Whalen Returns To Lynx Camp

Mark Remme
Lynx Editor/Writer

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Lynx guard Lindsay Whalen spent portions of her time overseas this winter squaring off against faces she knows all too well. Whalen, who played for Dynamo Moscow, faced fellow Minnesota teammates and All-Stars Seimone Augustus and Rebekkah Brunson on the rival Dynamo Kursk squad in Russia.

And although Whalen and Augustus will not play tonight in Minnesota’s preseason opener against Jayco Australian Opals—neither will Brunson, who has not returned yet—simply being on the court together in the same Lynx gear was a nice, refreshing step in the right direction during this morning’s shootaround.

“It’s great to be back, and I was just playing against Mone and Brunson for the last two weeks in Russia,” Whalen said. “So I’m like it’s nice to be on the same five as Mone here today, and it’s nice to be playing with them than against them.”

Whalen, Augustus and Janel McCarville were all present and involved in Monday’s shootaround practice, and you could tell emotionally it was a mix of getting re-acquainted with their WNBA routines as well as a little eagerness to get back on the court with their teammates. Whalen spent extra time on her first day back shooting with assistant coach Shelley Patterson, and she also stopped to chat with members of the training staff and front office before heading off the court.

Even though she won’t be playing tonight, she’s even excited to simply be back inside Target Center for game action. That, and getting to see the new faces on the Training Camp roster compete.

“Just to be back in this building where we’ve had a lot of success over the last couple years, and I’m excited to see what we can do and just try to get acclimated to everything we do here on the team,” Whalen said. “That’s always one of the big things that you look for in these exhibition games and just kind of work hard, play hard. That’s kind of what we’ve done throughout the years here.”

Whalen is coming off one of the best WNBA seasons of her career. She had a career-high 14.9 points per game to go along with 5.9 assists and 4.4 boards per night. She shot 48.6 percent from the field and got to the line 138 times—her highest season total since 2010.

She was an All-Star selection in July, and most importantly she helped lead the Lynx to their second title in three years.

So at this stage in her career, she said there are two main objectives for her while playing overseas outside of winning and competing: improving the nuances of her game and staying in top shape.

She said this year in Russia she was able to continue working on her mid-range and outside shooting, fighting through pick-and-rolls defensively as well as guarding the ball hard.

“Honestly the biggest thing, knowing balance like when do you put in extra work, when do you take rest? That’s the biggest thing,” she said. “...You get into the league more and when you get older it’s making sure you stay in shape and take care of your body.”

This winter, Whalen said became closer friends with fellow WNBA standouts Tina Charles and Kristi Toliver, both of whom played for Dynamo Moscow, as well as Ana Dabovic of Serbia. That group won the Eurocup title this winter while placing fourth in their Russian League standings.

Now, she’s setting her sights on continuing the Lynx’s success. And she’s happy to have those familiar faces back on her side.

As those familiar faces begin returning and putting on the Lynx practice uniforms, the reality of their repeat championship attempt is beginning to set in.

“We took everything last year one game at a time, one step at a time,” Whalen said. “Just worked on getting the day-to-day, the next thing, the next opportunity, the next thing in front of you. In this league, if you worry too much about other things, you’re going to take energy away from the game. Just working on that, having the same mindset, attitude, approach.”

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