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Janel McCarville, left, and Lindsay Whalen practiced drills together as Lynx teammates, Wednesday, April 24, 2013 at the Target Center's Lifetime Fitness practice facility in downtown Minneapolis, MN.

Elizabeth Flores, Dml - Star Tribune

Reunited: Whalen, McCarville talk about being teammates again

  • Article by: Kent Youngblood
  • Star Tribune
  • April 24, 2013 - 10:53 PM

On one play Lindsay Whalen dribbled from the top of the key, taking advantage of a jarring Janel McCarville pick. McCarville popped out, took Whalen’s pass, and hit the jumper.
High five.


Moments later: Another pick, but this time McCarville rolls to the basket, takes a bounce pass, and scores. High five, again.


Yes, this looks familiar. McCarville and Whalen working the pick-and-roll, together, on a basketball court. Playing, sweating, scoring …


Smiling.


“We’re really starting to build some chemistry,” McCarville said Wednesday after a workout at the Lynx practice facility. Then she corrected herself. “Rebuild.”


On March 1, the Lynx traded for McCarville, reuniting her with Whalen, her old University of Minnesota teammate. Literally from that day forward the two have been working out, recapturing the chemistry that the two had during the Gophers’ run to the NCAA Final Four in 2004.


It didn’t take long.


“It all just fell into place,” McCarville said. “From the moment I walked in and hugged [Whalen] to now. She’s dropping between-the-legs passes to me, behind the backs. I’m hitting her with good wraparound passes. … I think I’m lucky to be able to come back home.”


McCarville is the player the Lynx hope will replace the retired Taj McWilliams-Franklin at center.

Coach Cheryl Reeve said the two are similar in their ability to pass the ball out of the high post. But she looks forward to using McCarville’s ability to score in the low post. “She gets three-point plays the old-fashioned way,” Reeve said.


And Reeve can already see the chemistry the two players showed in their years together in college.


“It’s fun, seeing them work together,” Reeve said. “It’s a really unique thing and a really special thing. … The game is really easy when you let those two play. I’m excited.”


She’s not alone.


McCarville was asked if this was like an old band getting back together. Well, sort of. McCarville will also be playing with the likes of Maya Moore, Seimone Augustus and Rebekkah Brunson on a team that has one title and two trips to the WNBA Finals the past two seasons.


“It’s a better band,” McCarville joked. “Great players around me, from one through 11 [on the roster].’’


Whalen, McCarville and teammate Devereaux Peters, a second-year post player, have been taking part in pre-camp workouts the past few weeks, an invaluable time for them to work on their game and chemistry. It should allow the Lynx, looking to rebuild from last year’s loss to Indiana in the finals, to rebound.


“Obviously some years have passed,” Whalen said. “But it’s been really fun the last few weeks just working out, getting back to play with Janel. We stayed in touch [over the years], more through texting or when we’d play each other. But to actually be here, on the same team again, working out every day? This has been cool. It has been fun to reconnect.”


McCarville talked about the expectations of winning that come with playing for the Lynx and at the intensity Whalen brings even to pre-camp workouts. Whalen talked about how McCarville’s outside shot has improved over the years.


Reeve marveled at how quickly two former teammates have bonded on the court.


“I haven’t experienced anything like it in my time in the WNBA,” she said. “It’s special, and I’m going to sit back and enjoy the ride.’’


• The Lynx agreed to terms on rookie contracts with draftees Ta’Shauna “Sugar” Rodgers and Janessa “Chucky” Jeffery. Rodgers, a guard from Georgetown, was the team’s first pick in the second round, 14th overall. Jeffery, a guard from Colorado, was taken with the 24th overall pick, the final second-round pick. North Carolina center Waltiea Rolle — the team’s third-round pick — is remaining in school to finish her degree. First-round pick Lindsey Moore, a guard from Nebraska taken 12th overall, is unsigned.
 

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