Whalen Reacts to USA Basketball Announcement
Listen to audio of Whalen's conference call
Whalen's Opening Statement: "Yeah, I'm obviously really excited about being named (to the team) today, and the opportunity it gives me to be able to continue to play with USA Basketball. Hopefully I'll make the teams - first the World Championship Team next fall and then beyond that. It's a great group of players, and Coach Auriemma is a great coach and USA Basketball has always been a great organization to work with and be a part of. I'm happy to be continuing on and to be able to make the 20-player roster. We'll continue to go from there.
Question: You've had a whirlwind last two months, being traded to your hometown team and today, being announced to Team USA. Talk about all these unexpected happenings this offseason...
Whalen: "It has been. This offseason has been a lot of good things; a lot of positives. It's been a great offseason. Obviously I'm playing in Europe, so I guess technically not an offseason. It's been a great few months. With today's announcement and a few months ago, joining the Lynx; there have been a lot of positives. I'm getting real excited for this summer season. I'm going to play well and go to the USA camps as long as I can make it and continue to help there and hopefully make the final USA team."
Question: I think there are now three Lynx players that are in the USA camp if I'm not mistaken. Are you guys setting up for some world domination? Any reason why we shouldn't expect the Lynx to be really competitive this season if everyone stays healthy?
Whalen: "No, I think there are some high expectations coming into the season, and I think that's the way the players want it. It's good to have high expectations and to have pressure. To compete at a high level every day in practice is only going to make everyone on the team better. With Seimone and Candice making it as well; it's a tremendous honor for them. Obviously Seimone was a gold medalist the last go around, so she's been there before and knows what it's all about. Like you said, as long as everyone is healthy. I know everyone will come in with a good attitude and be ready to work and get better every day. I think the expectations will be high. As everyone is finishing up here in Europe, everyone is getting excited. Only two months to go until the WNBA season."
Question: With playing overseas, the WNBA season and then adding USA Basketball to the mix, do you worry at all about getting tired and breaking down?
Whalen: "It's an honor, and another chance to compete and make a team. Yeah, we play year-round, and everyone knows that going in. With playing in Europe and the WNBA, when you get selected to the USA team, that's going to be another commitment you have to make and you have to be ready for that. Part of making that commitment and being named to the group of players is learning and knowing how to take care of your body. Eating right, working out and staying in shape and doing all the rehab things you need to. Physical therapy and doing all the things you need to do throughout the year to continue to play at a high level. That's just something that is expected of you and that helps you go a long way. Prevention of injuries is really big and staying healthy and on top of your body is all part of that. Everyone has that on their mind when they make the team. It's another commitment but it's a great honor. Whoever gets in the position to make this team, that's part of the deal and everyone knows that."
Question: How has your training changed from when you were a freshman at the University of Minnesota?
Whalen: "Yeah, I think you learn as the years go on. You come in as a freshman in college and you know what you were able to do at the high school level and how you were able to excel. So as you advance, you have to understand that (being a collegiate athlete) means so much more detail has to be paid attention to lifting weights, footwork, agility, eating right and proper nutrition. I think over the years, working with great strength coaches and people that know how to get the best out of you (has helped a lot). Different people I've been able to work with and coaches, you just learn those things. And then after a couple of years in the league, having different injuries, you just really learn how to prevent them and how to try and take care. Obviously there are things you can't control and injuries are a part of the game, everyone knows that. I think over the years, learning from different people and working with professionals, you really understand what it takes."
Question: Can you run through a typical day of training, outside of basketball?
Whalen: "Well the offseason is pretty short so I'm usually playing. But lifting weights, shooting, getting in the gym. I guess I did have five weeks off last year, so I did work out quite a bit in Connecticut with Coach Thibault. We'd shoot, work on different things; ball-handling, lots of shooting for about two hours a day; lifting and cardio as well. In the offseason you're not putting as much time in the gym. But you're working in cardio and lifting... In-season is when you work on your basketball stuff; body and individual skills in the offseason."
Question: From USA Basketball, and the WNBA to the overseas game... Is there a stylistic difference? Is there something you can put your finger on that differentiates the type of basketball that is played at each level?
Whalen: "I think in the WNBA, I know we run a lot more plays. That's one thing that jumps out in my mind. Of course you have your fast break and your secondary fast break. I guess the half-court sets aren't being paid as much attention to detail to (overseas). Where as in Europe we only have 4-5 plays. It's hard to say the physicality or the rules (are different), depends on how each game is going. The WNBA is faster paced, and there are more timeouts in WNBA, with the media timeouts. In Europe, there are only timeouts when the team calls them. Sometimes you go a whole quarter without a timeout. There are little differences here or there; pretty similar overall."
Question: What are the crowds like overseas? Do they vary wildly from place to place or is there a consistent base that you see normally?
Whalen: "In EuroLeague there are good crowds. We're actually going to our big rival in the Czech Republic on Saturday. Their team name is Brno. We play them on Saturday and it will be pretty crazy in the town - a lot of drums and noise-makers. I actually almost got hit in the face with one last year because a fan got a little out of control and threw one on the court. It can be a little dangerous. I was running and heard something break behind me. I had just joined the play and there was a broken noisemaker on the floor. You know it depends... When we go to the smaller cities and towns in Europe, the place is packed because maybe there isn't a whole lot going on in the town that night; a couple thousand people. They are always into it. The constant noise and the beating of the drums, noisemakers and different chants. It's usually pretty common."
Question: After the season is over in Europe, how much time will you have to get back over here (to the States) and rest for training camp?
Whalen: "That will depend on the finals and how they go. Those start in mid-April, so probably a week or so. Pretty much back to back. The WNBA moved up the season for the World Championships. I think there was about three weeks, camp started a little bit later last year. This year is a little different. It will be a short amount of time."
Question: How many WNBA players are on your team, and how many play in your league?
Whalen: "Well, Charde Houston is here now. Kathryn Kraayeveld was here until January and she went home and Charde came here. Each team can have two Americans. There are usually a couple of WNBA players on each team, depending on if there's a foreigner. Each team can have two Americans. The team we play this weekend has Taj McWilliams-Franklin and DeWanna Bonner. All the EuroLeague teams have a couple of different WNBA players on their teams. We played Angel McCoughtry and Candice Dupree this year. Depends on the team, but pretty much every EuroLeague team has a couple of WNBA players."
Question:Have you had the chance to follow you alma-mater this year and what do you think of their season?
Whalen: "Yeah, yeah I have. I've been watching the games on Big Ten Network. I have to DVR them and watch them the next day because they're on during the middle of the night here. I've been able to keep track of the season. Early on in the Big Ten season they had a couple of tough losses, a couple of close games. Had a tough stretch, but the Big Ten Tournament is here. I think they play tomorrow. Hopefully they get off to a good start and make a run from there."
Question: When will Team USA get together? When is that first training session?
Whalen: "Nothing is quite set in stone yet I don't think. For sure next fall after the season, probably during the playoffs. People that don't advance will go the camp, kind of like the camp I was last year in Washington, D.C., which I couldn't play in. It was going on during the finals. There will be a camp then and it'll go from there. You know there's the All-Star game this year, too. There's going to be I think some training camp around that. Or at least the game will be focused on that. Haven't heard about this spring. We'll wait to see what will happen with the Final Four and the EuroLeague."
Question: What would it mean to you to make it on not only the Olympic team, but also the World Championship roster?
Whalen: "That'd be great. You look at the players that have been on all the Olympic teams and that have brought back gold medals... To be included on that roster would be a huge honor. Hopefully just keep playing well and keep getting named onto the teams and having the chance to compete for the teams and see what happens."
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