Maya Moore Settling Into WNBA
Ten games into her WNBA career, Maya Moore is finding a comfort level and so is her new team, the Minnesota Lynx.
Maya Moore had to have known in the back of her mind—and probably the front of her mind as well—that she would be the number one pick in the WNBA draft in 2011. However, she never allowed the fantasies of officially becoming a professional basketball player and researching the players who would soon become her new teammates on the Minnesota Lynx seep into her mind during her final collegiate season. At least, not of her own volition.
“I think I had an idea of who was on the team, but most of the stuff people would tell me,” said Moore. “I wouldn’t go out and find it. I was very focused my senior year on making sure I was doing everything I needed to do to finish up my career at UConn and I thought I did a great job at staying in the moment in where I was and letting the Minnesota Lynx happen when it needed to happen. Now that I’m here, it’s probably even better than I had expected, just as far as the different pieces that we have that are making this team what it is.”
Moore found the adjustment to the WNBA tougher than she expected coming in, but with the talent and basketball IQ she possesses, even her supposedly “bad games” are above average. Of course, for a player with the competitive spirit of Moore, above average isn’t acceptable. Only perfection is and she is on a life-long mission to accomplish just that on the basketball court.
“I guess the easiest part is that it’s basketball,” said Moore. “It’s still the game that I love and have been working hard at for most of my life. It’s still the same game, so there’s an element of comfort in that, but then again, there’s a lot of little ways that it’s not the same game. The little details are so much more important here and that’s something that I always try to focus on. I have great veterans around me that have been helping me like Taj (McWilliams-Franklin) and Whay (Lindsay Whalen), helping me move forward with just positioning, decisions and certain parts of the game. I’d probably say defensively it’s way more important for me to be locked in even more because there are so many weapons at the three spot in this league that if you sleep for a second, they will burn you.”
Even with how talented she is, Moore found herself having to think on the basketball court to start the year, adjusting to the speed and talent in the WNBA. While Moore was never a player to rest on her laurels, she was almost always the best player on the court while in college, yet now in the WNBA, there are numerous players with the same skillset. When you have to think on the court, rather than just allowing muscle memory to take over, it slows you down a step. Now, ten games into her professional career, she is finding that she’s able to just play the game and the adjustments are becoming second nature quickly.
“Tonight I felt a little more locked in and I guess I had a better understanding of what we needed, what we wanted and I think when we’re all on the same page, there’s less interruption because of thinking,” said Moore after scoring a career-high 26 points Saturday night in a win against the Connecticut Sun. “We’re all in sync and it’s just kind of a flow. When we were like that defensively, we were great and getting out in transition. I’m trying to find that good balance of making sure I’m paying attention, I’m locked in, but when I’m out on the court, just playing as well.”
“A little bit day-by-day,” said Moore. “I’m getting in the Skyways a little bit, finding restaurants here and there, but I’m not used to that. I’m used to really just working all the time, then going back and doing schoolwork and just kind of sticking to a routine. It’s been nice to have a little more free time to go to lunch at a different spot or just drive around. I’ll just drive around St. Paul on a beautiful day. We’ve had some great weather this last week, so I was just checking out the neighborhood a little bit, Highland Park and there are some really beautiful areas. I’m really happy to be here.”
It should be a scary thought for opponents that while Moore has been going through her adjustment period to a new level of basketball, she has averaged 14.5 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.6 assists while shooting 43% from the field and 35% from three. Obviously, that’s not too bad for a rookie, but there is something else Moore is doing for the Minnesota Lynx that may have an even bigger impact.
“She’s just so fun to play with and I just feel like I can do anything when she’s out on the court,” said teammate Candice Wiggins.
Moore’s presence, example and determination give the already-talented players even more confidence in both their individual games and the team as a whole. With the Lynx currently holding a record of seven wins to three losses, the winning percentage should only go up as they continue to get familiar with each other on the court, continue to build their team confidence and momentum.
The Minnesota Lynx have already shown they are a much-different team from years past. Imagine what could happen once they put together the complete, perfect game that Moore has searched for her entire basketball life.