Blount: Finally healthy, Augustus puts it all together

  • Article by: RACHEL BLOUNT , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 13, 2011 - 6:44 AM

A healthy Seimone Augustus has excelled at both ends of the floor this year.

hide

Lynx forward Seimone Augustus laughed Sunday while sitting on the bench late in the second half against the Phoenix Mercury. The Lynx won 96-90.

Photo: Chris Morrison, Associated Press

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

At the end of their end-of-season interview last fall, Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve thanked Seimone Augustus for the work she had put in to recover from two surgeries. With those days behind her, Reeve said, she couldn't wait to coach a healthy Augustus in 2011 -- which left the Lynx guard pondering just what that meant.

After two seasons interrupted by injury and illness, Augustus could barely recall how it felt to play in peak condition, to inhabit a body that would allow her to use every drop of her talent.

"I thought, 'Who is this healthy Seimone she's talking about?' " Augustus recalled last week. "What is she supposed to look like? What is she supposed to be? I wanted to do everything I needed to do to be that person Coach was talking about."

Reeve's statement launched Augustus on a journey of self-rediscovery that continues this week with her first appearance in the WNBA playoffs. Two long years of recovering from a torn knee ligament and abdominal surgery ended last winter, when she lost 30 pounds and returned to her team determined to shed the disappointment of the past.

Augustus has fully embraced the defensive side of the game, finding new thrills in locking down some of the league's best players. She has also maintained her scoring touch, leading the Lynx in points (16.2 per game), free-throw percentage (.865) and three-point percentage (.417) while playing a team-high 29 minutes per game. Her performance is exactly what Reeve envisioned last fall, and it is having exactly the effect she hoped for on a team enjoying the best season in franchise history.

"It warms my heart to see her smiling all the time," Reeve said. "Coming off those injuries, Seimone had to hear a lot about how she wasn't the player she used to be. I knew she would be back better than ever, and it's been great to see what she's done."

Always an optimist, Augustus said she never lost faith that the Lynx -- who had not reached the playoffs since making her the No. 1 pick in the 2006 WNBA draft -- would change their fortunes. Nor did she lose hope that she could regain her edge after two trying summers.

Augustus tore a knee ligament six games into the 2009 season, leading to a long and grueling rehabilitation. At the same time, her father, Seymore, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Because of her injury, she wasn't allowed to fly home to Baton Rouge, La., to see him, a tough thing for a devoted daughter to accept.

Augustus persevered through several frustrating, dispiriting months as her knee healed. She expected to return at the start of the 2010 WNBA season, but that was derailed when severe pain from uterine fibroids required an unexpected surgery. After nearly a year away from competition, Augustus played the final 25 games of the season, finishing with career lows in scoring and field-goal percentage.

Still, she put up 16.9 points per game, eighth best in the WNBA. Prompted by her postseason discussion with Reeve, Augustus changed her diet, cutting out beef and pork and cutting down on her beloved soul food. During a winter playing in Turkey, she put in extra practice time with teammates Sylvia Fowles and Doneeka Lewis -- both fellow Louisiana State alumnae -- and tapped another teammate, Tamika Catchings, for advice on improving her defense.

When the Lynx began training camp this year, her teammates were awed by her fitness.

"She made up her mind that she wanted to lead us, that she wanted to put this team on her shoulders and carry us," said forward Charde Houston. "To see how she got herself back into the shape she was before the ACL injury, that shows how dedicated she is to this team. It brought tears to my eyes."

In addition to her scoring role, Augustus has been defending her opponent's best player this season, to great effect. She studies game film and tailors her approach to each individual, using her quickness or size or strength as needed. As part of a Lynx defense that is among the best in the WNBA, Augustus proved her mettle when she held San Antonio's Becky Hammon -- the league's ninth-leading scorer -- to a single basket on 20 attempts in the teams' past two meetings.

All that has refreshed Augustus's memory of what it's like to be at the top of her game, with her playoff debut offering the chance to do even more.

"It feels great to be healthy, just enjoying basketball and having fun," Augustus said. "I hadn't done that in years because of the health issues. To be part of this team and have a season like this, it means a lot to me."

Rachel Blount • rblount@startribune.com

  • related content

  • WNBA playoff schedule

    Tuesday September 13, 2011

    Game 1: Friday, at Target Center, 8 p.m., NBA TV

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Kansas City - WP: J. Guthrie 3 FINAL
San Francisco - LP: T. Hudson 2
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Cleveland
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Washington 10/27/14 7:30 PM
Dallas
New Orleans 10/30/14 7:25 PM
Carolina
Dallas 117 FINAL
Orlando 92
New York 80 FINAL
Toronto 83
San Antonio 87 FINAL
Houston 96
Miami 104 FINAL
Memphis 98
Minnesota 113 FINAL
Chicago 112
Phoenix 105 FINAL
Utah 100
Sacramento 93 FINAL
LA Lakers 92
Denver 112 FINAL
Golden State 119
Portland 99 FINAL
LA Clippers 89
Dallas 3 FINAL(SO)
New Jersey 2
Tampa Bay 4 FINAL
Winnipeg 2
Vancouver 3 FINAL
Colorado 7
Carolina 3 FINAL
Edmonton 6
Columbus 1 FINAL
Anaheim 4
Connecticut 21 FINAL
(18) East Carolina 31
Miami-Florida 30 FINAL
Virginia Tech 6
So Florida 17 FINAL
Cincinnati 34
Troy 13 FINAL
South Alabama 27
BYU 30 FINAL
Boise State 55
(6) Oregon 59 FINAL
California 41
North Texas 11:00 AM
Rice
UAB 11:00 AM
Arkansas
Rutgers 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
Texas 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 11:00 AM
Illinois
Memphis 11:00 AM
SMU
North Carolina 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 12:00 PM
Navy
Northern Ill 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 1:00 PM
Colorado
Akron 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 1:00 PM
Toledo
Ohio U 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10:59 PM
Hawaii
(2) Florida State 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Louisville
Troy 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
Cincinnati 10/31/14 7:00 PM
Tulane
Tulsa 10/31/14 7:00 PM
Memphis
Purdue 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
(17) Oklahoma 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Iowa State
Oklahoma State 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
(10) TCU 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(22) West Virginia
Texas 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Texas Tech
Northwestern 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Iowa
Maryland 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Penn State
Houston 1 FINAL
Chicago 2
Montreal 23 FINAL
Ottawa 17
Saskatchewan 27 FINAL
Calgary 40
Hamilton 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 6:00 PM
Winnipeg
Hamilton 10/31/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Winnipeg 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Toronto 11/2/14 11:00 AM
Montreal
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close