Seimone Augustus: Working Her Way Back

Seimone Augustus

Seimone Augustus is walking. Not jumping, not cutting through the lane, slashing past defenders or shooting over opponents. But walking... slowly. It's still an odd sight from one of the top players in the WNBA.

After a season-ending ACL injury, Augustus is mostly working on regaining strength in her leg again. She has been working on a bike and has started to stretch and work extension exercises into her routine. She said she hopes she can start running again soon. But the toughest part for her is not playing and not being able to be out there to help her teammates.

"This is torture," Augustus said. "I'm definitely learning patience from this experience. You can't run, you can't jump for three months. And then I have to sit here and watch the ladies going through their stuff right now. And it's like 'man I wish I could be out there to help them.' Maybe open (Candice) Wiggins up for a shot or open Roneeka (Hodges) up, or free up Charde (Houston). You just can't. I want to be out there so bad. I came here early today and was trying to shoot some jumpers."

It is something the fourth-year pro is not quite used to doing. But ever since tearing the ACL in her left knee early in the season, she has been working to recover while still being there for her teammates. Augustus is usually sitting behind the Lynx bench showing her support for her teammates. But her support and involvement with the team goes further than cheering on her teammates from the stands at games.

Augustus said she talks to players at halftime and at practice pointing out things they may not have seen while on the court but she could see from the bench, gaining more respect for the work of the coaching staff in the process. She said she is thankful the team has worked to keep her involved with the team. She is glad she has not been left out.

How her presence could have impacted the season is the big unknown as the team fights for a playoff berth and Augustus fights to get back from her injury.

But now Augustus has a more tangible goal to achieve with her recovery. She was one of eight players named to the USA roster for the 2009-12 Olympic cycle Monday. Along with some of the top players in the league -- including Sue Bird, Tamika Catchings, Diana Taurasi and Candace Parker -- she will be a member of Team USA as they hope to defend their Olympic gold medal. That should set her up to compete in the 2010 FIBA World Championship in the Czech Republic in September of 2010.

Team USA coach Geno Auriemma talked to her after the injury and tried to give her early motivation to be ready for the national team's competition. That goal became solidified with the official announcement Monday. She has to come back and be ready to play at a high level in approximately one year. There will be plenty of rehab time, playing time in Europe and with the Lynx and practice time to get there.

"Coach Geno gave me that motivation way back then, but this kind of puts a damper on it," Augustus said. "Like you really do need to push yourself to get back and not just get back and be average. You've got to be above average and better than what you were before. I'm going to try to come back out and do what I can for the team."

Augustus has had a successful career playing for the national team. She has captured five gold medals playing for Team USA and was part of the Gold Medal-winning team at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. She averaged 7.9 points per game on 46.6 percent shooting in 17.8 minutes per game during the gold-medal run last summer.

With the injury this year, it might be easy to forget what kind of player Augustus truly is. She averaged 21.0 points per game and 4.2 rebounds per game in six games and looked to be an early favorite for the MVP as the Lynx streaked to the top of the Western Conference before her injury.

It is clear Augustus is still considered one of the top players in the world. But that is not enough to achieve her own and the team's goals.

There is still a long way to go for Augustus to reach a full recovery and plenty of basketball to play to get her back to an elite playing level. But she is getting through the process and she said she feels like she still has something to prove.

"It's never easy with USA Basketball," Augustus said. "I still feel like I have something to prove. Even though you're considered on the team, you still have to come out and play like that Olympian and play like the elite player. It's still a lot pressure even though you may not have to go through that training session that most other players have to do to make the team."

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