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At Lynx training camp, sometimes less is more

MINNEAPOLIS—Minnesota Lynx practice Thursday lasted all of an hour.

Coach Cheryl Reeve called it "a mental day," but loved what she saw from her team.

"It was nice, crisp; they really embraced the idea that we're only here for an hour, but we got a lot done in that hour," Reeve said. "I was really pleased with our day."

Those mental days have been part of the modified training camp plans Reeve has put together over the past few years.

Maybe five years ago, many of the Lynx's starters didn't arrive in Minnesota until well into training camp, after they finished their seasons overseas. That has changed in recent years, as more veterans have elected to skip the winter seasons.

So players like Seimone Augustus, Lindsay Whalen and Rebekkah Brunson have participated in every step of camp from start to finish.

Reeve recently said the Lynx were a little banged up, and Brunson noted that last week she was experiencing a "little bit of an adjustment period" as she acclimated to the pounding of going up and down the court.

"It's probably a typical spot in training camp for veterans, that for many, many years, they're not in training camp, because they're overseas playing, so they're not used to (it)," Reeve said. "Now you tack on a few years, some of them maybe not in as good of shape as they probably need to be for a training camp."

So, maybe three years ago, Reeve adjusted.

She's made a point to find the balance of getting her team to the proper conditioning "without overworking." She doesn't want her players falling to "camp legs, camp knees" or "camp hamstrings." Health is most important.

"You've got to be patient with it and you've got to manage it," Reeve said. "You have to be smart. We want to be great when we come out of training camp, but we want to be as healthy as we can be while we're trying to be a good basketball team."

Reeve noted she also doesn't want to "punish" the veterans who do arrive at training camp in time for Day 1.

"Training camp has a negative connotation," Reeve said.

"There's two a days that we used to do, there's a lot of work, and they know it's a lot of work. And there's no game for three weeks, so even though you're playing preseason games, it's not the same. You want to keep a certain freshness and a bounce in their step, get the good work in without them tiring of the process and then tiring physically."

Brunson called Reeve a "smart coach" who understands a longer practice doesn't guarantee more work will be done.

"We're a veteran team, so we kind of understand that if we get in here and get what we have to get done right away, we don't have to be in here for an extended amount of time," Brunson said. "We don't have to go seven days in a row, either. We're professional on both ends of it, we understand that you get in here, get the work done and get out."

Reeve noted that the Lynx still have to get their work in.

"But we don't have to go (hard) for two, two and a half weeks, you just don't have to, not with this team," she said. "I think there's other teams you might have to do that, but not with this team, and it would just be counterproductive if we did, and so we've just been really mindful of that."

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