McCarville brings her rare skill set to Lynx

  • Article by: MICHAEL RAND , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 11, 2013 - 1:05 AM

The former Gopher is back in Minnesota -- and back on the court with Lindsay Whalen.

After nearly a decade apart and plenty of detours along the way, Lindsay Whalen and Janel McCarville are going to be reunited on the basketball court.

The Lynx on Friday acquired McCarville and a second-round pick in 2014 as part of a three-team trade with New York and Tulsa. That means Whalen and McCarville, who led the Gophers women's basketball team to the Final Four in 2004, will be teammates again.

"We've been back and forth on text and calling, like, 'Man, it might happen again,'" McCarville said of she and Whalen in recent days. McCarville saw Whalen working out Friday before an introductory news conference. "When I walked into the gym, the first thing she did was come over and jump on me. We're both pretty excited."

In the deal, Minnesota sent restricted free agent Candice Wiggins to Tulsa in a sign-and-trade. Tulsa also got Nicole Powell and a third-round pick in 2013 from New York, while the Liberty gets Deanna Nolan and a third-round pick from Tulsa.

McCarville, 30, brings a unique skill set to the Lynx. At 6-2, she is a rugged post player, but she also is a deft passer.

"That is very different than some of the skills of the post players that we do have," Lynx Executive Vice President Roger Griffith said. "It's that different quality about her that is one of the main things we talked about where she fits in with our team."

The Lynx, coming off back-to-back trips to the WNBA Finals, including a title in 2011, doesn't know yet whether Taj McWilliams-Franklin, 42, is returning for another season. This move could be construed as a sign the Lynx are moving on without her, or at the very least that they are adding depth.

"I think probably the biggest thing is we have a potential starting job open," Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve said. But, she added, "Janel is about team, and that fits in really, really well with our team, and that is the most important thing."

McCarville, who was a junior when Whalen was a senior during the Final Four run, was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2005 WNBA draft by the Charlotte Sting. She averaged double figures in scoring 2007-09 with New York. McCarville hasn't played in the WNBA since 2010 because of a dispute with New York -- "We didn't see eye to eye on the same things," she said, like "not having enough time off before going to camp" -- but she has continued to play overseas.

Strangely enough, she and Whalen played this past winter in Turkey for different teams.

"I can't wait to get back on the court with Janel," Whalen said. "We obviously developed some great chemistry from our days at Minnesota, and I'm looking forward to working with her on the pick-and-roll again this summer. It's going to be a lot of fun."

Both left their overseas teams early because they weren't getting paid. And McCarville's early departure paved the way for her return to the WNBA and this trade.

"In a way, it was a blessing in disguise," McCarville said. "Something great came out of a bad situation. It's on to the next chapter of my life, and that chapter happens to be back here in Minnesota."

Many fans tweeted excitement over the news -- including Pam Borton, McCarville's coach for three years at Minnesota, who said on Twitter, "Our players and the Gopher program is very excited Lindsay and Janel are back on the same team in our city!"

After all these years.

"I go back to what we have said all these years since Lindsay was first drafted by Connecticut: We are here to build a winning team," Griffith said. "If Lindsay, if Janel can be part of that in a way that makes sense, we like that. The biggest thing we did is we were patient."

Michael Rand 612-673-7564

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  • Executive Vice President Roger Griffith and former Gopher center Janel McCarville held up her new Lynx jersey.

  • JANEL MCCARVILLE

    Position: Forward

    Height, weight: 6-2, 205

    College: Minnesota

    Years pro: 6

    WNBA stats

    Games played 187

    Points per game 8.7

    Rebounds per game 4.7

    University of Minnesota

    Graduated in 2005 as the school's career leader in field goal percentage (.580) and blocked shots (200). Finalist for 2005 Wooden Award.

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