MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota Lynx rookie point guard Lindsey Moore didn’t have the chance to be star struck at her first WNBA practice Monday because, well, her idol wasn’t there.
Moore grew up idolizing Minnesota point guard Lindsay Whalen, who was sick Monday and missed the team’s first practice. One day later, though, Lindsey (Moore) finally got to meet Lindsay (Whalen) as the two took the court for the first time as teammates.
Having grown up watching Whalen during her days at the University of Minnesota and later following her career in the WNBA, the 21-year-old Moore has kept a close eye on Whalen for years.
“I’ve always been a fan of Lindsay Whalen, so whenever there’s a game on with the Minnesota Lynx, I’m always watching,” Moore said this week. “It was really cool to hear my name with the Minnesota Lynx because I’ve been a fan of them. They way that they have their system is awesome. They obviously have some really good players on the team and have a really good team.”
Moore was taken by the Lynx in the first round of last month’s WNBA Draft with the 12th overall pick. She comes to Minnesota via the University of Nebraska, where she set school records in minutes played, games started and games won. During her senior year, Moore averaged 15.1 points and 5.7 assists per game and helped lead the Cornhuskers to the Sweet 16.
While she saw plenty of playing time during her four years — she started as a freshman on the Huskers’ squad that went 32-2 — Moore’s role with the Lynx will likely be in a reserve capacity, at least for now. She’ll be backing up Whalen, who is entering her fourth season with the Lynx after beginning her career with Connecticut.
“Just contribute in any way I can at the point guard, honestly,” Moore said of her role with her new team. “I think it’s going to be so much fun. It’s such an honor to learn from Lindsay Whalen. I just hope to do what she does for them. That way when she comes off the floor it’s not a drop-off. It’s maintained. Just being consistent is a big thing.”
Playing at Nebraska means Moore has a bit of a familiarity with the Twin Cities. Her Huskers squad that went 32-2 her freshman year played its regional games of the NCAA Tournament at Williams Arena on the University of Minnesota campus. She later played there once Nebraska joined the Big Ten Conference. This past January, Moore led the way with 26 points and seven assists in the Huskers’ 84-63 win over the Golden Gophers.
“The court is something different and you definitely don’t see it at all,” Moore said of the raised floor at Williams Arena. “It was definitely weird the first time we played in Minnesota, just being a part of that. It’s been a really fun city to be in. They’ve always had really good fans for really I feel like any sport.”
Speaking of fans, Moore has long been one of Whalen. Although their time as teammates has been brief, it appears as if Whalen might already be a Moore fan as well.
“She’s got a great shot. She really works hard,” Whalen said. “You can tell she’s been playing at a really good program down at Nebraska. She sees the court well and runs the team well. It’s exciting to see young players come in with talent.”
Growing up in Hutchinson, Minn., Whalen didn’t have any WNBA players to look up to until her freshman year of high school, when the WNBA was formed. Instead, Whalen grew up watching the NBA and rooting Phoenix Suns and her favorite player, Charles Barkley, until the Minnesota Timberwolves became a franchise.
Whalen has now become the face of her hometown team. Her No. 13 jersey can be seen on the backs of many young fans during any given game at Target Center. A nine-year veteran, Whalen has embraced her role as an ambassador of the game and a role model for younger generations.
Now, that even includes her teammates.
“I think that’s kind of something that we all aspire to be is for the next group to come up and want to maybe be like you or get to the point where they’re in the WNBA or they look up to you as a role model,” Whalen said. “I think that that’s one of the really cool parts about being a professional athlete and having played college is just having that responsibility for the next group to come up to continue to raise our games and continue to make them better and help make the next group better behind them. That’s always cool.”