Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve eager to lead All-Stars
MINNEAPOLIS -- It's not often someone as long-invested in women's basketball as Cheryl Reeve feels like a rookie.
But of the miniature army of Minnesota Lynx set for Saturday's WNBA All-Star Game in Connecticut, she's the only primary player embarking on a new experience.
The core quartet of Lindsay Whalen, Seimone Augustus, Rebekkah Brunson and Maya Moore all have been here before. They've even been together, in 2011.
Halfway through her fourth season in Minneapolis, Reeve has participated, too -- twice, in fact. But it came as an assistant.
Not as the lady in charge.
"I think that it's deserved," Brunson said. "She's taken us far."
And after feeding off the competitive juices that helped her lead Minnesota to the past two Western Conference championships and the WNBA's best record through the 2013 season's first half, Reeve is actually a little bit uncomfortable with the idea.
"It's a little bit odd," Reeve said, "to be on the same side as the people that you're competing against and you're trying to beat. You kind of develop that rivalry with some players and some teams, so it's a little bit odd to take time out from that and enjoy each other and represent the West. That's kind of our goal."
Luckily, she'll have six ultra-familiar faces by her side.
Per WNBA practice, each defending conference champion's coaching staff represents its side of the league in the All-Star Game. Assistants Jim Petersen and Shelley Patterson will be in tow, as will the four stalwarts that carried the Lynx to the 2011 championship and within a couple wins of it last summer.
Augustus, Whalen and Brunson are all making their fourth All-Star appearance. Moore would be if not for last year's Olympic break, which put the annual exhibition on a one-year hiatus.
Actually, if it weren't for the London Games, there is a good chance the foursome would be taking its third straight midseason trip together.
But to have their everyday decision-makers along means something extra.
"I don't even know how many this is for me, but just to be there with three other teammates, my coaching staff, it's gonna be a beautiful experience," Augustus said. "Something that I've never been a part of before."
Fans voted in Moore and Augustus as starters, while Brunson and Whalen will come off the bench.
Conference coaches select the game's reserves, and gave the team with the league's best record four player representatives -- more than any other squad.
"We definitely appreciate the recognition," said Moore, the Lynx's leading scorer at 16.8 points per game. "It feels good to know that when you carry yourself a certain way and work hard, that people respect that."
It's a testament to the entire organization, too, Whalen said.
"To have coaches going and four of us going shows what the franchise has been able to do the last couple of years," the league's No. 4 assist distributor (5.3 per game) said. "I know everyone's excited. It just shows what the team has been able to put together."
Reeve also receives a chance to work with WNBA leading scorer Diana Taurasi, Los Angeles Sparks star Candace Parker and perhaps even rookie phenom Brittney Griner, if she's healthy enough to play.
And while she spends her days -- and a lot of nights -- focused on beating said greats, Reeve yielded genuine excitement at coaching such a group for a couple days.
"You've seen the team on the West, right?" Reeve said. "That's gonna be fun. I'll know a little bit about how Geno (Auriemma) felt coaching the Olympic team."
Saturday's game, broadcast by ABC, tips off at 2:30 inside Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn., home of the Connecticut Sun.
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