Lynx lose Augustus for rest of the season

  • Article by: MYRON P. MEDCALF , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 20, 2009 - 12:15 AM

The team's leading scorer, WNBA All-Star and Olympic medal winner has a torn ligament in her left knee.

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Lynx star Seimone Augustus played only six games this season before suffering a season-ending knee injury.

Photo: Nam Y. Huh, Associated Press

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Jen Gillom was on a professional high ... until Wednesday.

Gillom, promoted to head coach of the Lynx after Don Zierden took an NBA job three days before the season began, guided a team that missed the playoffs the past four seasons to four wins in five games.

When star guard Seimone Augustus landed awkwardly on her left knee Wednesday, however, Gillom knew her summer would take another unexpected turn. Augustus, the team's leading scorer and a WNBA All-Star, is out for the year because of a torn anterior cruciate ligament.

Augustus left the game in Phoenix because of a left knee sprain, but an MRI Thursday revealed the far more serious injury, which did not surprise Gillom.

"I just saw her knee just buckle ... I put my head down," Gillom said. "It did not look good. She grabbed it and screamed."

Augustus was the WNBA's third-leading scorer at 21 points per game. The former LSU star, who was unavailable for comment Friday, was named Western Conference player of the week a day before she suffered the season-ending injury.

When the fourth-year player went down, Gillom said she tried to help her focus on something other than basketball, but that didn't work.

"She was very emotional; she could hardly talk to me," she said. "I just wanted her to focus on getting through [Thursday]."

Gillom would have liked some more time off to prepare the team for the loss of their emotional leader, but the Lynx played the Storm in Seattle late Friday and lost 90-62.

Her teammates, who view Augustus as the heart of franchise, struggled with the news of her season-ending injury, said Lynx guard Candace Wiggins. She said she held out hope that Augustus would return, especially since she doesn't have a history of injuries.

But Augustus wouldn't allow her teammates to pout for long. She sent all of them an encouraging text message, which said: "You guys have to stay together."

"We kind of caught ourselves watching Seimone -- that's how great she was doing," said Wiggins, who was averaging 11.5 points per game. "It's not going to happen anymore. Things have changed, and I'm ready to take on that role. Being a leader is something that comes natural to me."

The WNBA, struggling financially, cut rosters from 13 to 11 this season. Two teams have disbanded in recent seasons, and the Los Angeles Sparks and Phoenix Mercury agreed to put ads on their jerseys this season to bring in more revenue.

Losing the leading scorer doesn't seem to bode well for the Lynx. But Roger Griffith, the team's general manager, said the team has received most of its financial commitments for the season, including season tickets and sponsorships.

Still, the majority of fans who attend Lynx home games buy single-game tickets, numbers that could be affected by Augustus' absence.

The Lynx have 2,500 season-ticket holders and an average attendance of 8,000, according to Aaron Seehusen, public relations coordinator for the team.

Griffith said the team probably won't consider adding any of the players who were cut after training camp, including former Gophers standout Emily Fox. But the Lynx will look to some of its younger reserves to step up in a big way and collectively fill the all-star's shoes, Griffith said.

"Obviously, you don't replace someone like Seimone," he said. "Different people can step up."

  • LYNX SEIMONE AUGUSTUS INJURED

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