Cue up John Sebastian, who wrote and sang the Welcome Back, Kotter theme song — two of the three Minnesota Lynx’s midseason acquisitions are being welcomed back from previous stints with the team. The MSR recently talked to both of them.
Renee Montgomery, who Minnesota acquired last month from Seattle in a trade, finally filled the backup point guard void that was created in 2010 when the Lynx traded her to Connecticut.
“I always forget that one,” admits the 5’-7” guard, the fourth overall pick of the 2009 WNBA Draft of the first of three trades that have included her. The Sun after five seasons traded Montgomery in January to Seattle. Now on her second team in seven months, “I feel it is a constant state of catching up,” notes the seven-year veteran.
Montgomery brings to the Lynx a natural stability on the court at the point, rather than a natural two-guard trying to play unnaturally as lead guard. She had a team-best nine assists against Atlanta in her third game of her second stint with the team.
Also since her return, Montgomery at times is on the court at the same time with starter Lindsay Whalen, the player she was traded for five years ago. How do two point guards co-exist?
“Whoever gets the outlet [pass]” runs the ball club at the time, notes Montgomery.
“That’s cool. I like that,” says Montgomery smiling.
Stay ready, Shae Kelley was told when she was released just a couple of days before this season’s opener. The Lynx was stacked at her forward position, and as impressive a training camp as she had, that couldn’t break through the talent logjam.
“They told me that there might be a possibility…to call me back,” remembers the former Gopher and 35th overall pick in this year’s draft. “When they cut me, it wasn’t a ‘you’re not good enough.’ You never want to hear that as a player. It was more a situation of what they needed. I think that’s what gave me a positive outlook.”
“She played so hard when she came to training camp,” adds Minnesota Assistant Coach Jim Petersen. “She’s a good defender and plays with a lot of energy. We told her to stay ready.”
“I was at home working and staying in shape. Just waiting,” notes the 6’-1” Kelley, who Minnesota brought back soon after the All-Star Game last month. After two seven-day contracts, she was signed last week for the remainder of the season.
“You never know what is going to happen. It definitely was a relief” when she got the news, admits the rookie forward. Kelley made her WNBA debut July 31 against Atlanta.
“Her teammates like her. She fits in,” says Petersen of Kelley.
“I never experienced [joining a team] in the middle of the season,” says Kelley. “You are a little nervous. You just go out there and play ball.”
Petersen points out that Kelley must improve her outside game. “If she can learn how to make perimeter jump shots [consistently], she can be in this league,” he explains. “You can’t just drive [to the basket] because they will set up for the drive.”
The Lynx assistant coach nonetheless adds, “I really like her. I think she is going to be good.”
Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to email@example.com.
Charles Hallman is a contributing reporter and award-winning sports columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.