1 + 1 = #1?
As two of the WNBA’s #1 picks, Seimone Augustus and Maya Moore have Lynx fans thinking title.
By Stephen Litel / @stephenlitel
Cynthia Cooper and Sheryl Swoopes.
Sue Bird and Lauren Jackson.
Diana Taurasi and Cappie Pondexter.
There have been many great one-two punches in WNBA history and the Maya Moore/Seimone Augustus combination could very well join that list soon. After all, Minnesota’s potentially great one-two punch shares the same jersey numbers as one of the greatest combinations in basketball history, no matter the sex of the players: Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen.
“I’m going to use that, definitely, for motivation,” said Moore when the coincidence was pointed out to her. “We have so much potential to do a lot of great things between her and I. She’s one of those players that when she gets hot, it’s tough to stop her. You’ve got to kind of pick your poison when it comes to us.”
The Lynx will need a bit of time to truly get to know each other on the court and play the way they expect of themselves, which, of course is a high level of play resulting in wins. While it may be fashionable of media to expect perfection immediately from a roster with so many great players, the Lynx have their own goals and timeframes.
“I think you guys (the media) put a lot of pressure on us, but yeah, with the addition of Maya and everything that she brings in, it is a lot of pressure for us,” said Augustus. “That’s what we’re here for. We want to take a lot of pressure off her shoulders. We’re like her big sisters, so with all that added expectations, we’re going to have to play harder to help her get over that hump.”
Maya Moore scored 21 points in her WNBA debut Friday night in a great WNBA tip-off game against the Los Angeles Sparks. Although the Lynx eventually lost the contest to a more veteran team, it was easy to catch glimpses of what the team could become. What should be scary for opponents is the fact that Moore is still learning, still adjusting to playing at the professional level.
“It’s tough for me sometimes because I’m so competitive and so hard on myself that I have to remember this is new, it’s going to take a little bit of time,” said Moore. “At the same time, I don’t want to make the same mistakes twice. I want to continue to learn at a very fast pace. It’s not so much that it’s quicker, it’s just different. You have to learn how to slow down sometimes and then speed up. It’s a lot different. There’s no five-second rule on the ball, there’s a 24-second shot clock, so there’s different things you slow down with like speeding up because of the shot clock and then slowing down when you have the ball and you’re stuck because there’s no five-second call. Just different things like that, so I’ve been trying to work on those.”
Augustus, of all people, knows the pressure she may be feeling as she kicks off her professional career with such hype and great expectations. Augustus came to a Minnesota Lynx team as the hope that better days were ahead while Moore, seemingly comes at a time when the Lynx are ready to achieve those better times. Augustus knows her rookie teammate is ready and prepared, as her credentials upon entering the league are, arguably, the greatest of all-time.
“It’s always a lot of expectations and pressure on us as we come in as number one picks,” said Augustus. “You know, you just have to take it in stride and she’s been great so far and I can only expect her to be great once the season kicks off. The pressure won’t get to her. The expectations won’t get to her.”
The full line of stats from Moore’s WNBA debut reads like this: 21 points on 7/17 shooting, 4/11 from three, four rebounds, four assists and only two turnovers in 29:02 minutes. Not bad at all, but since the Lynx lost the game, you can expect Moore to demand more of her team at home on Sunday against the same Sparks team.
“I’ve learned, as far as the pace of the game and the speed, it’s a lot different from college, so I’ve been trying to work on that and realizing everyone’s a lot bigger, a lot quicker,” said Moore. “I have to adjust some of things I was able to get away with at the collegiate level, but it’s also a real good group of people who, I think, love basketball, want to win. We’ve got enough people on the team who are competitors and have that passion to want to win and so, as long as I’m surrounded by people who are competitive and want to win, I’m happy.”
Moore enters a Lynx team with the players she needs to be happy. This is a team with a “leadership council” of Lindsay Whalen, Rebekkah Brunson, Taj McWilliams-Franklin and Augustus. Not many teams in league history can compete with a leadership team such as that. Augustus has already been through many heartaches during her time in Minnesota and is still amazed at the squad they have formed around her skills, as well as teaming her up with Moore.
“For the last few years we’ve been talking about ‘Oh, we need some more pieces,’” said Augustus. “I feel like all the pieces are here. You have talented post players, you have a great guard core, you got a great point guard in Lindsay Whalen. I mean, everything is there and it’s in place.”
With Moore’s recent signing with Jordan Brand, coupled with the expectations of the Minnesota Lynx on the court, the players expect higher profile fans in the stands. That could only be a good thing for the WNBA and, of course, they have their personal wish lists of whom they would like to see in the stands, watching them play.
“For many years, I’m like ‘Prince is the biggest celebrity coming from Minnesota,’ so I’m like ‘If we can get Prince to a game, that would be a big deal,’” said Augustus. “Now that she’s signed with Jordan, yeah, we can get Jordan to a game, whether here in Minnesota or own the road. That’s a big deal. If we get both, that’s just a dream come true right there.”
It may be difficult not to get caught up in the hype surrounding the team, especially as they are about to tip-off in front of their home crowd. Just remember to be fair to them. It is going to take them time to put it all together the way they envision it and nobody knows how much time it will take. The one sure thing to hold onto right now is with the competitors on this team, you can bet they are working as hard as possible to make to put it together completely as short as possible.
“I know the fans here in Minnesota appreciate when you come out, play hard and play tough, win or lose,” said Augustus. “They still appreciate that, but hopefully we do a little bit more winning this year than losing.”
The hype surrounding the team will bring more of those fans to the stands. if all goes as the team expects, they will see a great combination in Maya Moore and Seimone Augustus, as well as one of the best teams in the WNBA.