Tuesday, May 30, 2006
Frustration growing for Augustus, winless Lynx
MINNEAPOLIS -- Seimone Augustus lost four games during her final regular season at LSU.
Two weeks into her rookie season with the Minnesota Lynx, the No. 1 overall draft pick has already lost three. The winless Lynx head into Wednesday night's game against the Los Angeles Sparks at 0-3 and at the bottom of the Western Conference.
It's no wonder the frustration is starting to mount.
"It's still early," Augustus said after practice Tuesday. "We have a lot of games left to play, but it can be frustrating if you're not used to it. But at the same time, you're on a different level of basketball."
Augustus certainly isn't used to it. The two-time player of the year led the Lady Tigers to the Final Four last season, where Duke handed them their fifth loss of the season.
"We lost [at LSU], we just never started out 0-3," Augustus said. "Everybody always says losses will help you. ... Hopefully we can get all this stuff out of the way and fix whatever needs fixing."
Not much is wrong with Augustus' game. She is averaging 19.7 points -- fifth best in the WNBA -- and has been every bit the matchup nightmare the Lynx hoped she would be when they drafted her.
And after spending the preseason and first few games just trying to fit in with the young team's other leaders, Augustus finally asserted herself on Saturday against Washington. During and after a 90-75 loss to the Mystics, Augustus chastised her teammates' effort and challenged their commitment to winning.
"In certain situations, it is time for me to speak up or try to be another leader on this team," she said. "You never want people to get satisfied with losing. It's never fun to lose.
"Just making sure we keep motivation, that's key. I felt the last couple games, there was a lack of motivation and I felt that, someway, somehow, somebody has to step up and be the one to get things going."
Some teams might look down on a rookie being so vocal on and off the court. Not the Lynx.
"I've been waiting three years for a player like that," coach Suzie McConnell Serio said. "As a coach, I can ride them, I can get on them. I pick my moments when I challenge their pride and attack them.
"But when you have a peer do it, it makes a world of difference. She's somebody who has the game to back it up. Then it becomes contagious, you just want somebody to have that fire, that fight."
Five-year veteran Tamika Williams knows what Augustus is going through. She said that she lost nine games her entire career at Connecticut and was stunned when she came to the Lynx and went 10-22 in 2002.
"It's a little bit tougher, more frustrating when you're young," Williams said. "The thing I like about Seimone is she talks. She's verbal, she'll get on you. We need our best player to be that vocal leader and I think she's becoming that."
Now, McConnell Serio said, Augustus needs some help on the floor from her teammates. The team's poor start can be attributed partially to a tough schedule -- the team opened the season with two games in less than 24 hours against Eastern Conference heavyweights Connecticut and Detroit -- and in part to Augustus' supporting cast not doing its part.
"We have to get a night where all 11 players come to play at the same time," McConnell Serio said. "It's not one or two players that can carry this team."
"Everybody always says losses will help you. ... Hopefully we can get all this stuff out of the way and fix whatever needs fixing."