Day 5: Lynx Celebrate Whalen's Birthday, Seimone's Return

Mark Remme
Lynx Editor/Writer

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Lindsay Whalen sat out Thursday’s scrimmage to end practice, essentially to help her body rest from some of the bumps and bruises of camp and, as a byproduct, to help the coaching staff get a little extra time looking at some of the newer faces trying to land some of the uncertain spots on the final roster.

It wasn’t a birthday gift, however, for the standout point guard who turned 31 on Thursday. That would come later.

During the final moments of Thursday’s practice, when the team circles together at center court to chat about the day’s happenings and go over news and notes, members of the team’s training staff brought out two cakes—one for Whalen and another for Seimone Augustus, whose birthday was last week—to help get the birthday celebrations under way.

Whalen admitted time flies, but there’s no denying she still feels (and plays) like the same player who has spent the last nine years in the WNBA.

“I don’t really know what [31 years old] should feel like,” Whalen said. “I feel good. I feel like myself.”

When it comes to how she’s performing physically, Whalen’s looked sharp since arriving in Minnesota early from overseas and beginning her workouts with newcomer Janel McCarville prior to camp. Her legs look fresh, she’s got a quick step off the dribble and, despite sitting out on Thursday, she’s been able to stay on the court here in town working on some of the little nuances of her game that she otherwise might not be able to do while finishing up her international league commitments.

“I feel good, I feel like that time off really helped me recharge my batteries a little bit,” she said. “It was a bunch of years in a row of playing and what not, so now to have this little break this time out and to be around family, see friends, work out here on individual things, that has really been great as well. So I’m just trying to use that time as best I could and be ready for camp.”

Seimone Returns

Seimone Augustus was at practice for the first time on Thursday but was not in uniform. She went through the team’s routine preseason physical and attended the workout but sat on the sidelines, spending much of the scrimmage watching while sitting next to Whalen.

Augustus spent the winter in Russia for the second straight year playing for Sparta&K Moscow.

“It’s always great when you get one of your leaders, one of the best all-around players in the league,” Whalen said. “And she’s just such a great player and so talented, it’s great to have her back and great to see her.”

When she rejoins the team on Friday, it will mean all but one player has returned for camp. Rebekkah Brunson is scheduled to be back by Sunday at the latest. That means the Lynx will finally be able to piece together a semblance of their starting five, albeit the center position is still up in the air given Taj McWilliams-Franklin’s retirement. Reeve said there will be challenges in deciding who will make up the final roster spots at the conclusion of camp. That difficult decision will be complicated by having the starting five returning and taking minutes from some of the other invitees. Soon we’ll start seeing which newcomers are getting more minutes.

“We like what we see with who we’ve brought in, so making decisions on the final roster is going to be really challenging,” Reeve said. “We have a couple different directions we could go. Once we establish that, we can really start establishing roles. I like the competition, I like the talent. All of our work in the offseason is really paying off, so I think we have a really competitive team.”

Quick Hits

  • Janel McCarville got some time during Thursday’s scrimmage, but she also had some soreness and sat out along with Whalen for part of it. Jacki Gemelos has been sidelined with a sore quad throughout the week, and the goal for her is to rest up and get back on the court fulltime on Sunday.

  • New Wolves President of Basketball Operations Flip Saunders stopped down after practice on Thursday to meet with Cheryl Reeve and chat a little bit while players did their post-practice shooting routines. Assistant coach Jim Petersen, who was helping out with shooting drills, also stopped over to say hi. Petersen played for the University of Minnesota in the early 1980s when Saunders was a Gophers assistant coach.

  • For more news and notes on the team follow the Minnesota Lynx on Twitter.