Quinn Leads Club Team to Perfect Start
It's no secret that 2008 wasn’t the year that Noelle Quinn hoped it would be. Quinn came in to 2008, her second year as Minnesota's floor general, with heightened expectations — and for good reason. The former UCLA Bruin closed out her rookie season on a high note, starting the final 14 games, averaging 7.4 apg in that stretch, including a franchise-best 14 assists Aug. 19, 2007 vs. San Antonio.
In 2007, the 6-0 guard established herself as one of the best passers in the league. She thrived on finding teammates in the open floor, oftentimes with the flashy, no-look passes that were sure to get fans out of their seats. It seemed as if only bigger and better things would come from the talented point guard.
Due to another Lindsey Harding knee injury, Quinn came in to camp in 2008 with a clear path in her quest to retain the starting point guard position, the role that she had so much success with in 2007. The path seemed to be clear for Quinn to recapture her 2007 magic.
However, Quinn struggled in the team's opening few weeks, failing to recapture her late-season success of 2007. A season of promise and high expectations quickly gave way to one of disappointment and frustration. Quinn started the first 23 games before giving way to Lindsey Harding, who returned a month prior from the aforementioned knee injury. Quinn returned to the starting lineup for the final two games, but not at her familiar point guard position. Quinn finished 2008 averaging 2.5 apg, while shooting 39.8% from the floor, including a 31.3% mark from beyond the arc. While her percentages were up from 2007, Quinn knew she could do better.
Quinn signed on with Lithuania's TEO Vilnius of the Lithuania Women's Basketball League in the offseason, hoping to put her disappointing 2008 season behind her and restore her confidence. Through 10 games, it appears that she's done just that, leading her team to a perfect 10-0 start in league play, while refining her shooting touch.
In two games last week, Quinn helped Vilnius improve to 10-0 in LMKL play with a pair of victories. She registered a season-high 16 points (on 7-for-10 shooting) and two assists in a 76-31 win at Aistes Kaunas on Dec. 19, then chipped in nine points, four rebounds and two steals as Vilnius beat Laisve Kaunas 90-55 the following night. For the season, Quinn is averaging 6.5 ppg, 2.9 rpg and 1.9 apg in 17.6 mpg, while shooting 53.7% (22-41) from the floor. While most of Quinn's stats don't jump out at you, her success rate from the floor remains a big reason why her club is the only undefeated team in the league.
Quinn's Aistes Kaunas club also competes in EuroLeague play, where Quinn has taken her game to a higher level. Through ten games, Quinn's team sits at 5-5, while Quinn holds averages of 9.5 ppg, 3.8 rpg and 1.3 apg in 25.7 mpg. Quinn ranks 12th in the league in three-point shooting, connecting on 45% (9-of-20) of her attempts. In a Nov. 12 win over Broker Kosice, Quinn connected on five-of-seven three-point shots for a season-high 18 points. In that game, Stefan Svitek, head coach for Broker Kosic, had this to say about Quinn. "The shooting of Noelle Quinn surprised us."
While Quinn's elevated shooting numbers overseas may have come as a surprise to some, the Lynx hope it can become a trend and restore Quinn's confidence heading into 2009. Although 2008 wasn't the year the Lynx had hoped for Quinn, the fact remains that she's one of the most talented distributors in the league. Add that innate passing ability to an improving jump shot, and the Lynx just may have the 2007 version of Quinn back up and running come 2009.
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