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June 9, 2011 at 10:54 AM

Checking in on Minnesota

MooreMinny.jpgThat word is being tossed around, again. No. Not “Female Jordan,” although Minnesota F Maya Moore is following Chamique Holdsclaw and Candace Parker to be tagged as such.
The real common phrase so far this season is, “They remind me of Detroit.” The Storm felt this way about Phoenix, which did pick up some former Shock players in Kara Braxton and Olayinka Sanni over the past two years. Now, the Detroit vibe is being tossed around in finding a comparison for Minnesota, which makes its first trip to KeyArena on Thursday with the highly touted Moore.
“They remind me of our team in 2003 in Detroit,” said Storm F Swin Cash, who won two titles with the relocated Shock franchise. “When you’re young and you have that sense of you’re invincible. Like you can beat everyone. Our average was 23.
“They (Minnesota) are very young. Now they have that little bit of experience with Taj (McWilliams-Franklin) being in the league so long and they can lean on her for a little bit of leadership. Seimone (Augustus) is in the best shape of her life, you see how she’s going. Now, everybody is starting to step up. They’re an unbelievable talent from top to bottom on their roster and they have that invincibility that they can beat anybody. When you have that type of swagger or confidence, that’s going to pull out a lot of games for you.”
Minnesota hasn’t defeated Seattle on the road since 2005, a stretch of eight games. But the Lynx and Storm games were only decided by a combined 10 points in 2010, the Lynx winning once at the Target Center.
The team is revamped with the additions of first-round draft picks Moore and Amber Harris (Xavier). Then there’s Mc-Williams-Franklin, who at 40 is still intimidating in the post. And stars Augustus (abdomen, knee), Candice Wiggins (Achilles), and Rebekkah Brunson (knee) are the healthiest they’ve been. The Lynx (2-1) have won their past two games to open the season, splitting a home-and-home set with Los Angeles and defeating Tulsa.
Thursday, the highlight matchups will be between PGs Sue Bird-Lindsay Whalen and Cash-Moore. The rookie is averaging 14.7 points and 4.7 boards in her opening three games of the season.
“They’ve got a good team,” Storm coach Brian Agler said. “Our defense is really going to be tested. They really do have a lot of offensive weapons out there and they’ve got a good combination of great young talent with some very savvy veteran players at key positions like Lindsay Whalen at the guard spot and Taj and Brunson at the post positions.
“They’re doing a lot of the same things, they’ve added some different things offensively. But they’re playing with a good level of confidence.”
The Storm (1-0) had three days to prepare for the game after a 78-71 win against the Mercury. The defending champion Seattle was given a gift to start the season, playing just three games in the opening two weeks of the season.
Storm F Camille Little used the time well and will start after suffering a sprained right knee in the team’s opener on Saturday. Teammate Belinda Snell (ankle) may remain out, not practicing since suffering her injury in the team’s exhibition opener in May. She saw a doctor on Tuesday, Agler stating that Snell is continuing to make good progress.
“I’m fine,” Little said of the knee. “It’s early and (Rebekkah) is doing what she wants to do. She’s getting offensive boards and she’s playing her game. It’s going to be tough for us. We’re going to do our best to keep her out the lane and from getting O-boards.
“They’re a good team. We can’t take a night off. If we have a rough start, it hurts us. Especially with teams like that that have great perimeter play and post-up players. We’ve got to make sure we’re ready.”

*PHOTO CREDIT: Maya Moore in her debut by Juan Ocampo/NBAE via Getty Images



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