For the past few years, playing for the Connecticut Sun, watching what was happening from half a country away, this is what impressed Tan White most about the Minnesota Lynx:
“Togetherness,” she said. “You could see Seimone [Augustus] and Maya [Moore] knocking down shots. You could see Lindsay Whalen pushing the ball. You could see the bigs making good plays. But it was the all-togetherness that I saw, that I wanted to be a part of.”
And finally, she is.
White, a veteran guard with nine years in the league, was signed as a free agent by the Lynx during the offseason. The second pick in the 2005 WNBA draft brought experience and a reputation as a shutdown defender with her to Minnesota. She was also an insurance policy that coach Cheryl Reeve may have to cash in quickly.
With Monica Wright recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery — she is not expected to be ready for the May 16 season opener — the Lynx are lucky to have White.
At this point, White is still trying to get comfortable with the Lynx offense, a process that will accelerate when the bulk of the starting five, having finished playing overseas, joins the team in the next couple of days. Reeve is planning on having White as her first guard off the bench.
Whatever it takes, White said.
“I’m here, so whatever role they need filled, I’m ready,” said White, who has career averages of 8.9 points and 1.9 assists.
Until Wright returns, Reeve will be asking a lot of both White and second-year point guard Lindsey Moore.
White, a natural off guard, might have to play more point than she has in the past. She has been working a bit at initiating the Lynx offense.
“Don’t call her a point guard, because that makes her break out in hives,” Reeve joked. “But we have to make sure the play-calling helps her. And, just because you have the lead guard spot doesn’t mean you have to run the offense every time. Seimone likes to initiate, Maya can initiate. It will not be all on her shoulders.”
And Lindsey Moore needs to make a big jump in her second season so she can, if needed, take some point guard minutes from Whalen.
For White, so far it has been a process made more difficult because four of the five Lynx starters have yet to practice.
It will take time for White to mesh with her new teammates the way Wright does. Wright averaged 9.0 points and 2.3 assists in 2013, filling in well as a starter when Augustus missed time with a sprained ankle.
“It was easier for Wright, who has been with us,” Reeve said. “But I’m confident in Tan, especially as our veterans get back here and things settle down a little bit. Things will get easier for her.”
So far White has shown the ability to freeze defenders and drive to the basket. As a veteran with playoff experience, there isn’t much she hasn’t seen.
But she’s a Lynx because she hasn’t won a WNBA title.
“A championship,” she said when asked why she chose to sign here. “This is my 10th season in the league, I’m aiming to try to get one.”