Whalen & Co. on Lynx ready to defend WNBA title

Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said having the point guard back on the floor makes practice better for everyone.

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Ex-Gopher Lindsay Whalen is back with the Lynx after playing overseas. She’ll be 30 Wednesday.

Photo: Jerry Holt, Star Tribune

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She was the only player at Friday's Lynx practice without a number on her jersey.

Not that Lindsay Whalen needed one. Everyone knew who she was.

The veteran point guard, No. 13 in case anyone forgot, looked sharp at her first preseason practice in the last 30 minutes -- that's all the media is permitted to watch. Except, ugh, maybe on that no-look pass a new teammate of hers didn't anticipate.

Whalen has been in Minnesota for a week, after playing her last game in the Czech Republic on April 24.

"Coach really understands our bodies. I got a week off," Whalen said, referring to Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve. "But I still worked out a little, because I didn't want to be too out of shape."

Reeve said practice was better with Whalen on the floor at the Lifetime Fitness Center underneath Target Center.

"When you add the best point guard in the league to the mix," Reeve said, "you have an overall comfort level at every position. She just knows what she is doing. A great leader."

Whalen was named to the All-WNBA first team last season when she averaged a league-high 5.9 assists per game and led the Lynx to their first league championship.

"This is my third year here playing with Seimone [Augustus], second year with Maya [Moore]," Whalen said. "You kind of pick up where you left off because that's what happens when you have an unselfish team.

"When you have everyone who is willing to make the pass, and willing to play defense and play hard. That's how we were able to do so well last year."

The Lynx went 27-7 during the regular season in 2011, and 7-1 in the playoffs.

"I feel like we are all ready for another good year," said Whalen, a former Gophers All-America player. "I feel good. [I'll] get the legs back, get a little cardio going after the first couple of days here. I know coach will be on us and checking everybody."

Whalen had surgery on her left ankle for bones spurs a week after last season ended. Then, after rehabilitation, she played for USK Praha for the fifth offseason season. Her team won the Czech League title.

"It is a grind, but it is a fun grind, a great job," said Whalen, who turns 30 on Wednesday. "I really don't have an complaints. I love it. I am not thinking about retirement yet."

What is on her mind is the Summer Olympics in London. She, Augustus and Moore are all on the U.S. team and will be taking part in a national team mini-camp May 11-13 in Seattle.

"When we get there, we will be working on our USA stuff," Whalen said. "Right now, we are working on Lynx stuff. It will be a busy summer."

Augustus also reported to Lynx training camp for the first time Friday.

The Lynx return five starters, four of whom were WNBA All-Stars, and four of six reserves. The team's first exhibition game is May 10, and the season opener is May 20 against Phoenix at home.

"We are getting a couple more [players in camp] tomorrow and a couple more Sunday and Monday," Whalen said. "It will be great to finally see everybody together. If we use every day really well, despite the fact people are coming in late, we will be all right."

Whalen never was someone to brag.

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