Guru's WNBA Report: "Two" Better Than "One" But Lynx Top Tulsa
By Mel Greenberg
In a battle of No. 1 vs. No. 2 in terms of this year’s top two WNBA draft picks, the lower number came up on top Tuesday night.
However, just as was case over 90 percent, if not higher, of Maya Moore’s collegiate career at the University of Connecticut, No. 1’s team came up the winner in the sole league game on the schedule – a 75-65 victory by the host Minnesota Lynx over the Tulsa Shock.
The win propelled the Lynx to 2-1 after Friday night’s opening loss at Los Angeles and revenge win over the Sparks Sunday, while the Shock fell 0-2 with both losses coming on the road.
Moore was the overall No. 1 pick in the draft and after having 21 and 16 points, respectively, in her first two game as a pro, the native of Georgia was held to just seven off of shooting 2-for-10 from the field.
Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve, a native of the Philadelphia suburbs in southern New Jersey who played at La Salle University, sounded a bit like Moore’s former coach, Hall of Famer Geno Auriemma, in discussing her superstar rookie’s performance against the Shock.
“Maya plays with great energy and she sometimes doesn't know how to turn it off. She just gets rushed and tries to make a home run play," Reeve said.
Meanwhile, young Australian 6-foot-8 center Elizabeth Cambage, who was the No. 2 overall pick, had 16 points and 15 rebounds, but former Georgetown star Rebekkah Brunson and ageless veteran Taj McWilliams-Franklin hounded the 19-year-old to 5 of 14 from the field.
"When she gets used to the league she's going to be a real presence inside," Brunson said. "She is very fundamental and strong in there."
Moore and Cambage were on opposing sides internationally last year when Auiremma, who will coach the Olympic team, guided the USA squad in September to the FIBA World Championship in the Czech Republic.
Meanwhile, Brunson against Tulsa had another outstanding effort, collecting her third straight double double Tuesday night in the game in the Target Center with 17 points and 15 rebounds as the Lynx opened with a fast pace and built a 20-point lead after three quarters before the Shock rallied a bit in the final minutes.
"She is just relentless. She doesn't know any other way," Reeve said of Brunson, who played for the former Sacramento Monarchs before coming to Minnesota last year off the dispersal draft. “Her play is contagious.”
Reeve was a member of the Shock contingent in its previous existence as an assistant to Bill Laimbeer in Detroit and also served as player personnel director after his departure in the final season before the franchise moved a year ago to Tulsa.
In Tuesday’s game, Lynx all-star guard Lindsay Whalen, who came back near her home in Minnesota a year ago in the trade that sent Renee Montgomery and the overall No. 1 pick to the Connecticut Sun, had 16 points. Second-year pro and former Virginia star Monica Wright scored 10.
That overall No. 1 pick became former Connecticut star Tina Charles, who became the 2010 rookie of the year.
Former North Carolina star Ivory Latta had 11 points and newcomer Andrea Riley scored 10 for the Shock against the Lynx.
Marion Jones, the former track star who joined the Shock a year ago to return to the basketball career she enjoyed at North Carolina, was scoreless in 8 minutes, 59 seconds of play, all-star while Sheryl Swoopes, who has returned to the league after two seasons and was one of the original 1997 three charter players, did not see action with Tulsa.
After the WNBA has another idle night Wednesday as it did Monday, Minnesota will face another strong test within the Western Conference Thursday when the Lynx travel to the defending champion Seattle Storm.
Earlier in the evening the Washington Mystics will be in Atlanta to play the Eastern Conference defending champion Dream, which ousted Washington 2-0 in the best-of-three Eastern semifinals a year ago.
The Mystics had held the No. 1 seed after tying the New York Liberty for the regular season East title. Atlanta had the fourth seed but could have easily been No. 1 had not the Dream stumbled down the stretch before righting themselves in the playoffs.
Tulsa’s next game is its home-opener Friday night against the San Antonio Silver Stars, who routed the Shock Saturday night in the league opener for both teams.