The president is coming to Target Center. No not Mr. Obama, Ms. Laurel Richie, first-year president of the WNBA.

She will present Lynx forward Maya Moore with her Rookie of the Year award and second-year Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve with her Coach of the Year award shortly before the 8 p.m. tipoff between the Lynx and San Antonio.

That should get the big crowd revved up even more than it is. As of Thursday night only about 500 seats remained on the lower level and the upper level is being opened up. The Twins gave away 500 upper-level tickets earlier this week.

It's safe to assume there will be a crowd of at least 10,000, maybe more depending on the walk-up.

Here is the Star Tribune's story on Moore and Reeve being honored. Seventeen national writers and 24 regional writers -- two from each WNBA city, including me -- voted on those awards. I picked the two winners, although I highly doubt I cast the deciding ballot in either race.

Moore was an easy choice, so was Reeve.

These two awards are just the first of many to come. The MVP award winner -- and that's a tough choice -- is traditionally announced during the WNBA finals. That appears to be a three-player race between center Tina Charles of Connecticut (a record 23 double-doubles), forward Tamika Catchings of Indiana (runner-up the last two years) and guard Lindsay Whalen (point guard on the league's best team).

I wouldn't be too surprised if any of them won. Here is a stunning stat, though: No player from the Eastern Conference has ever won this award in 13 years. Charles and Catchings play in the East, Whalen in the West.

If you started torturing me, my prediction is that Charles will be named the MVP, Catchings will comes in second -- again -- and Whalen third. I listed Whalen No. 1 on my ballot because of the smooth way she ran the star-studded Lynx.

Among other awards still to be announced are: Most Improved Player, Sixth Woman of the Year, first and second all-WNBA teams, etc.


Reeve was a head coach at only one place before the Lynx, that was Indiana State from 1995-2000. The Sycamores got their first postseason berth in 20 years in her third season there. But she did not receive any coaching awards as a college head coach.

"Outside this, my biggest honor was my nomination for Rhodes Scholar," Reeve said.

She received a post-graduate award and scholarship in 1988 after earning an undergraduate degree at La Salle. She finished her master's degree in business administration from her alma mater while working as an assistant coach for the Explorers for two years.

Her players' comments on coach Reeve:

Guard Candice Wiggins: "She is really a coach that understands personalities and does a very good job of managing that and establishing a culture on the team on the professional level.

"She gets the whole aspect of managing different personalities and different age groups and giving us all a focus on business. ... Even when she gets upset, she knows how to get back on track and keep the fun in basketball."

Guard Alexis Hornbuckle and Reeve go back to Detroit. Hornbuckle was a player and Reeve an assistant on the 2008 team which won the WNBA title. Hornbuckle compared Reeve the assistant with Reeve the head coach: "She is still teaching, she is still light-hearted. She still has fun and she is all about business the same as she was in Detroit.

"She is going to find a way to win. Our starting five, they play well together. She has found a way to get the best out of them even when times are tough. Or, when we need a three, she puts Wiggins in there."

Timberwolves assistant Bill Laimbeer, the head coach of the Detroit Shock most of the time Reeve was there: "She prepares very well. She was kind of a geek watching video of other teams, but she understood what they did. Her and Rick [Mahorn, another assistant then] had a vast say in our defensive schemes. That's what her strength was and understanding personnel in college.

"She has a solid defense here and they can turn the defense up when they have to. She has built up the confidence of a ballclub that has never won before.

"She has earned all that she has gotten so far. But she would be the first one to admit to  you that the Lynx have to win in the playoffs. She really learned, since she started in the WNBA, that it is a players' game. Let the players do their thing. Just point them in the right direction."


Moore said there was a lot of talent in the rookie class this season. She said she had so much success because of her great teammates and a strong coaching staff.

"My teammates and coaches take a lot pride and are happy when we win awards," said Moore, who was named the league-wide Rookie of the Month in July and August. 

"I had a couple rough patches in the middle of the season," Moore said. "When the team struggled, I struggled. Sometimes we struggled and ended up winning anyway. We worked through that and now we are all in  rhythm."

Moore called it a tremendous blessing for her to be surrounded by so many talented players on the Lynx.

"So many of them shared and  helped me learn and grow," Moore said. "[They]  let me have the room to make mistakes, and we still won. ... It was one of those situations where the Lynx were right there on brink. And I came in and was able to benefit."

 Moore said the hardest part of her rookie season was adjusting to the lifestyle, new teammates, the Lynx system. She had to find a comfort zone on the court, too. And, of course, there is the travel. "[The WNBA] is like playing in an NCAA tournament, but for the whole season."

One issue she is sure won't be a problem is being distracted by the Rookie of the Year award on Friday before a playoff game.

"I experienced that in college [at the University of Connecticut]," Moore said. "Every year I received an all-american award or a player of the year award and then had to go play. Coach [Geno] Auriemma would say, 'Don't play like you have to prove anything. We all know what you mean to the team.' He always would give us advice: 'Appreciate the award, but don't change. Know who you are.' "

So Moore said she will try to live in the moment during the brief awards ceremony, then put it out of her mind when it is game time.

Geno would approve.