Katie Smith's Records Are Gone, But Respect Still There At Target Center
Web Editorial Associate
Amidst an abundance of record-breaking performances this season, two Lynx franchise records fell when Seimone Augustus became the team's all-time leading scorer and Lindsay Whalen set a new all-time assists record.
Both were previously held by Katie Smith, who played for Minnesota her first six seasons in the league (1999-2004) and will return to Target Center tonight with the Seattle Storm to open the 2012 Western Conference Semifinals against the Lynx.
"It's fun, it's always good to come back to Minneapolis and be here, see the fans and a lot of people I obviously knew for quite a few years," Smith said.
Among them count Whalen and Augustus, who said they've taken a lot away from Smith's game over her 14 years in the league. For Whalen growing up in Minnesota, Smith was a role model.
"She had some great years here and was one of the players you'd come to watch when I was in high school," Whalen said. "And from a Big Ten perspective too, she went to Ohio State. I've always liked her game, and I've looked up to her as a person. Having her come in here [tonight], I know she'll be excited and ready to play.”
Augustus spoke to Smith's mental toughness as a player and her focus on the fundamentals, and Whalen noted the physicality she brings to the game.
"When I think of her, I think of a tough player, a lot of grit,” Whalen said. “She goes to work every day. She's always done that, and I think that's been a part of her success throughout her career."
That toughness helped Smith to an 18.1 points per game average over her six years in Minnesota, including a career-high 23.1 in 2001. She also posted her career-high rebounding season in Minnesota with 4.1 rebounds per game in 2003.
"It's evident what she did in her time here," Augustus said. "She put a stamp on this organization as far as being a leader, a great scorer and just a great captain as far as trying to help her team be successful."
Smith also had nothing but praise for the two Lynx guards, especially Augustus, who she got to know during their time together on the 2008 U.S. Women’s National Team.
"'Mone's just a great person," Smith said. "Real low-key, obviously a great basketball player, but just somebody who I enjoy being around. She's fun, she's just unassuming. You'd never know that she's done what she's done."
Augustus said that although the Lynx struggled through much of Smith's time in Minnesota, the hard work she put in helped lay the groundwork for future Lynx teams. She was almost able to pick up where Smith left off, with Smith leaving the team after the 2004 season and Augustus coming on in 2006.
"I know they weren't as successful as she would have liked to have been, but a lot of what we're doing now, she kind of helped build this foundation for us," she said.
As far as breaking her records, Smith offered her congratulations.
"Obviously they've had a nice two years here, with Lindsay being back in Minnesota, 'Mone having the success she's had, and of course winning the championship," Smith said. "It's very cool. A lot of great things are happening for them individually and as a team."
Augustus and Whalen were simply honored.
"It's amazing just to be in the same category up there with someone of her stature who's accomplished so much in this league, not just with this team," said Augustus. "I'm proud to have been the one to break her record, and I'm quite sure we'll talk about it when we see each other [tonight]."
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