The WNBA season is officially underway for the Minnesota Lynx.
The Lynx kicked off the 2019 campaign on Sunday afternoon with hosting the first day of training camp at the team’s practice facility at The Courts at Mayo Clinic Square in downtown Minneapolis.
Minnesota will host training camp throughout the course of the preseason, which will consist of three games, slowly narrowing down its roster ahead of the regular season opener on May 25 at Target Center.
This time around, however, the Lynx are experiencing something they haven’t really had to go through in the last handful of seasons — that being seeing a majority of new faces fill the gym for the opening day of practice.
“We have a lot new faces, that’s probably the biggest thing. This is probably the most newness we’ve had since my first camp in 2010,” Lynx head coach and general manager Cheryl Reeve said following the first day of training camp on Sunday. “We have had some years where we’ve had some late arrivals and we knew we had certain players coming back.”
Out of the 18 players that are expected to report during training camp, 12 of those players are new faces to the franchise. Another notable new face is former Lynx player and newly hired assistant coach Plenette Pierson, who provided a noticeably vocal presence near the end of practice on Sunday.
Along with Reeve and assistant coaches Shelley Patterson and Walt Hopkins who will be returning in 2019, the six players that were with the team a year ago include Danielle Robinson, Erlana Larkins, Cecilia Zandalasini, Temi Fagbenle, Sylvia Fowles and Seimone Augustus.
“A lot of new faces and different energy. We had good vibes and I’m happy to be back,” Fowles said after practice. “I didn’t go overseas so I am feeling very rested and I’m just ready to get the season going. … These girls are amazing and it feels good to get some girls that we can run with. They are out here doing their thing.”
For Reeve, the flood of new faces means more time breaking things down in the early stages of camp, something she is looking forward to.
“There’s going to be a lot more teaching. Things that were a well-oiled machine like I could say something and the group just knew what I was talking about. This group has no clue. That’s the biggest difference,” Reeve added. “It’s refreshing in some ways, you get to teach again. I don’t have to worry about doing less, I can do more. That’s refreshing and exciting at the same time.”
With the fresh talent pouring into training camp, that means the Lynx will enter the year without some notable pieces to their franchise from the last few seasons, including All-Stars Maya Moore, Lindsay Whalen and, for now, Rebekkah Brunson.
Moore announced before the season that she will be taking the summer off from playing in the WNBA to focus on personal interests outside of basketball, Whalen — who is now the women’s basketball head coach at the University of Minnesota — retired after the 2018 campaign, and Brunson is still trying to recover from suffering a concussion at the end of last year.
All three players have played a large role in what Minnesota accomplished and built over the past near-decade, but now the franchise will move forward without them for the time being.
“It’s a little bit weird, but it’s expected. Change comes and it’s here. Just looking around at this talent, the energy here was great and they all want to learn,” Augustus said. “It’s hard to replace future Hall of Fame players, but you enjoy the growth and the growing process of these younger players. We are seeing what we’re about to become.”
Change is indeed here for the Lynx as they continue their transition from the success they had in the past to trying to maintain that success moving forward into the future.
“A lot of people are worried about me. I don’t have very many veterans, they are worried about me that I’m going to break out in hives and maybe not make it through the season,” Reeve joked. “I hope that I can be an amoeba in whatever the team needs. Whatever it is, whatever is asked of me, I hope I can be that.
“This calls for something different. I will work really hard in teaching to bring along the young ones. … This is a different time in our franchise, so I hope I can be that amoeba.”
Make sure to check back at Zone Coverage throughout the opening week of training camp to check out our extensive coverage of the Minnesota Lynx as they prepare for the start of the 2019 WNBA season.