'Back to Work' for Lynx OlympiansAugust 18, 2012
After five weeks off for the Olympic break, the Minnesota Lynx are heading back to work to try to finish the regular season and make their way back into playoff contention and another run to the WNBA Finals.
A key component to the team’s success in the second half will be the three players that played for USA Basketball in the London Olympic Games, guards Seimone Augustus and Lindsay Whalen along with forward Maya Moore.
Before they made their way back to practice, the team made the three Olympians available to local media for the player’s thoughts before they pack the Gold Medals back into their cases while they suit up in pursuit of another WNBA Championship ring.
The players all gave opening statements before answering questions and posing for photos with their medals.
“Thanks to everyone for being here today and showing their support throughout the Olympics,” said Augustus, now a veteran of her second Olympiad. “It was great to be there with my teammates and to be a part of something as special as USA Basketball. We’re looking forward to a fun second half of the season.”
Whalen, a first-time Olympian, said, “Like Seimone said, it was a great month, lots of hard work. A lot of hours in the gym went into that for everyone. We had a lot of fun, we tried to enjoy every moment, tried to put everything into the games. We all got to do it together, and I feel like we brought a lot the team. We brought our strengths and what we were good at. We won the gold medal and now we’re thrilled to be back and to get things going with the WNBA season here.”
Moore, also a first-time Olympian and the youngest member of the team, said, “I tried to do a lot of watching and observing. I’d stop and think about how blessed I was to be on this team. Stop and look at the roster. It’s pretty ridiculous the talent on this team. The veterans and captains that we had - Diana [Taurasi], Sue [Bird] and Tamika [Catchings] – it was fun to play with them.”
When asked about how it felt to win the gold medal, Whalen, known for her dry humor, quipped, “I couldn’t believe how actually heavy the medal was in terms of the actual medal…how heavy it was. It’s very heavy.”
All fun aside, Moore expressed the pride the three veterans have about their role with USA Basketball. “Part of the reason it felt so good was how we played. For the longest time, I’ve had really great coaches who emphasized how you play, not the scoreboard. First you want to get the win, but to get it the best way possible is always the goal. I felt really proud of the way we played and the group I was able to do it with. I was proud to be a part of that.”
But now that the trip to London is complete, it is time to focus on their next assignment.
“You can’t compare anything to the Olympics because it’s a once-in-a-lifetime [thing]. As a professional league, there’s nothing more satisfying than a WNBA championship,” said Moore. “To win game-by-game and go through this as a team is very satisfying. We look forward to every game and every practice together. It’s a quick turnaround and we have do have to stay mentally, emotionally and physically ready, but we realize what we have. There won’t be a problem of not getting excited. We’re going to be excited. The fans are excited.”
Even with that excitement, there is a transition the players have to make to go from the Olympic routine back to the Minnesota Lynx routine.
“We felt the gap. We had to get back into town and we said, ‘can we go back over this?’” said Augustus. “Trying to transition back. We got a warm welcoming from the coaches and everyone. It was refreshing to get back here and look forward to everything we have going on in this second half of the season.”
Said Moore, “It’s a little bit of an adjustment. Getting into the rhythm of our offense, different little concepts we do. I don’t know from the outside if you’re really aware of all the little details in what we do, but it’s just a matter of remembering like how we front the post, or how to cut or set up the timing of a certain play. Some of those things, we’ll have to work out the kinks as a team. Once the whistle blows, it’s time to play. It’s just basketball. There shouldn’t be that much of a transition.”
Whalen knows the transition back to Lynx basketball won’t be difficult for those three. “Where we’re at in our seasons and careers, you have to take care of your body. Eating right, getting rest, treatment, stretching, all those things come into play during this time. We’ve done it for a lot of years now, so it’s something we understand that we need to do to play at a high level,” she said.
Moore knows that the added exposure from the Olympic run is going to be beneficial to the league.
“It’s going to help. The more people see us, the more they will fall in love with us. It’s rewarding to hear someone say, ‘I never watched basketball or women’s basketball, but when I saw you guys, I was hooked.’ It makes us feel so good,” she said. “They go and tell people and bring their family. The cool thing about the WNBA is that it’s here in the U.S. and our family and friends can see us play. Having that exposure is huge. We really do have a special group, and the WNBA is on a whole another level. The world can see the awesome things happening in Minneapolis.”