Whalen Has High Hopes for Sun
In the midst of her fifth season in the WNBA, Connecticut Sun guard Lindsay Whalen has already had a formidable pro career. An All-Star in 2006, Whalen has helped the Sun to two WNBA Finals (2004 and 2005) and is widely considered one of the league's top point guards.
But with the offseason trade of Katie Douglas and Nykesha Sales and Margo Dydek sitting out the season, Whalen has been forced to take over in Connecticut, and she has truly taken her game to a new level. Posting career highs in scoring, rebounding, assists, shooting percentage and three-point percentage, Whalen has been the driving force behind the Sun's 16-10 mark, which puts them atop the Eastern Conference.
WNBA.com spoke recently with Whalen about her team's success this season and her hopes for bringing the Sun into the playoffs on a positive note.
WNBA.com: What do you think is most responsible for you guys coming together so quickly and having so much early success especially with all of the rookies and new players on your roster?
Whalen: "I think a lot of it lies with Coach T. He's been amazing. And the veteran players and captains on the team. It's been a good run for us. The rookies have come in and played well and the new players have gotten a good understanding -- quickly -- of what we're trying to do. But it starts at the top, and we've all seen his leadership and tried to play as hard as we can to live up to it."
WNBA.com: What do you think about all of the rookies who have been
contributing so much to your team so far this season?
Whalen: "The rookies have been great. Amber (Holt) has been there every night. And it's tough coming in as a rookie and starting, but she's done it and she's done great. Sandrine (Gruda), too, is starting to put it together and had a couple of terrific back-to-back games late in July. Also, Ketia (Swanier), Kerri (Gardin), Jolene (Anderson) and even Danielle (Page) who hasn't played yet she's been great in practice. Everyone's really stepped up at different times during the season. As a rookie, you never know quite what to expect. You know there will be ups and downs, but with all of them here together, they've fed off each other and helped each other in lots of ways and it always seems like one of them is at her best."
WNBA.com: What about Asjha stepping up her game this year as well? She's been around the league for a while, but became an all-star for the first time last season. This year, though, she's continued to be a force down low for you guys.
Whalen: "Having played with Asjha for a while, I know what amazing talent she has and what a great player she is. I've seen this kind of play day in and day out now for five years, so it's nothing new to me. But she's emerged in a new way over the last two years and really kicked it up another notch. It's a real credit to her in being able to elevate her game and she's been a huge part of our success this season."
WNBA.com: The East is super tight right now but you guys are on top. What do you have to do over the last couple of weeks of the regular season to stay on top and be in good shape heading into the playoffs?
Whalen: "After the break, we play three games in four nights. So it's like, BAM, we're right back out on the road. And we're gonna have to be ready to go from the start. We need to carry the momentum from the last three games before the break and really put that to work against Indiana and Atlanta on the road and then back at home against Seattle on national TV on Sunday. So this first weekend is gonna be huge for us.
"After that, we just have to stay focused. We know it's gonna be tight with so many teams so close together. There are three teams within a half game of each other, so we're all virtually tied with some extra games here and there. Tiebreakers could even come into play, which is crazy too because we own the tiebreaker over New York, but Detroit owns it over us. So it's probably gonna come down to those last couple of games probably even the last weekend. We don't play either of those teams anymore, but it's going to be interesting to follow along and see how they do.
"But obviously all we can really focus on is ourselves. And these first three games in four nights are going to be really crucial for us."