Our own Adrienne Thomas recently sat down with Minnesota star point guard Lindsay Whalen. Whalen spoke about this upcoming season, her affection for the state of Minnesota and married life with her husband, Ben.
Swish Appeal: What’s the primary focus of the team this year in training camp?
Lindsay Whalen: “I’m always trying to be a really good leader. I know coach’s (Cheryl Reeve) expectations, one of the jobs of a point guard is to be a leader on the floor. As far as myself, just getting my body feeling good, getting into game shape, and working through training camp, have to stay aggressive and work hard. Those are the main things I try to work on every day.”
SA: How did it feel to help bring Turkey to their first ever finals appearance?
LW: “It was a lot of fun. It was the first time that club had made the Turkish league finals. It was a fantastic ending. I went there not really knowing my expectations of how it would go, but we came together as I learned my role and fit into the team. I came halfway through the season, so at first, you’re just trying to fit in. We won a game in the finals, which was cool; (however) we didn’t win [the whole thing], which was disappointing. But all-in-all, it was a really successful season over there.”
SA: With Maya Moore re-signing with the Lynx, how do you feel that’s going to contribute to the team overall?
LW: “I think we will be together for a lot more years, working hard and playing together. We have that core [Seimone Augustus, myself and Maya] along with Asjha (Jones) and some up-and-coming rookies. It wasn’t really a surprise to any of us, but again it’s just a sign that we are committed to the organization and they are committed to us.”
SA: You’re currently playing on a team with two of your Olympic teammates in Maya and Seimone, is there a chemistry there having that type of shared experience?
LW: “Absolutely. I feel like us even at the World Championships, winning that medal, and the three of us having a big contribution to that was a lot of fun, and continues to gives us that familiarity with each other that are able to carry over to the Lynx.”
SA: How do you continue to develop as a player at the highest level after having been in the sport for so long?
LW: “There are always challenges with that. Coach is always challenging us to be better, and I’m at the point in my career now, where I want to be a really good veteran and leader like I had when I was a younger player starting out. You always see yourself being that one day, and I think leaving that mark on the organization is what in the end really counts.”
SA: The Lynx are favored to win the championship this year, what are your thoughts on that?
LW: “Any season we’ve gone into since 2011, we like our chances. We know we have a great team, we’ve been there before and we’ve had our ups and downs. Throughout it all though, we’ve always stayed the course and done what we could for each other.
“It’s a long ways away, and that’s what you’re working towards, but that’s what makes teams great. We take it day-by-day, week-by-week, game-by-game, and just break it down each game. It sounds simple but that’s what life is about to, you have to enjoy the process.”
SA: You signed a 3-year contract extension in 2013, are there currently any talks for renewing your contract with the Lynx beyond that 3-year period?
LW: “Not really. I take it year by year, I’m here and I’m enjoying it. This is the only place I want to be, so I really just enjoy every season, and continue to focus on trying to get better and improve. All you can do is focus on your career, at this point in time, and do it to the best of your abilities.”
SA: You are synonymous with Minnesota women’s basketball in every aspect, from college to WNBA, you’ve helped bring national attention to the state. Can you describe how you’ve seen women’s basketball in the state of Minnesota change, since your collegiate days, and during your professional tenure?
LW: “It’s been interesting. When I started at University of Minnesota 15 years ago, it was kind of rocky, but then we made it to the Sweet Sixteen and then the Final Four; even everything we’ve been able to do with the Lynx, I feel like we’ve made an impact on the state and the people. This state loves winners, I’m from here, so I know that firsthand, and I’m just trying to do my part.
“I’ve been given the opportunity to continue playing for the state of Minnesota in a professional capacity, and I never want to take that for granted. And [I want to] continue to be the best that I can be, not only for ourselves, but for the state and for our fans. Things have continued to progress, and it’s cool to be apart of it and leave your mark.”
SA: Do you have any advice for Gopher Amanda Zahui B. as she starts her pro career with the Tulsa Shock?
LW: “First and foremost, be yourself. Do what got your there, there’s only so many players in the WNBA so it’s a highly coveted job and not many people get to do it. There’s a reason you got drafted, and there’s a reason you’re here, so continue to be good at what you’re good at and be yourself.
“Also being a good teammate, that goes a long way. You can make it a long way in this league and in the world if you’re good to others and you make plays for other people and you have your teammate’s back.”
SA: You married your husband Ben in 2007, how’s married life?
LW: “It’s been great. He was able to come over to Turkey with me for a couple of months so that was nice. We love being home together and by our families. During the season, it’s very demanding so times like now, it’s nice because we get to just hang out together. When we have off time, we like to go on trips, play golf and play tennis. This year will be eight years and it’s been great!”
SA: Does Ben ever critique your game?
LW: “No, I mean we talk about it. It’s nice, because he was an athlete himself, so he gets the team aspect of it. He knows coach’s system, when we are playing well and when we could have done better, but he’s always very positive and uplifting. He loves coming to the games, he has his own seat he sits in, and has his own routine for the games just like a player.”
SA: What is your favorite thing to do that isn’t basketball related?
LW: “Just hanging out and watching movies. After a hard practice or game, you really have to get your body feeling good, so keeping a low profile and spending time with Ben.”