Lynx Trio Wins Gold, Builds Bond In London
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Seimone Augustus has been down this path before. A Gold Medalist in 2008 with the U.S. Women’s Basketball team in Beijing, she’s already stood on the podium as the National Anthem is played, felt the weight of the medal around her neck and returned home to a Minnesota fan base ready to celebrate her part in Team USA’s success.
But this time she wasn’t alone. Joining her in London over the past month were Lynx teammates Lindsay Whalen and Maya Moore, making Minnesota’s presence on the U.S. squad 25 percent of the entire roster. This time she returned home sharing the glory with teammates she refers to as sisters. This time she had backup when she couldn’t hold back laughter thinking about inside jokes from London.
This time, she was able to develop a deeper bond with Lynx teammates while she spent a month away representing her country.
“We got a lot of time together,” Augustus said during Wednesday’s press conference welcoming the three back to Minnesota. “With the Lynx, we kind of go to work and then leave. This experience gave us a lot of time together. It was more like a college setting. I got to hear Maya’s iPod drums to and from practice on the bus. It was a great time, but more importantly we showed the world what we are capable of as Los Lynx worldwide. We got an opportunity to play together. I think people understood that we are one of the best teams in the league.”
Augustus, Whalen and Moore proudly displayed their Gold Medals at the conclusion of Wednesday’s press conference, and with good reason. The trio not only had spots on Team USA’s roster—a team that, top to bottom, was the deepest squad in the tournament and finished with an 8-0 record—but they held their own throughout. At times, they provided the spark that kept the team together.
During a crucial second half against Australia in the semifinals, the U.S. needed just that. Trailing 47-43 heading into the third quarter, Team USA was struggling pull away as Australia’s Liz Cambage and Lauren Jackson continued to produce in the post. Australia shot 60.6 percent from the field in the first half and played so well that Lynx teammate Candice Wiggins, while watching from home, thought U.S. could end up losing the game.
[Related Content: LynxBasketball.com editor Mark Remme says Minnesota's basketball teams were well-represented in London, more so than any other U.S. professional hoops market.]
But with Moore, Whalen and Augustus on the floor, things began to change. The trio helped the U.S. buckle down defensively while also providing energy and an offensive spark. They finished the game with a combined 23 points, and their chemistry together helped the U.S. go on a 43-26 run to end the game in an 86-73 victory.
“We tried to do our thing,” Whalen said. “Play hard together. We came in those first few games and we were a part of the second group. We wanted to make energy offensively and defensively and just make plays. You could see our connection out there from playing together for a couple years, and I think it really helped us.”
The trio enjoyed time away from the court together during their down time, which also helped them develop their chemistry even further while getting to take in some of the competitions as fans, not athletes. They met with U.S. track and field star Allyson Felix, hung out with Sonja Richards Ross and got a chance to see beach volleyball legends Kari Walsh Jennings and Misty May-Treanor.
Then, when they got back on the court, they showed the world what Lynx fans have enjoyed for the past two years. Moore said having all three play together on the biggest international stage will only help the Lynx popularity worldwide.
“The more people see us, the more they will fall in love with us,” Moore said. “It’s rewarding to hear someone say, ‘I never watched basketball or women’s basketball, but when I saw you guys, I was hooked.’ It makes us feel so good.”
Now the focus returns back to the WNBA. The three rejoined their Lynx teammates on Wednesday, wasting no time jumping back into 5-on-5 drills against the male practice squad and re-learning little parts of the Lynx’s offensive and defensive sets they haven’t run in about a month. Even thought teammate Erin Thorn said a lot of Team USA’s sets were similar to what the Lynx use, Augustus said it took a few minutes to transition back to coach Cheryl Reeve’s system.
“We felt the gap,” she said, laughing. “We had to get back into town and we said, ‘Can we go back over this?’ Trying to transition back. We got a warm welcoming from the coaches and everyone. It was refreshing to get back here and look forward to everything we have going on in this second half of the season.”
The mission still hasn’t changed in Minnesota: The Lynx still fully intend on repeating as WNBA champions. But when they resume play Friday against the Washington Mystics at Target Center, the team will no longer have one Gold Medalist.
They’ll have three, and that trio is brining a strong bond back from London.
“We realize what we have,” Moore said. “The coaching staff does a great job of making sure we have fun. We enjoy every day. There won’t be a problem of not getting excited. We’re going to be excited.”
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