Neal: Lynx facilities are an added bonus for McCoughtry

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Field 3-2 of La Velle: Three observations and two predictions on Sunday.

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Angel McCoughtry played one game for Atlanta during the 2019 season because she tore multiple ligaments in her left knee. She recovered and had a productive 2020 for the Las Vegas Aces, but then tore the anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee last year and played just one game again.

She believes she is in good hands with the Lynx as she recovers from second knee surgery due to the team’s connection to the Mayo Clinic.

“I mean what better place after an injury to be?” said McCoughtry. “In a place that has the best facilities in the league, you know. I just walk around the corner and see the doctor.”

The five-time WNBA All-Star and two-time Olympian didn’t sign with the Lynx in February purely because of facilities. After all, she will now have the chance to play with fellow Olympian Sylvia Fowles, who announced it will be her 15th and final season. But the facilities weren’t an afterthought either.

Few WNBA teams share facilities with their NBA partners. The Lynx use the same grounds at Mayo Clinic Square – a sleek, modern training facility – as the Timberwolves. Players all over the league are noticing things like this.

McCoughtry thought she was going to return to Las Vegas this season. But the Aces signed Becky Hammon, who had just completed a long stint as Gregg Popovich’s assistant with the San Antonio Spurs, and McCoughtry was ultimately the wrong fit. She had teams interested in her but decided to play for Cheryl Reeve while enjoying the best facilities.

“As I weighed all my options, I had to see where I could succeed after another injury and who still believed in me that I could do what I could do on the court,” McCoughtry said. “And Cheryl was the perfect person.”

McCoughtry, 35, has averaged 18.7 points, five rebounds and three assists in his career. She averaged 14.4 points in 2020 for the Aces, her last full season. When the season begins on May 6, McCoughtry will take the stage with a Lynx roster that’s vying for the title because of players like Fowles. An extra punch is needed as Napheesa Collier, who led the Lynx with 16.2 points per game last season, will have a baby next month and the timing of her return is uncertain.

McCoughtry also loves ice cream and owned a shop in Atlanta. She would like to connect with a Twin Cities lounge and invent a flavor. She hasn’t looked for any yet, opting to stay in her apartment until it gets warmer. Good luck with that.

On cue, she was asked if she was getting food delivered instead of going out. And she pointed to another benefit of being with the Lynx.

“Because we have our own private chef, I don’t order a lot,” she said. “Most teams don’t have a private chef, so I enjoy that luxury.”

Just missed Miggy

Miguel Cabrera hit 3,000 career hits on Saturday, so it’s time to remember when the Detroit Tigers star was baseball’s most feared hitter and an RBI machine. Cabrera is also one of the Twins’ biggest regrets.

A Twins scout saw Cabrera as a 14-year-old in Venezuela and wanted to sign him on the spot. But international prospects cannot sign until they are 16, so the Twins spent the next two years enjoying a great relationship with the family. But when it came time to sign, their offer was too short, and Cabrera signed a deal with the Florida Marlins in 1999 for $1.8 million.

It was a decision that changed the franchise. Cabrera could have battled between a young Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau and lead the Twins to playoff success before being traded for a group of players who could have helped them sustain more success. Instead, his Hall of Fame career began in Miami.

Darrisaw on the rise

Left tackle Christian Darrisaw, once on the field, posted a 71.8 rating on Pro Football Focus last year, which is a great start to the Vikings’ 2022 season.

After recovering from a pair of muscle surgeries, Darrisaw made 10 starts. The talent was evident and the Vikings seem to have settled that position for the next few years. Darrisaw showed up to practices this month believing he belonged.

“Everything I do I try to stay positive and never doubt myself,” Darrisaw said. “I know I’m here for a reason, and I’m going to give it my all.”

Darrisaw is powerful and athletic. His run blocking is already strong. He needs more pass blocking experience; he gave up 11 pressures in two starts against Green Bay alone. Facing pass-rushing savants from Danielle Hunter and Za’Darius Smith in practice should help his development.

…AND TWO PREDICTIONS…

Wild at home?

The Wild will split their last two games of the regular season, which should be enough to take the home lead in the first round of the playoffs against St. Louis.

Big Mike hit?

Michael Pineda blanked the Yankees for five innings in his Tigers debut on Thursday. His next start will be against the Twins at Target Field but he will struggle against his former team.

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