Eric Nelson

SPORTS NUGGETS: The LA Sparks and Minnesota Lynx have been on a collision course all season

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By Eric Nelson
September 20, 2017
GAMEDAY GOLD

 

MINNEAPOLIS – Sports Nuggets from the Land of Lynx...

•Hoops Destiny: No surprise that the LA Sparks and Minnesota Lynx will play in the WNBA Finals for the second straight season. The two powerhouse teams have been on a collision course all year…

•Pedigree Programs: The Sparks and Lynx have each won three titles and the winner of this series will join the Houston Comets as the only four-time champs in WNBA history…

•Solar System: There will be a galaxy of stars in this match up. LA has Candace Parker, Odyssey Sims and Nneka Ogwumike. Minnesota counters with WNBA MVP Sylvia Fowles, Maya Moore,  Seimone Augustus and Lindsay Whalen.  Another Lynx title would earn them another confetti shower, another parade and cement them as one of the greatest teams in Minnesota sports history…

•Quarterback-Tested: The Minnesota Vikings are facing some of the NFL’s top gunslingers early this season. In week 1 the Purple took on New Orleans’ Drew Brees, in week 2 they faced Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger, this Sunday it’s Tampa Bay’s young star Jameis Winston and next week it’s Detroit’s Matthew Stafford. In week 6 Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay come to US Bank Stadium…

•Quarterback Quandary: Meanwhile, the Vikings are in a QB conundrum. If the injured Sam Bradford does not return for the Bucs game, Minnesota is going to be hard-pressed to win. Case Keenum and his teammates will have to play much better than they did in Pittsburgh for the Vikings to have a chance…

•Deja vu: For the second straight season the Packers have been part of a venue christening on NBC’s Sunday Night Football. On 9/18/2016 Minnesota knocked off Green Bay 17-14 in the first game ever played at USBS. Almost a year later, on 9/17/2017, Atlanta broke in Mercedes Benz Stadium with a 34-23 win over GB…

•Peachtree Palace: The Falcons new digs looked spectacular on NBC. The $1.6 billion retractable roof facility has all the bells and whistles – including a halo board that circles the top of the stadium and is the seventh largest video screen on the globe…

•Nice Threads: The Miami Dolphins have some of the coolest uniforms in the NFL. The Aqua, orange and white color scheme is catchy and the team logo featuring a dolphin with a sun backdrop is quintessential South Florida…

•Prep Pals: Detroit QB Matthew Stafford and LA Dodgers P Clayton Kershaw both went to Highland Park HS in Dallas. On Monday night Stafford threw two touchdown passes in the Lions 24-10 win over the NY Giants, while Kershaw gave up his first career grand slam in a 4-3 loss to Philadelphia…

•Lion Kings: Detroit is 2-0 and on top of the NFC North after a solid performance against the Giants at MetLife Stadium. The Lions – a playoff team last season – are good enough to win the North…

•Coup de’etat: Blue Jay Nation flocked to Target Field for last weekend’s four-game series against the Twins. There were thousands of Toronto fans in the ballpark chanting and cheering loudly for their team. They could be seen wandering all over downtown Minneapolis – especially in bars and restaurants. Multiple tour buses from Manitoba, Ontario and Saskatchewan were parked on city streets…

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Lynx Notes

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Minnesota 87, San Antonio 78

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Post Game Notes

The Lynx move to 11-1 on the season and keep their lead over second place Los Angeles at two games atop the WNBA standings after tonight’s 87-78 victory over the San Antonio Stars. Tonight was the 15th home win in a row against the Stars, which represents a new franchise record against any opponent.

After tonight’s win the quartet of Seimone Augustus, Rebekkah Brunson, Maya Moore and Lindsay Whalen are now 122-30 overall when playing together. They have now passed Tamecka Dixon, Lisa Leslie, Mwadi Mabika and DeLisha Milton-Jones (Los Angeles, 1999-2004) for most wins as a foursome in league history.

Photo: MN Lynx PR

Sylvia Fowles finished with a game-high-tying 22 points and 10 rebounds, including 17 points and six rebounds in the second half. Tonight was Fowles’ 115th career double-double and seventh of the season. It was also her second 20/10 effort in a row and sixth time this year (46th career).

For the fourth straight game Maya Moore finished with 20+ points on her way to 22 points on 7-of-12 shooting and four rebounds. Moore went 4-of-4 from the free throw line to extend her streak to 17 straight made free throws dating back to June 9 at Washington.

Rebekkah Brunson grabbed 10 rebounds tonight, her third 10+ rebound game of the season. Brunson is now two rebounds away from passing Tina Thompson (3070) for third all-time on the WNBA’s rebounding list.

In a season-high 20:50 minutes off the bench, Natasha Howard led all Lynx reserves for the second straight game with eight points on 4-of-8 shooting, four rebounds and a game-high three blocked shots.

Led by Brunson and Fowles’ combined 20 rebounds, the Lynx outrebounded San Antonio 36-28. Minnesota has now had the rebounding advantage in three out the last four games.

Minnesota finished 9-of-18 (50.0%) from three-point territory. Moore led the Lynx by scoring 12 of her 22 points from deep. Tonight represented the second time Minnesota finished 50% or better from three (58.3% vs. Connecticut on May 23).

The Lynx head on the road Friday night to take on the Phoenix Mercury Friday night at 9:00 p.m. CT at Talking Stick Arena. The game will be televised on Fox Sports North Plus and can be heard on BOB 106 FM.

 

 

Postgame Quotes:

Sunday, June 25

Minnesota Lynx vs. San Antonio Stars

Minnesota Lynx Head Coach Cheryl Reeve

On the game. . .

“Despite what the game preview said, in terms of what people think should happen in a game like that where you have a team with the best record against a team with the worst record, we were fully aware of how well San Antonio was playing. We watched a ton of video, so we we’re not surprised at the things that they got done. I think we have an understanding of the parity of this league. I asked them to name one bad player on San Antonio’s team and they were hard pressed to name one bad player. There’s a couple of players on there that are some of the best players in the league. It’s a team that’s trying to figure things out and they are playing well. It’s not going to be long until they start winning games.”

On Sylvia Fowles’ performance. . .
“She had some big offensive rebounds and she put a lot pressure (in the post). We were going through Syl, we were going to run this thing through Syl. She had great reads on kick outs. I thought she took a lot of contact, made some free throws and it was vital. I just told her that I was proud that she fought through that.”

On Maya Moore’s game. . .
“She had the opportunity to knock down a couple of big threes and that’s what MVP candidate players should do for you. It has been well-documented that Maya had struggled early, but now she’s really found her groove. Understanding that it’s actually gotten a little bit easier for her. She hasn’t had people leave her in years and now, somebody has to leave. Maya is overall playing better. If you look at eyes, and I’m big on facial expressions, I think what you are seeing from Maya now is way different than what we were seeing in the beginning. I think she was struggling and now she is focused and doing the little things.”

Lynx Center Sylvia Fowles:

On the comeback win. . .
“A lot of our fans just see us win, win, win, but they don’t understand how hard it is. Night’s like this makes you appreciate your teammates even more. Everybody stepped up to the plate and took on the challenge. I’m happy and I’m just trying to push forward and get ready for the next game.”

On getting a big ‘and-one’ late in the game. . .
“I think (Seimone Augustus) was in a rhythm, Maya (Moore) stepped up big for us, Renee (Montgomery) came in and gave us big minutes, Natasha (Howard) came in and played big, so you definitely felt the switch going our way. We just wanted to keep the momentum going our way.”

Lynx Forward Maya Moore:

On her now scoring 20-plus points in four straight games. . .
“This is normal for me, which is now normal. My normal is not normal. I’m doing what I’ve always tried to do. I still feel like there’s another level that I’m working towards, getting to just personally in my own feel out there on the court. We’re playing great team basketball.”

On the comeback in the fourth quarter…
“It wasn’t about strategy, it was about effort and digging down deep and finding the focus at the same time for an extended period of time to put the team away. We would have liked to see that fourth quarter energy throughout the 40 minutes, for whatever reason it wasn’t there. . . Eventually something’s going to give if you keep the energy high and that’s what we saw tonight.”

San Antonio Stars Head Coach Vickie Johnson

On the Lynx challenging Stars’ leads…
“I think Sylvia Fowles, Brunson, Seimone, Maya Moore and Lindsay – that’s in their position. You know, I have a very young team but we fought. You know, Maya Moore made a big time shot. If it wasn’t Maya Moore it was Sylvia Fowles made a couple of layups. If it wasn’t her it was Seimone knocking down a big time shot. They’re vets, USA National Team… They’re used to pressure and if they would have had their bench players in I think those shots probably wouldn’t have been knocked down.”

On keeping players motivated…
“It’s about building a solid foundation for us. We’re a young team; players are 22, 22, 22, 23… Mac just turned 25; easy playing big-time minutes, this is just her second year. She went from ACL, to Phoenix playing six minutes, and now we’re asking her to play 25 minutes against some of the best players in the world. I think it’s about the process, going through the process but doing it right, every possession.”

On goals moving forward…
“We got a little time off. The most important thing now is to go home, get some rest and work Tuesday, Wednesday and get ready for the game on Friday. Just build chemistry because that’s the main thing, that’s the only way we can be successful as a team. For me, the most important thing to lead this team is basketball IQ. Wherever they go, if they go overseas next year they’ll be a better player than when they come back we will be ready to go.”

San Antonio Stars Guard, Kayla McBride

On scoring double digits in 10 out of the last 12 games…
“I have really great teammates who give me the ball where I like to get it, just trying to be aggressive. We’re still working on trying to be a great team both ends of the floor and I try to be consistent in that and that’s my job on this team.”

On the focus to win the next game…
“Just closing out games. I think especially on the road. We’re playing the best team in the league and we were winning pretty much 34 minutes of the game, but it’s those last six minutes where we really had to come together and that’s something we’re still figuring out.”

San Antonio Stars Guard, Moriah Jefferson

On beating her 10-point scoring average per game…
“I was just trying to be aggressive in the pick-and-roll. I know if we set the screens high enough it will be hard for the post to help up on me. I was really just trying to attack to get my teammates open and if they were leaving me I would take the shot.”

On staying motivated on the court…
“We want to get a win and so many of our games have been like this – we fight until the end and we had this six-minute period where it was a missed turnover, missed layup, missed free throw, missed something; another turnover, a miss and a make and the next thing you know you’re down by 10 and there’s two minutes left. So mental focus at the end of the game and half of these games will go our way.”

On Minnesota scoring 32 in the fourth…
“Mental breakdown. We were so locked down on the defensive end and when we went on those runs our defense was starting off and they started hitting shots and we weren’t getting through and playing our schemes the right way. And then we made a few key mistakes and like I said, the next thing you know you look up and you’re down by 10.”

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Larry Fitzgerald, Sr.

There are plenty of reasons to cheer for the Minnesota Lynx

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By Larry Fitzgerald
October 19, 2016
GAMEDAY GOLD

One of the greatest joys over my 38 years as a journalist who has weathered the test of time has been watching the growth of the WNBA and locally covering the Minnesota Lynx.

I have a great appreciation for the business of sports, and believe me it’s a business in which you find out who you can trust. You also find out in time how some in the business are quick to climb on the backs of dedicated professionals.

The Lynx keep climbing the ladder. They have established a standard of greatness, and all the other sports teams in town should be taking note.

Minnesota Lynx fans

Number 1 Lynx Fan!

Mainstream media throw much of their attention at the Vikings-Twins-Gophers-Wild and Timberwolves in that order. They have larger followings, and more macho men go to their games. In many ways the Lynx are treated and covered by some as if they are the secondary story.

We are in a unique time. It’s an election year, and we are about to potentially elect a woman as U.S. president for the first time in history to lead the most powerful nation on earth. Women at one time could not vote and had no rights in this country, and Black women were treated unfairly due to both race and gender. But as the old saying goes, “They’ve come a long way.” The WNBA, a platform that allows women, and predominantly Black women, an opportunity to compete and shine, is now in its 20th year.

The Lynx are trying to win back-to-back WNBA titles. Sunday’s remarkable 85-79 win at Los Angeles was a test of character and the will of this great team.

With four Olympic starters and the WNBA Coach of the Year Cheryl Reeve, they are indeed a talented group. Superstar Maya Moore excelled with 31 points and nine rebounds, while Lindsay Whalen made back-to-back buckets to break a 69-69 tie.

Sylvia Fowles and her game-high 13 rebounds, Seimone Augustus slashing inside, and Rebekkah Brunson doing all the dirty work grabbing loose balls and rebounds — what a team. What heart they have collectively. I know something about winning championships. You have to impose your will and desire to win for it to happen.

The Lynx have beaten Los Angeles four times in seven regular season meetings and Finals. Thursday night, at the construction site called Target Center, the Lynx will try to grab another piece of history by going back-to-back as champions.

Good luck, Lynx, and thanks for showing the big boys how it’s done.

Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Friday at 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm, and at www.Gamedaygold.com. He also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2). Follow him on Twitter at FitzBeatSr. Larry welcomes reader responses to info@larry-fitzgerald.com, or visit www.Larry-Fitzgerald.com.

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Dreams Of and Reflections On Olympic Gold

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Segment 3: We keep our Olympic touch going with the Rio Games starting this coming week.  Larry caught up with Cheryl Reeve as she prepares to fully transition from her full-time job as Minnesota Lynx head coach to the temporary position of U.S. Women’s Basketball assistant coach.  Then, he chats with Olympic gold medal-winning hurdler Roger Kingdom about his transition from world-class track star to NFL strength and conditioning coach.

Gameday Gold Part 3 / 7-29-16

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Hot Lynx, Rio’s Rings, and A Trumped Move

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Segment 6: The Minnesota Lynx have continued their blazing hot start, but there’s another team that’s just as strong.  The guys look into the talented WNBA Western Conference.  After that, what’s the biggest scare in all of the trepidations surrounding the upcoming Rio Olympics.  Plus, the PGA Tour moves on of it’s biggest events from one of it’s most recognizable “staple” courses.

Gameday Gold Part 6 / 6-10-16

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A Sizzling Start, A Bittersweet Return, & An Unexpected Guest

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Segment 6: The Lynx are looking for their own back-to-back title run.  We hear about the team’s unbeaten start to the WNBA season.  The Gopher baseball team is playing in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2011.  They’ll do so with heavy hearts, however, after the loss of their pitching coach.  And an unexpected guest (NBA.com’s Steve Aschburner) drops by.

Gameday Gold Part 6 / 6-3-16

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