Harding, Lynx Set for Major Rebound in 2008
|After missing the second half of her rookie season with the Lynx in 2007, Lindsey Harding says she'll be back at 100 percent by opening day in 2008.|
|Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images|
But without Harding, the Lynx struggled in the second half, losing 10 games in a row at one point and finishing 10-24, tied for the worst mark in the league.
Harding, however, has vowed to return, and seems determined to lead her young Minnesota squad back into the fold in the Western Conference. WNBA.com's Adam Hirshfield spoke with Harding in New Orleans about the health of her knee and her expectations for the 2008 season.
Q. First, and perhaps most importantly, how is your knee? How are you doing physically?
A. "The knee is doing well. I'm cleared to play… 100 percent. I've been working out, lifting, playing… the whole deal. I still have a lot of training to do to work on my power, but I think the hardest thing for me now is not totally trusting it. Because of that, I still have to get my timing back… and it's been six months since I played. So I'm now doing the basic old drills to get that timing back."
Q. Are you getting closer to the point where you'll be able to trust it?
A. "When I was at Duke, I had four fractures of my metatarsals. To help me out with it, they gave me this cast-like thing, they fixed my shoe up and told me, 'It's fine. You're just gonna have to trust it.'
"And in this case with my knee, the doctor told me my ACL was fine -- stronger, even, than before -- and that I was just going to have to trust it. So I'm just trying to go with it. Maybe I should be more careful with it, but if I'm too careful, I'm not really playing my game. The first time I got knocked down, I was a little nervous. But it's all good. The main thing is the timing, and that will come back soon."
Q. So how do you see the next couple of months playing out? What is your schedule looking like as we get closer and closer to the 2008 season? Is there a chance of going over to play in Europe? Will you be spending any time with USA Basketball?
A. "Yeah, I'll be busy. Every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, I'm working out and lifting. I'm adding in some shooting drills, playing some pickup. Then in March, I'm planning on going to Spain with USAB. Then in April, I'll be going to China with the same group to prepare for the season."
Q. And you'll be ready to roll by opening day?
A. "Yeah, I'm planning on being that way. I feel ready to go. Hopefully I'll be ready to go for USAB. That should serve as good training and prep for the WNBA season."
Q. The Lynx were a very young team last year… you had five rookies who got plenty of time. But now you're all a year older. And of course, free agency may change your roster around a bit. But how do you feel the team is coming together for 2008?
A. "You never know. It's kind of hard to say given the changes we could be making. But the core of the team is very strong, I think: Nicole Ohlde, Seimone Augustus, Noelle Quinn, me, Shay Murphy. We'll have another year of experience, but I still feel like we are young. And it's kind of hard to win without experience. We're going to try to bring in some experience, more veteran players, via free agency. Getting the rookies is easy. Yes, I have another year under my belt, but I'm still young.
"We'll see how it goes, you know? There were a bunch of games we lost last year by six points or less, and if we win those games, we'd be in position for the playoffs. But we're getting there."
Q. Do you, as a point guard, feel any personal sense of responsibility in helping your team take a step up to the next level?
A. "Well, there wasn't much I could do in the second half of last year, so I try not to worry about that. But as far as being the point guard, as far as coming from a winning program, I'm not happy with losing. I don't like it. I can't comprehend it, almost, that we won so few games. It's a position I've never been in before. Seimone and Noelle came in from winning programs, too, so it's not easy on them either. Being a point guard, though, you want to take over and make things better. But I think we're on our way."
Q. Is there any sense of what the Lynx will be looking for in the draft?
A. "I think it will have a lot to do with how successful we are in getting what we want in free agency. I would love it if we could go after the best player available, because that would mean we're pretty well set at every position. So if we can address all of our needs in free agency, we'll just be going after the best player still available."
Q. Is there a player on your roster who you feel needs to step up her game to help bring your team to the next level in 2008?
A. "I think I'd go with Nicole Ohlde, not that he had a bad season by any stretch. It was just because she had a lot on her plate. She was basically our only post player and she got triple-teamed every time. So hopefully we can get another post in there to help her out. But she's been overseas this winter and she's been playing really well, so I think she'll come back better and stronger next season."
Q. What about yourself? What skills are you really working on this offseason in hopes of taking your game to the next level?
A. "Probably shooting more than anything. Working on my range… my deep, deep range. When someone steps out on a screen and you're beyond the NBA three, we smallish players need to be able to knock it down. Those are shots I've made before, but I haven't really consciously worked on those kinds of shots."
Q. What do you think the Lynx are capable of this year? Are the Western playoffs your goal at this point?
A. "It's amazing how Detroit was so bad one season and came back and won it all the next season. It's all about the players you can add to your roster. And I think that's what our team is focusing on. Instead of building a team, we're heading more in the direction of going for it right now. And if we can get the right players in, the right fits -- another scorer, hopefully, and another big -- we can change a lot! Hopefully that means we'll be in the playoffs in 2008."