Every time Lindsay Whalen touched the ball, every time she took a shot, the crowd nearly blew the roof off at Williams Arena during the WNBA Finals.
That’s how big Whalen’s legacy is with the Gophers, who represents nothing but winning and championships as displayed that night in October when she hoisted the championship trophy for the Lynx, playing on her college’s home floor.
Now Whalen is back – as the Gophers’ women’s basketball coach. She’s come back home to take over a program that advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament last year but will undoubtedly be elevated by Whalen’s star power. Whalen was the point guard on the Minnesota team that went to the Final Four in 2004.
But is that enough?
Whalen has never been a head coach. She’ll split her time initially also playing for the Lynx. She’ll shoulder out-of-this-world expectations as the face of the program she helped build.
The question is: Did the Gophers make the right move in hiring Whalen, a three-time All America and the program's all-time leading scorer, despite her lack of coaching experience?
Does her magnetism, WNBA accomplishments – which are significant – and her status in the history of the program outweigh what she lacks in the level of coaching expertise needed to carry this program in the competitive Big Ten?