She has played in 358 regular season games in 12 seasons, won four WNBA titles and scored nearly 6,000 points.
And yet, shortly after the Minnesota Lynx finished their morning shootaround in Atlanta on Tuesday, Seimone Augustus admitted she was feeling butterflies.
“Jitters, anxiety,” Augustus said in a phone interview. “Butterflies. Just because you want to come out and play well. We’re on a four-game losing streak. You want to snap that streak with your comeback.”
For the first time this season Augustus — who had an arthroscopic procedure done on her right knee May 30 — is expected to play for the Lynx on Tuesday night.
Augustus returned to practice last Wednesday, and has been ramping up her work since. She had a good practice in Atlanta on Monday, and did well in Tuesday’s shootaround. Baring any setback, Augustus should play when the Lynx face the Atlanta Dream at 6 p.m.
Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve was not available for comment, but the plan is for Augustus to start — no surprise, really, considering Augustus has started every game of her WNBA career. It is unclear who will come off the bench in this scenario.
Augustus took part in the early part of training camp with the team, and appeared in both preseason games. But the pain in the knee eventually required the procedure, and she has been working her way back since.
And now? “It is really good to be back,” she said. “I got a few practices in, and I’m looking forward to the game tonight.”
It will be a process. Reeve said last week, as Augustus’ return neared, that her minutes will be limited. Augustus said there is no way to truly mimic the up-and-down nature of a real game in a controlled practice environment.
“We’ll have to get through the cardio and all that stuff,” she said. “I’ve got to get back to the mental part of it. It will be a process, not just one game. But it’s good to be back out there.”
On a young team with many new parts — should Augustus start tonight she will be surrounded by a number of new players — Augustus has been a vocal leader from the start, even when she wasn’t able to play.
“I took a role of being more vocal,” she said, “and talking to the young players, getting them to understand what coach wanted. But now I get to show them through example. I’m glad to be back. I’m glad to be able to lead by example.”
She is needed. The Lynx take that four-game losing streak into Tuesday’s game, which comes in a crucial part of the season.
But Augustus said she expects good things. “We do have three All-Stars on this roster,” she said, referring to Sylvia Fowles, Odyssey Sims and Napheesa Collier. “We do have good players here. It will take some time for me to find my rhythm with them. But my role is to be aggressive, to create situations that will help my teammates get easier baskets. I hope I can take a load off of them.”