're one of the fastest teams. We have to expect a game with a lot of possessions," said Seimone Augustus, following the series-clinching win over San Antonio.

The Mercury pride themselves on the plethora of scorers to keep heat on opposing teams. Highlighting the reserves is DeWanna Bonner. She scored what was a career-high 24 points off the bench in their 112-105 win at Minnesota on July 13, the first of five 20-point games in 2011.

On the other hand, Minnesota's bench was blanked in an 85-80 loss at Phoenix Aug. 9, the low point of their streaky nature. However, observers must also note the 42 points they added in extended roles to close out the season with a 96-90 win Sept. 11. Jessica Adair recorded her first career double-double with 10 points and 13 rebounds.

"Our bench play is going to be a serious test. We're going to need them, especially for me. That running up and down, I'm going to need some subs!" Taj McWilliams-Franklin joked, referring to her 40 years of age.

The catalyst for building the potential rivalry is Augustus, the longest-tenured Lynx player in her sixth season with the franchise. Shaking off any sign of drama with her comic behavior, Augustus will seek to add defensive holds to her show-stopping routine.

"I've been in the league a long time, and Seimone has always been considered an offensive mastermind," McWilliams-Franklin said during the press conference after game three. "This year, coach Reeve put the onus on Seimone, as a veteran, to pick up her defensive intensity."

Ironically, while Augustus has been touted for improving her defense, her regular season numbers in all major statistical categories roughly followed her career averages. Augustus' increased supporters accounts for her career-low 16.2 points per game in 2011, even though her free throw shooting increased from 66 percent in 2010 to 86 percent this year and her field goal shooting climbed from 43 percent a year ago to 50 percent.

However, Augustus' first-round performance could create candidacy among the league's clutch players. Augustus is averaging 4.7 rebounds after the first round, up from her regular season average of 3.5. Her 21.7 points per game is 5.5 points ahead of her regular season pace.

In Minnesota's game three victory to clinch the first-round series with San Antonio, Augustus finished with 22 points and eight rebounds, two boards away from what would have been her second career double-double. Her first came June 10, 2008, when she had 11 points and 10 assists in a 75-66 loss to the Connecticut Sun.

"When she puts her mind to it, she's a great defender. She crashes, she plays hard," said Lynx forward Rebekkah Brunson.

While little expectation will be placed on Augustus to get double-figure rebounding with Brunson, McWilliams-Franklin and Adair for post options, she will exhibit ambition to defend the superstars to counter those who say she can only score.

"She makes them do something different. Contesting, rebounding and still has the ability to get smooth while she's guarding the best player. That's the evolution of Seimone. To see it on the court, it's awesome," McWilliams-Franklin said.

Phoenix holds the obvious edge in playoff experience. Taurasi and Penny Taylor remain stalwarts from the 2007 championship team, with Bonner and Ketia Swanier able to draw from their 2009 Finals run. Brunson, herself a champion from the 2005 Sacramento Monarchs, sees no need to lecture her title-less teammates about the playoff atmosphere after advancing past the first round.

"They know the tempo that we need to play, the intensity they need to have and the sense of urgency they need to play with. I'm just going to lead by example," she said.

Western Conference Finals: "Anchoring" a rematch


As the Minnesota Lynx host the Phoenix Mercury in the Western Conference Finals for the right to play in the WNBA Finals, the anchors for both teams will ignite a fire that has smoldered for seven years. That was the last time Phoenix's Diana Taurasi and Minnesota's Lindsay Whalen played against each other in post-season play, when Taurasi's University of Connecticut Huskies and Whalen's University of Minnesota Golden Gophers dueled in the 2004 NCAA Women's Basketball Championship semifinal. Fans know it better as the Final Four.

In their first and only collegiate meeting, Taurasi scored 18 points and picked up six rebounds to lead UConn to a 67-58 win over Minnesota, paving the way to UConn's only "three-peat" in school history after winning the championship game over Tennessee. Despite scoring just 11 points on 3-of-11 shooting, Whalen previewed what she would bring to the WNBA with seven assists and six rebounds.

Up to this point, Taurasi has the edge in terms of overall success, winning two WNBA titles to go with her three college national championships. Whalen's career could fit the "bridesmaid" role, coming close to titles, but blocked by quality teams.

However, Minnesota has utilized their home-court advantage so far, winning both games in the Western Conference semifinal round against San Antonio. Phoenix won once at Target Center this year, but coming to the first sports arena with a green roof is no longer a "walk in the park."

"It has always been hard to play here. If you look back at our games, we have been blown out here probably by 30 every year, even in our two championship years," Taurasi said after a 90-73 Minnesota win at Target Center August 2. "They are physically hard."

Taurasi and Whalen have started all but one game they appeared in (Whalen missed a start in her rookie season) and brought talent and stability to whatever franchise they represent. Both were the faces of their respective colleges and credited for bringing widespread interest to their programs. Both will be revered when they end their playing careers, whenever they return from prime form.

The wait could go on for years. Although Taurasi's on-court persona makes her the player opposing fans love to hate, she is averaging 20.8 points per game in her career, two-tenths of a point behind Cynthia Cooper. Taurasi is one of eight WNBA players to score over 5,000 career points and is on pace to break 6,000 next year as she has led the league in scoring five times in the last six years.

Whalen led the WNBA in assists during the 2011 regular season, marking a career-high 5.9 per game. Critics who contend her body is not durable enough to sustain a long career may not notice she has missed only eight regular season games in her eight seasons. Whalen is one of six players to record at least 3,000 career points, 1,000 career rebounds and 1,000 career assists, highlighting the all-around versatility that opponents have a hard time neutralizing.

"When you have one of the best point guards in the league, you win games. That's what you need, people playing at a high level," Taurasi said about Whalen following Phoenix's 112-105 win over Minnesota in the first game of the regular season series on July 13.

Taurasi was the first overall pick in the 2004 WNBA draft, quickly revitalizing a Phoenix Mercury franchise that finished 8-26 in 2003. However, Taurasi would have to wait until her fourth season to make her first WNBA playoff appearance, doing so in 2007. Even though Phoenix won the title over Detroit in five games and became the first team to be crowned champions on the road, former teammate Cappie Pondexter took Finals MVP honors for the offense she created via points or assists.

Taurasi would wait another two years before she received MVP recognition, earning both regular season MVP and Finals MVP awards as the Mercury would defeat the Indiana Fever in five games to win their second WNBA title. Taurasi averaged 22.3 points per game and 5.9 rebounds per game in the 2009 post-season.

Whalen would be scooped up by the Connecticut Sun as the fourth overall pick, where she smoothly transferred her point guard duties from the collegiate to professional level. Whalen would make five consecutive playoff appearances from her rookie year to 2008, including two Finals appearances in 2004 and 2005.

However, Whalen's 13.1 points per game and 5.1 assists per game in the 2004 post-season were not enough against the Seattle Storm in the championship with the Sun losing two games to one in the final year of the three-game Finals format. Whalen would have no better luck the following year, as her Sun fell three games to one in the Finals against the Sacramento Monarchs, giving future teammate Rebekkah Brunson her first and only WNBA championship.

Guessing how Whalen will influence Minnesota's offense is no more accurate than Powerball numbers. Whalen scored 35 points in the first two games against San Antonio, yet the mood suggested Minnesota was outplayed and could have been swept. In game three, Whalen had just four points and three assists, shooting the ball only three times, but her "decoy" role set up an 85-67 blowout to make a Western Conference Finals date with Phoenix.

"The way Lindsay is playing right now, like in some of her Connecticut years where she just controls the floor, and now she has some pretty good weapons, that is pretty good," Taurasi said on August 2.

Taurasi has plenty of weapons in her arsenal too. In game 3 of Phoenix's playoff series with Seattle, Candice Dupree had a breakout performance as Taurasi fouled out with 6:38 left in the fourth quarter. Dupree scored 20 en route to a 77-75 win at Seattle's KeyArena. DeWanna Bonner picked up her third consecutive Sixth Woman of the Year award. There is also long-time teammate Penny Taylor, who got a career-high 17 rebounds with 19 points in game three, continuing the reputation that emblazoned her with one of George Carlin's "Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television" for a nickname.

The chemistry among them is strong enough that Taurasi refers to her teammates by shorthand form, and the Mercury's series-clinching win over the Storm signaled the team can play in long stretches without the league's top scorer.

"It really starts with Dupree and Temeka (Johnson) and how they can get the tempo going," Taurasi said on July 13.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Minnesota's Maya Moore mulls rookie growth spurt

Following the Minnesota Lynx's 78-69 win over the Chicago Sky at the team's final regular season home game, TSB Television spoke with rookie sensation Maya Moore. While her numbers may not appear impressive upon first glance, Moore was voted a starter for the Western Conference in the 2011 All-Star Game and was named Rookie of the Month for July and August.

Moore's calendar during her rookie season was filled far beyond practices and games. She offered a testimonial during the team's Faith and Family Night event, detailing the struggles of moving around and being the biggest kid in class growing up. Moore then donned two outfits for the Lynx's third annual Catwalk for a Cure, enjoying her brief respite from studying formations and executing plays.

Watch the video to learn more. The Lynx host the first game in their Western Conference semifinal series against the San Antonio Silver Stars, taking place Friday at 8:00 p.m.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The 2011 Minnesota Machine highlight DVD is coming!


TSB Television concluded its first full season of Minnesota Machine coverage this summer, capturing the movement to a second straight division title. Now you can relive the 2011 season with your own DVD copy of Motoring the Movement, the highlight video covering the entire regular season and playoffs, from the deep unit of running backs to the special teams threat of Abby Smith! The video will premiere at the Machine's Dinner and Awards Celebration on Sunday, September 25th, and DVD copies will be available for $20 whether or not you're able to attend the Sunday gathering.

If you would like to pre-order a DVD copy or have a highlight video made for your team, please contact You can also find out how to be a part of the 2012 broadcast season, including sponsorship of a broadcast and guest appearances!

Check out an exclusive preview below!

Friday, September 9, 2011

MVP candidates make last push in Lynx home finale


There was an air of uncertainty at Target Center Thursday night for the Minnesota Lynx's regular season home finale against the Chicago Sky.

Statistically, neither team had anything to play for, with Minnesota preparing for their playoff run while Chicago was eliminated earlier this week.

However, uncertainty was replaced by MVP talk after the Lynx defeated the Sky 78-69. Guard Lindsay Whalen scored 20 points with 10 assists, 7 rebounds and 0 turnovers, the first time any player has put up that many numbers without coughing up the ball. Not to be overshadowed, guard Seimone Augustus scored a game-high 22 points.

"They played harder than any team would expect from a team that's not going to be in the playoffs," Augustus said.

Augustus was right. The Sky (14-18), known for close battles with the Lynx, shut down the opposing post players to prevent a runaway. Center Sylvia Fowles scored 11 of her 17 points in the first quarter. When the Lynx (26-7) contained her, guard Erin Thorn picked up the slack. 15 of her 17 points came after the first quarter, including four three-pointers.

The Sky even took the lead briefly in the fourth on an Epiphanny Prince three-pointer. The Lynx were clinging to a 67-66 lead with 3:49 left before finishing the game with an 11-3 run to prevent another home upset in front of 8,781.

"The guards were aggressive. They hit a couple tough shots when we were rotating. We had to earn everything we got," said rookie forward Maya Moore, who scored 16 points.

While Fowles will be watching the playoffs the same way fans do, she will have a rooting interest in former Louisiana State University teammate Augustus.

"She's back to where she needs to be, and I think her game is only going to get better," Fowles said.

Although predicting who will receive MVP is complicated by the subjectivity of the voting process, Augustus believes Whalen's final regular season home output was a great last-minute campaign effort.

"She's the floor general. She gets me the ball when I need it, she gets everybody in places where they're comfortable," Augustus said.

Augustus was not unnoticed either.

"Seimone is one of those players that puts those daggers in other teams when they're just starting to get a run," Moore said.

Minnesota on the road against the Phoenix Mercury on Sunday, where the Mercury will attempt to be the league's lone team to win a season series against the Lynx. Minnesota's next home appearance is next Friday, after Phoenix's victory over Tulsa Thursday night cemented San Antonio's fourth seed for the first round of the Western Conference playoffs.


Watch a pregame interview with Seimone Augustus where the mystery of Mike Peden's headband is answered.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Lynx clinch best record, Liberty secures playoff berth


The atmosphere at Target Center Friday night had an unusual vibe for the Minnesota Lynx contest against the New York Liberty.

Minnesota could not find their shooting form, making 33.8 percent of their field goals in a 78-62 loss. New York's Leilani Mitchell scored a season-high 24 points, banking six three-pointers. Seimone Augustus led Minnesota with 17 points.

"(Minnesota) was worried about Cappie (Pondexter) and Nicole (Powell) and left Leilani open. She's a good shooter," said Liberty head coach John Whisenant.

"We made their defense shift and work. They were so focused on helping the inside, they left our guards to shoot their shots," said Liberty forward Plenette Pierson, who scored 13 points.

From the start, New York (18-13) played with a sense of urgency knowing a win would secure a playoff berth in the Eastern Conference. For Minnesota, a victory or Indiana loss would lock up the first overall playoff seed.

Minnesota (24-7) fought well despite their shooting woes, going up by three with 3:53 remaining in the third quarter, but New York answered with a 15-4 run and never looked back. During that quarter, the public address announcer informed the 8,929 in attendance of Connecticut's 83-55 win over Indiana, giving Minnesota home-court advantage throughout the playoffs.

Knowing the Lynx clinched the best record in the league, combined with a 12-point New York lead with 5:32 in the fourth, head coach Cheryl Reeve took out lone starter Augustus and sent Candice Wiggins in her place. The Lynx reserves played the remainder of the game, giving the impression they were willing to concede a victory to avoid a needless injury among the starters and prepare the bench for the post-season. Throughout the year, Minnesota's reserves were considered a weakness for their inconsistency.

"It was a conscious decision to give them some opportunities to play in a hard game and see what they can do," Reeve said.

Another sporadic talking point among critics this season is Minnesota's perimeter defense. New York made 13 of 26 three-point attempts, finding an open Mitchell or Powell early and often.

"I've been struggling all season, so they keep telling me to keep shooting," Mitchell said

"I thought I brought her backwards. I'm glad to see she's back shooting," Whisenant said.

Reeve described how difficult it was to tell her players their regular season games no longer matter. Minnesota has never faced this scenario in franchise history, and the team was no less dejected about having their six-game winning streak snapped. Clearly, the Lynx would like to win the last three games for confidence, but their aim may be tempered by the long-term outlook as they have already accomplished their regular season goal.

"All the other long-term goals depend on how we play together, so we have to bounce back and put our focus on Sunday," said Lynx forward Maya Moore, who scored 16 points.

While the Liberty can now breathe after punching a post-season ticket, where they will be seeded is far from certain. New York is 1.5 games behind Eastern Conference leader Indiana, one game behind Connecticut for the second seed and one game ahead of Atlanta for the third seed.

"Everybody wants to win, so all the games are going to be intense," Mitchell said.

The Lynx and Liberty meet again Sunday afternoon at Prudential Center.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Lynx bench tells Mystics to "sit down"


The Minnesota Lynx are now one game away from clinching home-court advantage throughout the playoffs after beating the Washington Mystics 73-56 Tuesday night at Target Center.

Getting some help with Atlanta beating Indiana, one more Minnesota win or Indiana loss would officially give Minnesota the first overall playoff seed.

"We've done a good job of enjoying the small victories and turning back around and getting re-focused," said Lynx forward Maya Moore.

All 11 Minnesota (24-6) players scored, as bench production was pivotal for creating another runaway victory, scoring 29 points against Washington's (5-24) 14.

"They want to do well. When they know they do well, they play more," said Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve.

Although Lindsay Whalen exploded in the first half, making her first nine shots, Lynx turnovers and Mystics rebounding kept the game close midway through the third quarter. In that stretch, Minnesota's bench was blanked with the limited minutes they received.

With 5:44 left in the third and Minnesota leading 40-39, Monica Wright nailed a 22-foot three-pointer to spark a 13-0 run and the contest was never in doubt.

"We never want to be blanked. There's something inside yourself that you have to bring out when you're not doing so well," said Lynx reserve center Jessica Adair, who scored double-figures for the first time in her career with 10.

Adair, playing more minutes as she grows more comfortable with her leaner, quicker body, is less concerned about getting in foul trouble and more focused on contributing offensively.

"It's making all my free throws, making contested lay-ups," she said.

Whalen scored a game-high 21 points, finishing 10-of-12 from the floor.

"I was trying to be aggressive, get off the pick and roll, get in the lane," she said.

Mystics forward Crystal Langhorne scored 13 points with guard Matee Ajavon struggling to reach 10, making just four of 15 field goals.

Washington, eliminated from playoff contention some time ago, laid out a warning to any playoff opponent the Lynx get.

"Very hard-nosed, blue-collar workers. I think they'll get the job done," Ajavon said about Minnesota's playoff push.

Perhaps they understand the most out of any team. The Mystics traded their 2012 first-round pick for the Lynx's Nicky Anosike prior to this year's draft, meaning the Lynx will once again get to take part in the draft lottery to bolster a team already feared by opponents.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Lynx season now "a kind of magic"


The Minnesota Lynx added a few more firsts in their 2011 campaign against the Los Angeles Sparks Saturday night at Target Center.

Minnesota's 87-68 win gave them the privilege of being the first WNBA team to reach 20 wins this season and, more importantly, the first team to clinch a playoff spot.

"It couldn't get no worse than where we were at," said Lynx guard Seimone Augustus, referring to the franchise's struggles in her first five seasons. "A weight lifted off our shoulders."

Not that the Lynx felt weighed down leading up to a playoff berth. Clinching a spot has simply been a step all season in the team's ultimate goal of leaving their past behind and winning a WNBA title.

"We have that fire inside of us and we still got some work to do," Augustus said.

The Sparks (10-15) were the more energetic team in the first quarter, taking a 20-14 lead with Candace Parker racking up 10 points in the period.

The Lynx (20-6) communicated to their fans that they had control in the second, starting the quarter with three treys, ultimately taking the lead for good at 23-22 following a Maya Moore 21-foot three-pointer. Minnesota outscored Los Angeles 32-14 in the second and never let up on their way to their fourth straight win over Los Angeles after losing eight in a row.

"Yesterday, I came in the gym and shot 500 mid-range and 500 three-pointers," said Lynx guard Candice Wiggins. "You come in the game and just concentrate and that's going to help."

Augustus led Minnesota with 17 points, with Wiggins chipping in 13. Parker scored a game-high 18 points, although a more stingy Lynx defense would frustrate Parker after the first.

For good measure, the Lynx out-rebounded the Sparks 43-24 for the game.

While the magic number to reach the playoffs is now zero, the Lynx are seeking the magic number they wanted from the start of the season: home-court advantage throughout the playoffs. Minnesota is two games ahead of Indiana for the league's best record with eight games remaining for both teams. A combination of seven Lynx wins or Fever losses would cement home-court through the Finals.

"That's when you'll see the locker room excited. To go from second-worst to first, that's when we will celebrate for a short moment," said Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve. "Then you're measured by what you do in the playoffs."

Perhaps the biggest "magic number" of all is Minnesota's win total. In all but one of the WNBA's first 14 seasons, every championship team recorded at least 20 victories in the regular season. The Houston Comets were the only exception finishing 18-10 in 1997 before winning the first of four straight titles.

Maya Moore, who scored seven points in only 16:22 of playing time, may have acknowledged her battle to find consistency with her belief that Minnesota can go far beyond 20 wins.

"That's the scary part. We're continuing to sharpen up on help-side defense, continuing to communicate, making sure we're forcing players to do things they don't want to do," she said.


Watch below for special guest interviewer Lisl Von Steinbergs chat with Rebekkah Brunson on the development of Minnesota's young post player tandem of Jessica Adair and Amber Harris.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Pokey Chatman's living LSU legacy

A standout player herself at Louisiana State University, Pokey Chatman assumed the head coaching helm at LSU in 2004 in place of an ailing Sue Gunter. Although her tenure lasted three seasons, Chatman fielded a program that would qualify to four consecutive NCAA Women's Final Fours. Two of her proteges are now franchise players in the WNBA: Seimone Augustus and Sylvia Fowles.

Augustus' prolific scoring earned her Rookie of the Year honors in 2006, making three All-Star Game appearances while tying Diana Taurasi for scoring 3,000 career points in the fewest games. Fowles has made three straight All-Star Game appearances, earning MVP honors in 2010. Fowles is currently on pace to average a double-double for the first time in her career this season, as well as averaging 20 points per game for the first time this year.

Learn more about Chatman's composition of chemistry that commenced when Augustus and Fowles first wore their LSU uniforms by watching the video package.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Lynx "shock" magic number to 4


The Minnesota Lynx proved Sunday night at Target Center that a lack of satisfaction following a 28-point victory is indeed possible.

Minnesota won by that margin over the Tulsa Shock with a score of 82-54, as they matched their franchise record for most wins in a season and lowered the magic number of clinching a playoff spot to four.

"We weren't great, but we were solid," said Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve. "As we move down the stretch, we want to take it up a notch."

Minnesota's (18-5) win also placed Tulsa (1-22) in WNBA history by giving them their 17th straight loss, tying the league record set by Atlanta in its inaugural campaign of 2008.

No player scored more than 16 points and only two broke double-figures for the game, both coming from Minnesota. The Lynx guard tandem of Seimone Augustus and Lindsay Whalen put up 16 and 12 points respectively, with Whalen adding nine assists.

Sheryl Swoopes led Tulsa with nine points, but her team had trouble finding rhythm between their field goal percentage of 34, committing 20 turnovers and struggling mightily in a deliberate offense against a Minnesota team feared for their up-tempo transition game.

Although the Lynx believed they fell short of perfection, their dominant performance tonight temporarily alleviated the concern about stamina among the starters. Whalen played the most with 26:50 on the floor, with all four main reserves getting healthy doses of minutes. Backup center Jessica Adair took advantage of her extended time by posting a career-high nine points, adding two blocks.

"We're not in rest mode. If the bench isn't performing, I'm OK with giving Rebekkah (Brunson) and Taj (McWilliams-Franklin) 32 minutes, if I have to, to get the win," Reeve said. "Our bench deserves more minutes, and when they come in and perform, then it gives me an opportunity to get the minutes down."

Minnesota's win, coupled with a San Antonio loss to Chicago, gives them a five-game lead over San Antonio and Phoenix for first place in the Western Conference. The Lynx hold complete control of their destiny regarding playoff seeding, as there are not enough games left in the series between San Antonio or Phoenix for either team to catch them in head-to-head matches.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Lynx "bench" Sky on the road


Minnesota Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve did not get flustered with her bench after they were blanked in an 85-80 loss to Phoenix on Tuesday.

In another highlight of Minnesota’s chemistry, Reeve discussed what happened with the reserves and credited their focus that led to a 79-76 win over the Chicago Sky at Allstate Arena Friday night.

Minnesota (17-5) outscored Chicago (10-14) 30-11 from the bench, including 12 points and seven rebounds from three-point specialist Candice Wiggins, six points and five rebounds from rookie Amber Harris and six points and four blocks from second-year center Jessica Adair, who bested her previous career high in blocks.

“I give Amber a lot of credit. It was a great size situation where she matched up well, and I thought she made the most of her opportunity,” Reeve said.

“We didn’t start off the game with the defensive effort that we needed,” said Lynx rookie forward Maya Moore. “The bench did a great of making up for that and hit some big shots.”

Lynx guard Lindsay Whalen finished as the team’s high scorer, with 16 points and six assists. Sky center Sylvia Fowles led all players in scoring and rebounds, getting 28 and 13 respectively for her 14th double-double this season.

“I have to credit my teammates. (Courtney) Vandersloot got me a lot in transition. I can definitely see myself getting better,” Fowles said.

The Lynx were sluggish to start, trailing 17-7 midway through the first quarter against a team whose record is somewhat deceiving. Minnesota ended the quarter on a 15-2 run boosted by Monica Wright’s return to form in her second game back after missing five games because of a family emergency. Wiggins and Adair also pitched in offensively.

A Rebekkah Brunson jumper late in the fourth gave the impression that Minnesota locked up the outcome with the score at 78-70, but Chicago took advantage of miscues, including a Maya Moore turnover off an inbounds pass, to reel the margin to 78-76 with 38.9 seconds left. The 6,289 in attendance would have their pulse sent through the sky in those final seconds.

Vandersloot had an open Fowles in transition, but overthrew her 6’6” frame to send the ball out-of-bounds. The Sky played foul-and-chase with the Lynx’s Taj McWilliams-Franklin, who missed two free throws with 9.2 seconds left, giving the Sky another chance.

Shay Murphy missed a point-blank lay-up with 2.9 seconds left, and McWilliams-Franklin went back to the free throw line after getting the rebound. She made only one of two that time with 0.9 seconds to go, but Tamera Young’s half-court heave at the buzzer was too high.

“Shay had a good look. She made something out of nothing. I saw a foul. I asked the ref. He said there wasn’t one,” Young said, who scored 16 points. “That’s how the game goes. We have to adjust from it.”

Ironically, all four of Minnesota’s reserves who got playing time finished with positive plus/minus ratings for the game, contrasting with negative ratings for all five starters. Minnesota doubled up Chicago 16-8 in second chance points, utilizing the 42-32 rebounding edge for the game.

Fowles sees her Sky team gelling under first-year head coach Pokey Chatman and her new system, but with Chicago battling Atlanta for the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with 10 games remaining, Fowles said the Sky need to reflect the urgency.

“We got away from a couple things for those last two minutes, and it nipped us in the butt,” she said. “This game proved a lot that we can do going forward.”

Minnesota continues to move forward as well, with Friday’s win ending six straight losing seasons for the franchise. Should the Lynx beat Tulsa Sunday at Target Center, they will match their franchise record for most wins in a season. However, Minnesota remains content to leave history in the past.

“This team embraced 2011, making that a really special season. Nothing else has mattered to them,” Reeve said.

After Friday’s games, the magic number for the Lynx to clinch their first playoff berth since 2004 dropped to five. The number represents the combination of Lynx victories and losses from the Los Angeles Sparks where the Sparks could not usurp the Lynx in the Western Conference playoff picture.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Minnesota Lynx prowl catwalk for breast health awareness


Even in the most grueling stretch of their schedule, the Minnesota Lynx refuse to end the hunt to promote breast health awareness.

Following their Thursday victory over the San Antonio Silver Stars, the Lynx traveled to Mall of America's Nordstrom Court in Bloomington Friday for the team's third annual Catwalk for a Cure. Part of the WNBA's Breast Health Awareness Week, the fashion show raises money for the Minnesota Lynx Foundation, who in turn  send a donation to local breast cancer charities.

Participating players modeled two designs, which included a few outfits created by Lynx center Taj McWilliams-Franklin. The Lynx coaching staff also donned looks, with Lynx players in a state of wonderful surprise when head coach Cheryl Reeve hit the runway in her sole outfit of the evening.

Highlighting the fashion show was a surprise appearance by Charde Houston's mother, Dorothy Green. A breast cancer survivor, Green spoke of her journey in both English and American Sign Language to illustrate breast cancer's lack of discrimination among its targets.

Watch the video below to hear from Lynx guard Candice Wiggins, all the outfits modeled and Green's motivational speech.

Friday, August 5, 2011

"Mama" Taj parents 2nd Lynx buzzer-beater of week


In a perfect world, the defense exhibited by the San Antonio Silver Stars Thursday night against the Minnesota Lynx at Target Center would have meant a Stars victory.

Rookie forward Maya Moore failed to score, missing all seven of her shots. Guards Seimone Augustus and Lindsay Whalen, among the league's top guards in field goal percentage, were a combined 6-of-26 from the floor. Minnesota converted 27.5 percent of their shots for the game.

Somehow, the Lynx found themselves on the winning end of a 62-60 game against the Silver Stars, as center Taj McWilliams-Franklin banked the game-winning 18-foot jumper with 1.3 seconds left in the fourth quarter.

Not a bad time for Whalen to pick up her sixth and final assist of the game.

"I'm so slow, I was wide open. Everybody else went to Lindsay when she drove baseline. I'm sure she saw me, but it tipped Rebekkah (Brunson's) hand and it came straight to me," McWilliams-Franklin said.

The game-winner gave McWilliams-Franklin a season-high 18 points, marking her sixth straight game in double-figures. Reaching that score required some coaxing after McWilliams-Franklin committed five first quarter turnovers.

"All those turnovers in the first quarter? I was told to shoot. Rather than get in trouble and get yelled at, I'd rather shoot it," she said.

The Silver Stars (11-8) were unable to capitalize on the Lynx's (15-4) shooting struggles, making 38 percent of their shots. San Antonio never led by more than eight, and let a 23-17 halftime lead slip in the third, when Minnesota scored 26 points in the quarter.

Silver Stars guard Jia Perkins helped keep the game close, scoring all 11 of her points in the fourth, including three free throws after being fouled by Augustus with 11.2 seconds left.

San Antonio did have one last chance with an in-bound from half-court following a timeout call, but Moore disrupted a Perkins three-point attempt as the buzzer sounded.

"This is two great teams going at each other's heads. We got to put this in the back of our memory zone and get ready for Tulsa," Perkins said.

For San Antonio, Sophia Young finished with a double-double, getting 18 points and 13 rebounds while Becky Hammon added 15 points.

"Losing games like this is almost deflating. There's two good teams going at each other. You can tell, because it's coming down to the last-second shot," Young said.

Backup guard Candice Wiggins pitched in for Minnesota, scoring 15 points on five-three pointers. All but one of Wiggins' field goals in the last four games are from beyond the arc. The habit is hard to give up when she first grew confident with three-pointers at age eight.

"Strategically, we were down in that game, so I was like 'let's get some three-balls going,' " Wiggins said.

The Lynx did edge the Silver Stars in free throws, sinking 19 of 24 to the Silver Stars' 12 of 16. Minnesota also won the turnover category, committing 10 while forcing 15 against San Antonio.

Including Whalen's buzzer-beater to cap a 70-69 win at San Antonio Sunday, Minnesota has won the first two meetings of the series by a combined 2.8 seconds.

"You can't say this is what we meant to do. Thank goodness luck had a little choice in it for us," McWilliams-Franklin said.

Minnesota's victory increased their franchise-record winning streak to eight games. They now hold a commanding 4-game lead in the Western Conference, as San Antonio's loss created a three-way tie for second place with Phoenix and Seattle.


Watch this video for Mike Peden's pregame chat with San Antonio's Tully Bevilaqua

Click play here for Mike Peden's one-on-one with Becky Hammon, named among the WNBA's top 15 players of all time at this year's All-Star Game.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Lynx fourth quarter defense prevents Mercury rise


To use an old adage, this is not your mother's Minnesota Lynx.

After a neck-and-neck ordeal through the first three quarters with the Phoenix Mercury Tuesday night at Target Center, the Lynx pulled away in the fourth quarter for a 90-73 win, marking their franchise record seventh straight victory. The Lynx (14-4) outscored the Mercury (11-8) 23-11 in the final period.

"Our defense fell off. They built a lot of momentum. I don't think we were able to match their energy on either end of the floor," said Mercury forward Candice Dupree.

Credit for Minnesota's win easily goes to their defense, forcing 19 points off 16 Phoenix turnovers while giving up nine points off 10 turnovers. The Lynx even out-shot the Mercury from three-point range, banking eight of 17 attempts while holding the Mercury to four of 10 behind the arc.

Rookie forward Maya Moore sank the first five of Minnesota's threes en route to a game-high 22 points, despite scoring only three points in the second half.

"If you go top 15 in 15 games, she would have made it," said Phoenix guard Diana Taurasi, selected to the WNBA's 15 greatest players of all-time at this year's All-Star Game.

Minnesota guard Seimone Augustus added 21, leaving her 50 points away from 3,000 in her career. Augustus still has a legitimate chance of beating Cynthia Cooper for the fastest to 3,000 if she scores 50 or more in the next two games.

Although she was named Western Conference Player of the Month for July, Augustus is no less excited to still watch her teammates excel at their positions.

"I wouldn't be able to score the points or do the things that I do without them," she said.

The most exciting sequence for the 7,126 in attendance came in the final minutes of the fourth. Backup center Jessica Adair blocked three shots in the final 3:06, including a Diana Taurasi lay-up attempt on the left side that energized the crowd.

While her blocks may have increased the value of her jersey at a charity auction (the Lynx wore pink for the WNBA's Breast Health Awareness Week, Adair's sold for $750), Adair is simply following her personal goal of improving in every game.

"The block was awesome! It didn't win the game, but it was a great addition," she said.

Starting center Taj McWilliams-Franklin recorded her first double-double of the season with 11 points and 10 rebounds. While her acquisition in the off-season was marketed as adding a "pseudo-coach" to the roster, McWilliams-Franklin has scored double-figures in her last five games, averaging 12.8 points.

"I can always hit the 15 to 17-footer. That's how Cheryl Reeve knows me. That's how I won a title in Detroit," she said. "(Reeve) has to tell me, 'That's your shot, stop passing it up!' I shoot when I'm open or I shoot when I'm yelled at. Either one is good for me."

Taurasi led Phoenix with 20 points, although early foul trouble limited her time on the floor in the first half. Dupree, Penny Taylor and Marie Ferdinand-Harris chipped in 11.

The series between Minnesota and Phoenix has a different flavor this season. Before the season started, Phoenix was 12-6 against the Minnesota going back to 2006 thanks to their potent offense. The Lynx hold a 2-1 edge in this year's series, showcasing their offensive capabilities in the first two games and their defensive prowess Tuesday night.

"It's not as easy as it was in years past. We have to find a way to contain a couple of their major threats and make other people score," Dupree said.

Minnesota's victory, coupled with a San Antonio loss at Seattle on Tuesday, increased their lead in the Western Conference to three games. Minnesota can increase their clamp directly on Thursday, when they host San Antonio at Target Center.


Click play below for a one-on-one interview with the Mercury's Penny Taylor, who talks about her 10 years of service to the WNBA and the league's influence in her native country of Australia.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Lynx put shooting clinic on Storm


When the Minnesota Lynx suffered a 65-55 road loss to the Seattle Storm on June 24, Seattle's radio play-by-play commentator speculated the Minnesota Lynx had drafted over guard Candice Wiggins as a result of subsequent high draft picks.

On Friday night at Target Center, Wiggins showed Seattle and the 7,856 in attendance her role is no less valuable with time, sinking five three-pointers as the Lynx blew out the Storm 92-67.

"I knew about that comment, and I almost laughed at it," Wiggins said. "He doesn't understand what's going on in my mind. I knew it would take me a while to find a rhythm."

Wiggins had no shortage of rhythm with 16 points and five assists off the bench. Her point total matched a team high with guard Seimone Augustus. Augustus sank eight of 10 field goals to reach that figure, finding her groove with the mid-range jumper all game.

The Lynx (12-4) needed seven minutes to find their team rhythm, with the Storm (9-8) holding a 14-11 lead late in the first quarter. A 19-2 Minnesota run initiated by one of Augustus' jumpers ensured that was the last time Seattle would be a threat.

So dominant was Minnesota that head coach Cheryl Reeve found extended minutes for her reserves. Center Jessica Adair took advantage, scoring a career-high eight points in just over 11 minutes, while forward Chardé Houston drained all four of her shots and a free throw to score nine points in almost 10 minutes.

"Jim Peterson (Lynx assistant coach) is always in my ear about poise. I repeat it to myself, it's helping me a lot," Adair said.

"We have so much trust and faith in each other," Houston said. "Coach is always putting pressure on us to make the great plays, help each other on defense. All that really ties in."

Minnesota shot 56 percent from the floor against Seattle's 41 percent for the game, causing Minnesota to outscore Seattle in every quarter but the fourth, when both teams put up 18.

For the Storm, forward Swin Cash scored a game-high 18 points with Le'Coe Willingham adding 14, but the biggest surprise was the Lynx defense hampering the Storm's All-Star guard Sue Bird. Bird was held to four points and one assist, making just one field goal in six tries.

"Lindsay Whalen doesn't get a lot of credit for her defensive prowess. She was really impressive on that end of the floor," Reeve said.

The Lynx win gave them their first series victory over the Storm since 2003, which also means the Lynx own a tiebreaker should the Western Conference playoff picture get murky. Minnesota maintained their one-game lead over San Antonio for first place in the Western Conference and will face them in the first of four meetings Sunday at AT&T Center.


Click below for an extended post-game conversation with Candice Wiggins following Minnesota's Faith and Family Night event.

Click below to listen to Swin Cash prior to Friday night's game, as she shares her plans after her playing career is over.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Turnovers short Sparks against Lynx


The Minnesota Lynx demonstrated their depth to the fullest Tuesday night against the Los Angeles Sparks at Target Center.

Rookie forward Maya Moore struggled, making just two of 11 shots, while forward Rebekkah Brunson was ejected midway through the fourth quarter after receiving two technical fouls for comments made to officials. However, Minnesota cruised to an 85-72 win by scoring 35 points off 25 turnovers committed by Los Angeles. In contrast, the Lynx gave up only 15 points on 15 turnovers.

Helping the Lynx (11-4) capitalize on turnovers was guard Seimone Augustus, who scored 22 points on 10-of-17 shooting, and guard Lindsay Whalen with 16 points and seven assists. Whalen missed only one of her nine field goal attempts for the game.

"We just clicked immediately," Augustus said. "We had people in the passing lanes, getting deflections, the help side was there."

The Sparks (6-9) did feature the game's two top scorers, as guard Kristi Toliver scored a game-high 28 points while center Ebony Hoffman's 10-of-11 accuracy led to 24 points. Unfortunately, the rest of the team scored just 20, with goose eggs from starters Delisha Milton-Jones and Noelle Quinn.

"This is the second game where we started slowly. The problem is the first quarter where we dug ourselves a hole," said Sparks head coach Joe Bryant.

Los Angeles committed nine turnovers in the first quarter, with Minnesota coughing the ball up once.

Any doubts of Minnesota's closing abilities following the All-Star break were likely squashed on a key third quarter run. Los Angeles cut a 13-point halftime deficit to four, getting as close as 47-43 with 6:52 in the third. The Lynx's Taj McWilliams-Franklin then found Lindsay Whalen for a back-door lay-up, initiating a 17-2 run and signaling a potential end to the dominance the Sparks have held over the Lynx in recent years.

"They caught us off our heels. We just didn't value the ball." Hoffman said.

Minnesota's victory gave them a one-game lead over San Antonio for first place in the Western Conference and the league's best record. Adding to their aura is Augustus closing in on a milestone. After Tuesday night's game, if Augustus scores at least 103 points in the next five games, she would be the fastest to score 3,000 career points in WNBA history despite missing 37 games in the last two seasons to injury.

Currently, the record belongs to Cynthia Cooper. In previous circumstances, such buzz would direct all media attention to the 2006 first overall draft pick. However, with Augustus among four Minnesota All-Stars this year, she no longer carries the team's emotional weight on her own.

"I just sit back, relax and do what I do best: play ball," she said.

Accolades have been afterthoughts all season, as Augustus was not the least bit slighted over not being named to the WNBA's top 15 players of all time as part of their 15th season celebration. Fellow 2006 entrant Cappie Pondexter did get the nod, likely boosted with her two WNBA titles while in Phoenix.

"That's what separates those 15 players from me and the rest of the ladies that weren't up there," she said. "I want to get five championships and then I'll be at the top."


After completing pregame interviews, this writer received a request from several youth basketball players from Watertown-Mayer to autograph their game-day programs. The passion and joy from younger players seeing their big-league role models is indisputable. Critics still chastising the league for low attendance or interest should visit the tunnel before games to see the youth demographic line up for their brush with fame, complete with game-day programs signed by this writer.

Click play below to listen to Sparks guard Ticha Penicheiro, who talks about how her WNBA contributions highlight her home country of Portugal as more than just a soccer nation.

Friday, July 22, 2011

TSB Television runs with the Jaguars

TSB Television kicked off a new pilot in its continuing quest of sports coverage at all levels. This time, we traveled to Gangelhoff Center at Concordia University, where the Minnesota Jaguars hosted the Kansas Nuggets in a Women's Blue Chip Basketball League game. The rosters are made up of former collegiate and professional players who refuse to hang up the sport they love, playing in hopes of landing a professional contract overseas or in the WNBA. The games are no less exciting, as you'll find out by watching the video below! You'll also find interviews with Tavi Polley-Davis and Dana Olsen from Kansas, along with Minnesota's Jenna Smith, still owner of several school records while playing at Illinois.

Learn more about the Jaguars and the WBCBL by visiting their website.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Lynx hold off Storm "surge"


Minnesota Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve said Wednesday's loss to Phoenix would be all the motivation her team needed to respond with authority.

Following a road win against Indiana Friday, Minnesota followed up with a 69-62 home win over the Seattle Storm, even as Seattle controlled the game's tempo. The Lynx (9-4) were held to just six fast break points, but used a 22-2 run through the second and third quarters to build what became an insurmountable lead.

Lynx forward Seimone Augustus started slow, missing her only field goal attempt in the first, but finished with a game-high 19 points on 9-of-17 shooting.

"Our main thing was to get the ball in the post and let Rebekkah (Brunson) and Taj (McWilliams-Franklin) go to work down there. It started to collapse and they kicked out," Augustus said.

Lynx guard Lindsay Whalen got 13 points and four rebounds, collecting her 1,000th career board in the second quarter. The rebound made Whalen the sixth player in WNBA history to record 2,500 career points, 1,000 career rebounds and 1,000 career assists.

For Seattle (7-6), Tanisha Wright scored 18 points and Swin Cash put up 16 points and nine rebounds.

Similar to the first meeting of the season between the two teams, Minnesota carried a 47-26 lead following a Maya Moore put-back with 4:49 remaining in the third. Seattle, showing their championship pedigree even with no Lauren Jackson (strained left hip) or Camille Little (attending a wedding), slowly reeled in the margin on a charge led by Swin Cash and Tanisha Wright.

The 7,733 fans at Target Center held their breath when Cash sank a pair of free throws to bring Seattle within six with 1:33 left in the fourth. After trading empty possessions, Brunson provided the game-clinching play, following an 11-foot brick with an offensive rebound with 42 seconds left.

"Even though we do come back, it's a lot of energy, and it's difficult to get over the hump," said Seattle guard Sue Bird.

Whalen finished the job from the free throw line as Seattle's foul-and-chase game proved futile, and Minnesota moved to second place in the Western Conference.

Staying in front after going up big was a chronic issue for the Lynx last season, but Augustus credits spending the last half-hour of each practice simulating close-game scenarios for the team's improvement in defending leads this year.

"It's good to have a coach we understand. We're on the same page," she said.

"We're learning what play calls work for people," Whalen said.

The Lynx also learned this week that Maya Moore will make one more trip to San Antonio than originally planned; Moore was named starting forward for the Western Conference in the upcoming All-Star Game.

As the honor continued to symbolize Moore's popularity with the women's basketball community, the rookie expects to bring a few traveling buddies from the Gopher state.

"There's a good chance a lot of them could join me. I hope as many as possible," she said.


Click here to listen to an interview with Seattle's Katie Smith, who reflects on her storied WNBA career with the league now in season 15.

Click here for Seattle's Sue Bird, who was won two WNBA titles since joining the Storm in 2002.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Mercury "triples" past Lynx for shootout win


Just your typical game between the Phoenix Mercury and Minnesota Lynx took place Wednesday at Target Center.

Defense is expected to be an afterthought when these two teams battle throughout the season, and the first of five match-ups for the two clubs offered a glimpse, with Phoenix earning a 112-105 road victory. The win gave Phoenix sole possession of first place in the Western Conference at 9-4, continuing their surge with their ninth win in the last ten games.

High scores are expected because no matter who players attempt to defend, both teams have far too much talent to quell an offensive riot. Ten players in all finished in double-figures, with the Mercury's Diana Taurasi scoring a game-high 27 points, including five three-pointers. She added eight assists for good measure.

"It really starts with (Candice Dupree) and (Temeka Johnson) and how they can get the tempo going and today, they did a really good job," Taurasi said. "We just got a couple more stops towards the end."

Utility player DeWanna Bonner added a season-high 24 points off the bench, including three treys and a 7-of-7 performance from the free throw line.

With most Mercury starters contributing early and often, Bonner's lone goal was continuing to feed the energy of the league's most prolific scoring team.

"(Minnesota) hit some big threes, got a couple lay-ups off of runs. We stuck together as a team," she said.

The Mercury jumped ahead quickly, leading by as much as 13 before the Lynx (7-4) warmed up from the floor. Minnesota sought to utilize their advantages in rebounding and turnovers, and were headed that way with a 91-80 lead with 6:31 left in the fourth quarter.

Phoenix responded with three consecutive three-pointers, taking the lead for good with 45.1 seconds left after Penny Taylor sank both free throws following a clear path foul by Seimone Augustus.

With Phoenix leading 108-105 with 13.3 seconds to go, there was a quick glimmer of hope for the 11,820 in attendance when Taylor missed the second of two free throw attempts. Lynx forward Rebekkah Brunson misplayed the carom, sending the ball out-of-bounds and the Lynx's chance to win with it.

The loss marks the eleventh time in the last two seasons where the Lynx lost after leading by 10 points or more.

"Our defense was supposed to be our staple and we didn't have any of that tonight," said Brunson, who posted her eighth double-double of the season with 16 points and 16 rebounds.

Phoenix made sure of that by lighting up what was the best three-point defense in the league, sinking 14 of 27 from long distance while Minnesota made just 4 of 18, with rookie forward Maya Moore bricking all eight of her attempts.

"You expect them to make three-point shots, but the transition buckets, you can prevent those and it just didn't happen," said Augustus, who scored a team-high 22 points.

Minnesota will regroup quickly, as they prepare for their only back-to-back pairing of the season on Friday and Saturday, with the locker room aura reflecting their focus to correct errors.

"We have to get better at running people off the three-point line. We have to get better help," Brunson said.

The two-time WNBA champion Mercury already know about getting better, with no one sweating in the heat of losing the first three games of the season.

"We showed that we are a team that's banded together," Taurasi said.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Lynx shade Sun with third quarter run


WNBA fans and pundits considered the Minnesota Lynx the best three-quarter team in basketball last season, as their leads would usually only last to that point.

After the Lynx darkened the Connecticut Sun with a 90-67 win Saturday night at Target Center, the Lynx may be called the best third quarter team in the WNBA as they tied San Antonio for first place in the Western Conference.

Minnesota (7-3) outscored Connecticut (6-4) 23-6 in the third stanza as Connecticut made only two of 18 shots in the period. The Sun's shooting woes allowed the Lynx to blow open a 44-43 halftime lead and ride in cruise control for the rest of the game.

"Their defensive pressure in the second half was way better than the first and way better than ours," said Sun head coach Mike Thibault.

"When we play defense like that, it really sparked our offense," said Lynx rookie forward Maya Moore.

Proof was evident in field goal shooting, as Minnesota made 49 percent of their shots to Connecticut's 35 percent. Moore herself was electric, setting a new career high in scoring with 26 points on 9-of-14 from the floor, draining six of nine three-point attempts.

Even more impressive is who she compiled the stat line against, playing against several former UConn teammates for the first time since collegiate intra-squad practices. They include last year's first overall draft pick Tina Charles, Kalana Greene, and former Lynx guard Renee Montgomery.

"It forced me to focus because I know how talented they are," Moore said.

"Once you play with somebody so long, you know what shots are going to go in and what aren't. If you leave her open, they're going in," Montgomery said.

As Moore was tearing through her former college teammates, forward Rebekkah Brunson notched her seventh double-double of the season in her first game since being named Western Conference Player of the Month in June, getting 12 points and 10 rebounds.

Although Brunson's accolades attract growing national attention, with ESPN broadcaster Carolyn Peck campaigning to get Brunson in this year's All-Star Game on a televised game Tuesday, stats are still simply numbers for the Washington, D.C. native.

"I'm just going for some more wins. (If) we keep winning, I'm happy," Brunson joked with reporters.

Lynx guard Seimone Augustus added 20 points, hitting eight of her 15 shot attempts.

As Minnesota's chemistry and offensive production grow, so does the evidence suggesting their era of recent futility is shrinking.

"You can't double team anybody, and as soon as you give anybody an open look, it turns into points," said Sun forward Ashja Jones.

Montgomery led Connecticut in scoring with 14 points, with Jones adding 13 and reserve forward Kelsey Griffin chipping in 12.

Minnesota will get some regularity for the remainder of their schedule, as they no longer have any gaps of one week or more in between games. That also means fewer days of practice and less time to restore energy, but the transition is little concern for the Lynx.

"You don't have time to be tired, you just have to keep fighting," Moore said.

The youth demographic will get their chance to see Minnesota on Wednesday, when they host the Phoenix Mercury for their annual "Kiddie Day" promotion.

Click the player below to listen to WNBA President Laurel Richie's conversation with reporters prior to Saturday's game

Programs available for DVD purchase

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Autism: The Wall That Knows No Limits - Award-winning documentary series providing insights on autism rarely seen in contemporary media. Produced by someone on the spectrum, this series is a wealth of information for anyone seeking to learn about autism.
$15 for one episode, $50 for the complete series (4 episodes)

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What Are You? A Dialogue on Mixed Race - Originally a school assignment, this one-hour documentary explores a population that existed for many years but didn't get much focus until recently. This program examines how a small but growing segment of the population could shift racial and cultural identity. Screened at the 2009 Mixed Roots Film and Literary Festival and will be screened at the inaugural Critical Mixed Race Studies conference at DePaul University. $15

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From Vices to Verses: Featuring Voices Merging - From Vices to Verses: A New Era of Hip Hop and Action is a biannual conference held at the University of Minnesota. The goal is to promote the culture and history of hip-hop, which is often lost in the corporate mainstream representation. In this program, you'll see how the Voices Merging student group absorbed what they witnessed and how their experience will transform them as a group and as individuals. DVD copies come with 14 minutes of bonus footage not seen online or on TV. $15

Machine 2010 highlight promo

Minnesota Machine: 2010 - Geared for Greatness - Join the professional women's football team in their historic 2nd season. Despite several injuries that depleted the roster, the Machine finished 2010 with a 6-3 record and their first division title in franchise history, edging the Iowa Thunder in the Midwest Division of the American Conference. This highlight reel includes clips from the 2010 season and their interview on the cable television show Rollin' and Tumblin' - $15


Silhouettes by RZI Couture - The inaugural breast cancer benefit fashion premiere took place in St. Paul and was met with a fabulous response. All the models were breast cancer survivors or relatives of someone affected by breast cancer and all the clothing was designed by Rosalyn Smaller, owner of RZI Couture and currently fighting breast cancer herself. The TV version features testimonials from the models and co-host Miss Georgia of KMOJ. $10 of every purchase will be donated to RZI Couture to help the breast cancer fight! $15