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Lindsay Whalen’s Lynx teammates know she’s on ‘a whole other agenda’ as a player and a coach

Whalen spent this season being a WNBA point guard and Division 1 head coach at the SAME TIME. What a way to go out.

WNBA Finals - Game One

Legendary Minnesota Lynx point guard Lindsay Whalen walked side-by-side with her head coach, Cheryl Reeve, ahead of her teammates into the tunnel at halftime with a six-point lead over the Washington Mystics on June 7. Rather than a player-coach talk, really, it was two coaches talking to each other.

This year was much different for Whalen, who not only played her usual role as the starting point guard for the most dominant franchise in the league, but also began her first summer as the Minnesota Golden Gophers head coach. She will retire from the WNBA when (if?) her Lynx are eliminated from the WNBA Playoffs.

“Lindsay is on a whole other agenda,” her teammate and current MVP Sylvia Fowles told SB Nation. “She’s like a Player Boss Lady. I wouldn’t want her job, but that’s why she got it, because she’s good at it.”

If you think Whalen’s job balancing her play as the starting point guard of a defending champion team with being the head coach of a Division 1 basketball team sounds tough ... you’re right.

When the Lynx came to D.C. in early June, Whalen hasn’t been in her office at Minnesota’s campus in nearly three weeks. As of then, she’d been on the road or playing in a professional basketball game for 16 of 18 days. Things hadn’t gone the usual way for her team either, which had one of its worst starts in recent memory and finished just two games over .500, forcing them into a single-elimination game against their arch-rivals, the Los Angeles Sparks. It’s been a whirlwind.

The Lynx had two separate back-to-back three-game road trips earlier this year, and the team gathered a day early in Washington to hold a community service event to replace what would typically have been their trip to the White House to celebrate last season’s title, too.

A leader for her entire career, Whalen’s had to learn where and when to concentrate her energy.

“My assistants are holding it down honestly,” Whalen told SB Nation. “Before it was a lot of being in the office and watching and recruiting like going to tournaments and things like that. Just trying to learn the day-to-day like making phone calls when I have to and working on the computer.”

That’s all while the WNBA’s third-leader in assists endured her 15th season in the league.

“I think Lindsay’s been Lindsay,” Reeve said on June 7. “I think she’s enjoying not being a coach when she’s here. I think she enjoys that rest. When she leaves here she’s going to get on the phone, and probably set up another unofficial visit when we get home. I think she’s the point guard and leader of this team when she’s here.”

Whalen was focusing on her rest as her team flew through a lengthy road trip. She has to pick when to run on overdrive and when to let the rest of her coaching staff at the University of Minnesota take the reigns.

“I think my first couple weeks I had tons of energy because I was busy all of the time,” Whalen said.

Since then, things haven’t been the same. The point guard struggled through her final season, averaging a career low in points and shooting percentage.

“I think it kinda hit me … As a player … I don’t know, I’m not making as many jumpers as I want to help the team,” she said in June, laughing. “I had a couple bad turnovers tonight, I’m still trying to improve as a player and help the team as much as possible. That hasn’t changed from last year.”

That’s been hard as her team’s aging dynasty battles against Father Time, an outstanding new rookie class, and debatably the most talent the league’s ever seen across each roster.

But even through the stress and the slumps, Whalen’s been her dive-on-the-floor self in games and maintained her humor and captainship behind the scenes.

“She’s still Whay,” teammate and former MVP Maya Moore told SB Nation. “She’s better than ever being a leader and being the team’s jokester.”

Minnesota basketball lives and breathes Lindsay Whalen, and that won’t change. She spent four years at the University of Minnesota, where attendance multiplied by 10 from her freshman to senior season, and she’s played in a Lynx uniform since 2010.

Minnesotans could not have been happier to hear the baller they’ve grown up with was taking on the role as the Golden Gophers head coach. Her Lynx teammates are just as thrilled.

Editor’s Note: This story was originally published on June 13.