Net Gain From a Loss

"This injury is going to change her life in many ways. As a player, she's going to have a different drive that she's never felt, because she's fighting herself, and not just another basketball player now. So within that drive, I think this injury is going to make her stronger than she's ever been before because she gains that mentality."
- Lynx assistant coach Teresa Edwards on Lindsey Harding

When you read this headline last week: "Lindsey Harding Tears ACL," there was only one immediate reaction to the news.

This stinks.

And, surely, it does. Injuries are the last thing anyone wants to see in the sports world, and we're not disputing that fact. But take a little time to think it through, and you may start to come upon the reasons why something positive can result from the injury. If you haven't had the time to do so, don't worry about it. We have.

But along the lines of that opening quote from coach T, take a peek at our five reasons why Lindsey Harding's injury will prove to be a net gain for the Lynx:

Reason No. 1: She's Lindsey Harding:
It didn't take long for anyone in Minnesota to realize that Harding is among the most competitive, hardest working and most determined basketball players in the WNBA. What does that mean in this situation? She'll be extremely aggressive with her rehabilitation, and come back stronger than ever. This is not even up for debate. Just ask her...

"It is just going to be another test. True character is built through adversity, and that is exactly what I am going to do. I am going to come back stronger just like I came back from everything else."

Reason No. 2: Coach Z said so:
Lynx head coach Don Zierden has had an extremely tough job this year getting the league's youngest team to compete each and every night through what have been tough times in terms of wins and losses. But as a credit to him and his staff, his players have not once given up or conceded even one game. Just as Lindsey fought on the basketball floor, he knows she'll fight through her rehab:

"The positives are that Lindsey is a fighter and she'll come back good from her surgery, and she'll be ready to go at training camp. We think that she's going to be a very, very good player for years to come in this league. If I had to do it all over again, I still would have taken her with the number one overall pick, because we think we've got the point guard of the future."

Reason No. 3: Noelle Quinn gets much-needed minutes to develop:
Because Harding was so game ready, and so effective on the floor, Quinn simply wasn't getting the minutes. But Q does some things, particularly with her court vision and passing, that make you wish you had a TIVO remote in your hand. In the five games she's started in Harding's absence, we're starting to see her true skills come out. For example, at Phoenix on Sunday, July 22, Q dished out nine assists and had ZERO turnovers, and her turnover to assist ratio has been nearly three to one. Here's what she had to say about Lindsey and about the rest of the season:

"It's a big loss -- she's a big part of our team. Lindsey brings a lot of leadership and energy, and for me as a backup point guard, just watching the stuff that she did on the floor was helpful for me to know what to do when I get out there. But it's also good for me to get to get the game experience, because in practice I can do all of these things, but it doesn't mean that I can't do it in a game. For me, being a rookie -- I've had this discussion with my mom -- I just need a chance to get in there and figure out my game on this new level. You don't want to have an injury like Lindsey's, but it's a blessing in disguise for me."

Reason No. 4: More Minutes for Shay:
While Shay doesn't play the same position as Harding, the fact that the NCAA's Player of the Year won't be on the floor means that Noelle will ... which means that someone needs to get more minutes off the bench. After Wednesday's loss to Phoenix, Zierden talked about how he was pleased with the play of both Noelle and Shay, and how we'll see them getting more and more minutes going forward. Murphy has a great motor and is a great athlete, and will make a lot of positive things happen for Minnesota as she continues to work out the rookie kinks. So with Q, Shay and Harding all having seen significant playing time this season, good things could be on the horizon.

Reason No. 5: Vengeance:
Back to Harding for a second ... Lindsey has a mean streak on the basketball floor. She thinks she should get the WNBA's Rookie of the Year award. She led all rookies in points (11.7) and assists (3.9) and was second in rebounding (4.4) and third in steals. Here's what she had to say:

"Yes I should get it. It's not like I wasn't playing well and the coach was sitting me out. I was playing well and I got hurt, and that was out of anyone's control. Now, if there is a rookie who comes out and completely beats everything that I have done to this point, then yes they deserve to win the Rookie of the Year award, but you don't know what I would have done with a full season. But if I am still first in scoring and at or near the top in some of the other categories, then yes, I really should get it. I really feel it would be unfair."

Not many athletes are this willing to be that honest, and it shows how determined and competitive Lindsey is. And if she doesn't get the R.O.Y. award ... watch out in 2008. Well, watch out anyway, but she's not someone whose fire you need to fuel any further.

So, the main point here is that the Lynx may suffer in the short term in terms of wins and losses, but ultimately they can benefit from Lindsey's injury as other players get much needed minutes. That said, it'd be one thing if Harding came back a different player, but because of who she is, she'll most certainly be back stronger.

And the Lynx will be better for it. So, don't worry Lynx fans. Things will be looking up before you know it.