As the 2011 Championship festivities preceded the game, many fans and onlookers wondered what the 2012 season would bring in terms of new promises made and hopefully kept. Last year, the team was strong, but not necessarily favored to win it all. They endured their share of bumps, bruises, sprains and heartaches and many of those came off the court. Through it all they maintained focus and finished the season as intended, world champions.
The hype leading up to the 2012 season was around the optimal first-round pick they managed in Devereaux Peters and how the core of their championship squad was all coming back. This included a surprising one year re-up of veteran Taj McWilliams-Franklin’s contract. After turning 41 in the waning hours of last season and bringing the Lynx and Minnesota a championship they had long awaited and dreamt of, she was thought to be making plans to announce her retirement. She stunned a few and relieved many others when she agreed to come back for yet another season with the Lynx franchise. With the essence & core of the 2011 championship team returning the buzz word and theme for the new season is “repeat.”
Tip-off in the home opener came and the Lynx seemed to have some tempo issues to begin the game. A few players did not appear to bringing the spark, urgency, and desire they’d displayed in the latter 2011 season and post-season domination. However, after the proverbial rust was knocked off, they did shine on their new floor in Target Center. With a balanced scoring attack and stifling defense they slated a 22 point victory against the Phoenix Mercury. Seimone Augustus led the Lynx with 19, but left the game and did not return to play after being hurt diving out of bounds to save a loose ball. As Lindsay Whalen pointed out in her on-court, post-game interview, the rest of the team “stepped up” and kept the momentum Augustus had fueled earlier.
This Phoenix Mercury team the Lynx faced in the opener is but a shadow of it’s former play-off self to begin their 2012 WNBA season. Reeling from a Penny Taylor season-ending ACL tear & a reported strained hip flexor that prevented old foe Diana Taurasi from taking the floor, they struggled. But new addition Charde Houston (a trade from the Minnesota Lynx) led all scorers for the Mercury with 24 and Dewanna Bonner added 22. The powerful and poised Lynx overcame the Mercury in spite of the stellar outside shooting from Bonner & Houston. They also debuted a frantic & frazzled looking rookie point guard in Samantha Prahalis who had her pocket picked and struggled to get a feasible game tempo going for her team.
Overall, the Lynx looked to be prepared for their “Road to Repeat” and the Mercury did not even prove to be a speed bump as they rolled to their 105-83 victory and a 1-0 record.