Lynx Set To Battle Familiar Face
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There will be seven players on the court Friday night in Tulsa who were a part of the 2011 Championship Minnesota Lynx. One won't be wearing a Lynx jersey, though.
Candice Wiggins spent her first five seasons in a Lynx uniform after being drafted with the No. 3 pick in 2008.
When the Shock host the Lynx at 6:00 p.m. on Friday night, Wiggins won't be on the visitor's bench.
During the offseason, Wiggins was shipped to Tulsa in a three-team deal that gave the Lynx center Janel McCarville.
The player fans know as "Ice" made her mark in Lynx history from the very beginning.
Wiggins is fifth in team history with 1,460 career points, second in 3-pointers made (207), fifth in free throws made (371), third in free throw percentage (.847) and fifth in assists (312). She was a no-brainer to make Lynxbasketball.com's Top-15 in 15 Years list.
Her best season with the Lynx came during her rookie campaign, when she scored 15.7 points to go along with three assists and three rebounds per game on her way to winning the WNBA Sixth Woman of the Year Award. She missed the majority of the 2010 season after rupturing her Achilles tendon with just eight seconds remaining in a game against the New York Liberty.
Her role was decreased in 2011 after the team acquired Lindsay Whalen via trade. Wiggins averaged six points per game and shot 38.6 percent from the 3-point line during the team's historic championship run.
"Candice was a big part of the organization," said Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve. "All those years she was here with the exception my first year when she was injured... She was a player that her teammates liked playing with. She was an energy player. We liked that and obviously our fans did as well."
Did the fans ever like that. Wiggins was a fan favorite and took part in many community events. Wiggins has been an advocate for AIDs after since her dad died of the disease when she was three-years old. In July 2012, Wiggins won the WNBA Cares Community Assist Award for the second time in her career. The first came in 2008 after continuing her work with "Greater Than AIDS."
She was also a leader and a sparkplug in the locker room.
"(Candice) is very animated," said Lynx forward Dev Peters. "Wiggs is just a fun person. It was fun playing with her last year."
Peters played only one year with Wiggins, but the former Stanford guard made an impression with Peters during her 2012 rookie season.
"Candice is just a great spirit. She has a lot of energy, you know, she’s going to bring it every game and every day in practice," Peters said. "She just brightens everybody’s day up with all her energy, she’s really bouncy and bubbly and she’s nice energy to be around and play with."
The guard is a starter again and Wiggins has seen her minutes increase to 29 per game this season with Tulsa. She is averaging seven points per game. Her best game as a member of the Shock came on June 7 when she scored 13 points.
One of the reasons why Wiggins was traded was because of the team's confidence and the development of Monica Wright. Reeve believed she was ready to play the point guard position and with the retirement of Taj McWilliams-Franklin, the Lynx knew they would have to give up a guard to get a talented center.
Wright is extremely excited to see Wiggins again, as they were teammates for three seasons, running guard drills together and becoming the top-two players off the bench for the Lynx during the 2011 and 2012 seasons.
"Obviously it will be great to see Candice," Wright said. "I miss her so much."
The interesting dynamic in situations like this, though, is that the Lynx know how dangerous Wiggins can be as a player, and Wiggins knows many of the things the Lynx will try to do.
"We know from playing with her what she does well and defensively pretty feisty and obviously offensively, if you don't defend the three, and even though the percentages don't say it right now, she can do that," Reeve said. "She's a player that Tulsa is heavily depending on to perform."
Wiggins is 36 percent lifetime from behind the 3-point line, so it's likely that her percentage will increase a few points over the course of the season. She's currently at 32 percent.
There will likely be smiles before the game and maybe a dinner with Wiggins after, but for those 40 minutes on the court, her old teammates will have to forget that she grew up in a Minnesota jersey and recognize she's wearing different colors now.
Wiggins has moved on to a next step in her career. And the Lynx wish her all the best. Just not on Friday night.
"It's been great just to see how Wiggins has come along," said Lynx shooting guard Seimone Augustus, who was her teammate from 2008-2012. "Being a part of a Tulsa Shock team, she's a big part of what they are doing there. Being able to reunite with her and catching up with her will be awesome. But as far as the competitive nature goes, it's going to be tough. She's a tough cookie and we're looking forward to the challenge."
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