Ex-Gopher Carlie Wagner takes a shot with Lynx
On draft night, Carlie Wagner and Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve sat down and talked.
Wagner, the University of Minnesota star, had just been taken by the Lynx in the third round. She was joining a team that, by the time trading camp started Sunday, would be extraordinarily deep at guard.
Reeves message: The first thing she told me was not to come in with the attitude of I have to make the team, Wagner said. You wont play your best. Youll stress yourself out. Its just a lot more work if you think that way.
Wagners odds are long. The Lynx have Lindsay Whalen and Seimone Augustus starting; and Tanisha Wright, Danielle Robinson and second-year player Alexis Jones last years first-round pick off the bench.
Indeed, for any young, untested player, making what will likely be an 11-player final roster will be difficult, though the situation for backup forwards and centers is a little less set. But for Wagner, rookie forward Jill Barta, forward Breanna Richardson (who is at her second Lynx camp) and others, the goal should be to make an impression.
Reeve wants them to not worry, be themselves, play well enough that the Lynx remember them.
Its a process, Reeve said. Thats what we want to impress on the young players. Its a tough nut to crack, this league is not easy to get into. But you want to get a knowledge bank on each of these players.
Reeve offered two examples. Jessica Adair was cut from Lynx training camp in 2010. She stayed in shape, and was called back at the end of the regular season. She played well enough to get into training camp in 2011, made the team and now owns a WNBA championship ring. Same thing with former Gophers star Shae Kelley, who was brought back during the 2015 season and was part of another Lynx title team.
I looked at the team, rookie Barta said. Deep. Veteran. Good. Coming off a championship run. Its like, What am I stepping into? But I have to take advantage of this. Learn.
So the drill is, work hard, be yourself, show the coaches something. Then, even though you dont make the team, go play overseas. Improve. Another chance might be coming.
This roster is obviously madly talented, so if it doesnt happen, it doesnt mean the door is closed, Wagner said. It just means you go in and put in more work, go overseas and come back and work harder.
Said Reeve: There are players who leave us that we say we are sure we want to see them again. We tell them, be ready. Always be ready for the phone call. Youre a trade or an injury away for the opportunity to come back.
The Twins will hold Lynx Night on Tuesday at Target Field. Reeve and the team will be at the game and Reeve will throw out the first pitch, most likely to Twins manager Paul Molitor.
Reeve, not surprising, took time after practice both Sunday and Monday to throw a baseball around so shed be ready. So what pitch will she throw?
A riser, I hope, she said. I hope its not in the dirt. The goal is to get it there. The bar is really low, though. You guys saw Seimone throw out the first pitch? I think it bounced twice. Theres a good chance Ill be able to beat Seimone.
For the 13th straight season, 106.1-FM will be the Lynx radio home, airing all 34 games in the regular season and all playoff games, as well as this summers All Star Game, which will be held at Target Center. John Focke returns for his sixth season as the play-by-play voice.