After winning 27 regular-season games and dispatching of a very good Los Angeles team in the Western Conference finals, the Lynx looked like they were on track to repeat as WNBA champions.
But Tamika Catchings and the Indiana Fever had other plans, and that left Minnesota licking its wounds and feeling hungry headed into 2013. Very hungry.
This is a team with its core -- Seimone Augustus, Maya Moore, Lindsay Whalen, Rebekkah Brunson -- back on the floor, and the best thing about this group is its unwavering consistency.
This is also a team with a chip on its shoulder. Arguably the best team in the league over the past two years, the Lynx are feeling a little slighted over the fact that so many people are picking Phoenix to win the West -- and even a WNBA title. Even Los Angeles seems to be getting more love.
Minnesota might just have to channel its perceived "disrespect" into a big season.
Janel McCarville is back in Minnesota, playing with former Gophers teammate Whalen and getting reacquainted with WNBA basketball after a two-year layoff. The Lynx are looking for McCarville to catch up quickly and help support Brunson inside.
Off to her new career as an assistant coach in New York under Bill Laimbeer, Taj McWilliams-Franklin will be missed more off the court than on. McWilliams-Franklin contributed less on the court last year than in the title run in 2011, but she was still a steadying, calming presence that will be missed and will need to be replaced. Luckily, the Lynx are veteran-rich with Whalen, Brunson and Augustus.
The biggest hurdle might be finding enough scoring opportunities for everybody on the floor. Moore is coming off a monster season overseas in China. Augustus is one of the best shooters in the league. Monica Wright, coming off the bench, looks poised for the best season of her young career. This is a team that can hurt an opponent in so many ways.
After posting the best regular-season record in the league the past two years and making precious few major changes, the Lynx look like a near lock for the WNBA playoffs.