Thursday Practice Report
A rookie season brings a lot of change. New teammates, new league and sometimes even a new city.
Rookie guard Renee Montgomery returned to an old city with a new team Saturday as she played her first game in Connecticut as a member of the opposing squad.
Of all the changes the rookie has had to endure, being a visitor against Connecticut might have been the weirdest.
"It was weird being a visitor, but it was great to be home," said Montgomery, who scored 18 points and had four assists in the Lynx's 98-94 loss. "The Connecticut fans were not on my side. They cheered for me a little bit, but they were ultimately Connecticut Sun fans. Not having Connecticut nation, UConn nation behind me was weird."
Losing in Connecticut also might have been weird. Even more weird has been the up-and-down nature Minnesota's season has taken on.
Montgomery has gone from coming off the bench, to starting, to back to coming off the bench all in one season as the Lynx try to right the ship and re-establish their footing in the postseason. All the while, she has continued to be a steady presence averaging 9.1 points per game, fourth best among all rookies.
The rookie has not had problems adjusting to her ever-changing role. Montgomery said she has just tried to keep her body ready and healthy for whatever challenge is presented to her this season.
Getting used to Minnesota's recent six-game slide has taken some adjusting too. Montgomery lost a total of 11 games in her four-year career at Connecticut. Against the stiffer competition of the WNBA, the Lynx have dropped 16 games so far this season. And, of course, the Huskies wrapped up a perfect 39-0 season on their way to a national championship in April before Montgomery was drafted into the WNBA with the fourth overall pick.
The trick with dealing with all the losing is to stay positive, and Montgomery said she feels she plays a role in keeping the team's spirits up.
"When you're on a losing streak and you're losing a lot of games, it's easy to point the finger and have a lot of animosity on the team or anything going on with the team," Montgomery said. "Just to stay positive is what I need to try to make sure the team does because I always have positive energy and I hope it can carry over."
The Lynx's struggles recently have been well-documented. And the one positive -- that the games are close and the team is still fighting hard to get back inside the playoff picture -- has been mentioned before.
Minnesota has re-worked its lineup in recent games to try and solve its slump, including moving Montgomery back to the bench and returning Kelly Miller to the starting lineup. It could be seen as an example of one of the small tweaks Montgomery said the team needs to finally return to the win column. She said the team has to learn how to finish and close games to reverse its recent slide.
The fact the team still shares fourth place with San Antonio really has given the team confidence and hope. All the team has to do is get it together and start winning to solidify its playoff positioning.
"The crazy thing about our team, it's not like we have a whole lot of major changes," Montgomery said. "Every team we've played, we've pretty much been in the game and in. We lose by five points or seven points, just depending it just changes. It's not like we're way out of the picture and we have to re-change our whole team. We just have to learn how to finish games. It's a lot of in-game situations we have to practice here and just focus at the end of the games. ... All of them have been close, so it's not like we are far away."
Renee Montgomery Audio
Renee Montgomery talks about her first trip to Connecticut as a visitor and what the team needs to do to right the ship.
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