The Minnesota Lynx aren’t old, they’re experienced.
Just ask their coach, Cheryl Reeve.
“(You can call us) experienced, you can call us wise, like a fine wine, all that’s good,” Reeve told reporters this week, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press. “Old? It’s a little different. … It’s a little personal.”
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Minnesota’s starting five averages 10.4 years of WNBA experience.
And the wisdom gained over those years has served the Lynx, who open the 2017 season on Sunday against the Chicago Sky at Xcel Energy Center in Minneapolis.
Minnesota has won three WNBA titles since 2011, and was 3.1 seconds from a fourth in 2016.
“I think that’s the beauty of our team,” forward Seimone Augustus said. “No, we’re not the youngest team, but we are a team that knows how to win.”
Heading into the new season, the Lynx will have to deal with that brutal loss in the title game.
Minnesota, 28-6 a year ago, led the Los Angeles Sparks in the closing moments of Game 5 of the WNBA Finals. But a put-back by the Sparks’ 2016 MVP, Nneka Ogwumike, gave Los Angeles a 77-76 victory.
“It’s something that I don’t think you’ll ever forget,” Minnesota’s perennial MVP candidate Maya Moore told WNBA.com. “All the emotions. Both teams were easily champions, just one team had to lose,
“The way we lost, obviously, it was heartbreaking. It just gives you that fire and that hunger and that little chip on the shoulder to fight to get there again.
“Nothing like life hitting you in the face to make you live life even harder and fuller.”
A year ago, Chicago was 18-16 and finished second in the Eastern Conference before falling to the Sparks in the semifinals of the playoffs.
The Sky enter this season without their longtime coach and star player.
Head coach Pokey Chatman left to become coach of the Indiana Fever, and Elena Delle Donne, the 2015 league MVP, was traded to the Washington Mystics.
But, says 12-year veteran Cappie Poindexter: “Change is always a good thing. It’s a matter of how you embrace it. It’s like in life, when change happens or breakups happen or you get a new job. If you do embrace it, it could be a really good thing.”
Chicago will start 2017 without Alaina Coates (ankle), its top draft pick, and point guard Jamierra Faulkner will miss the season because of a knee injury.
But veteran guards Courtney Vandersloot and Allie Quigley will return for the Sky, and Kahleah Copper, acquired in the Delle Donne trade, has impressed during the preseason.
“Kahleah Copper is a superstar unfolding before our very eyes,” new coach Amber Stocks said. “She can do so many different things. On top of that, she’s enthusiastic, she loves the game and she loves to compete.
“And Stefanie (Dolson) is a fabulous leader and appreciates the importance of team and that’s evident in how she plays both offense and defense. She’ll be a great complement to Imani Boyette and it’s been exciting to see those two learn from each other and watch them play together.”
Dolson was also part of the off-season trade with Washington.
Chicago will make its home debut on Friday by hosting the Atlanta Dream.
Minnesota will be in New York on Thursday to take on the Liberty, the top team in the Eastern Conference last season.