Seimone Augustus Unfiltered

Although you may not have noticed - but judging by the recent spike in interest and attendance you have - the Minnesota Lynx are poised to make a serious run at the WNBA title. At the center of it all is Seimone Augustus. While Maya Moore gets most of the national attention and Lindsay Whalen has the hearts of the hometown fans, Augustus truly is the Lynx franchise player.

The No. 1 overall pick back in 2006, Augustus scored in bunches early on, but the wins barely trickled in. Each year started with new talent and promise and ended in disappointment. She missed most of the 2009 season with a torn ACL and a good chunk of 2010 following abdominal surgery. Even after she returned last year, it just wasn’t the same Seimone.

2011 however, has been marked by the arrival of Moore and a return to form by Augustus. The 27-year-old is averaging 16.3 points per game while shooting 50% from the field. The 3-time All Star took some time out to talk to me on Thursday about her stellar season and reflect back on the long, often frustrating journey that has led her to this moment.

DZ: You guys are 21-6 – I’m sure you know that – what’s it like being the hunted team instead of the hunters?

AUGUSTUS: It’s different because you have to get up for every game. You should be doing that anyway, but when you’re at the top it’s hard to get those wheels rolling like you want to. Unlike being at the bottom when you’re fighting - you have to fight in order to get into the playoffs or be in that hunt at the end of the season. It’s a different thing for us, but I think we are adjusting to it well.

DZ: You were probably optimistic heading into the year, but did you think you guys would have this good of a record right now?

AUGUSTUS: You know what, I didn’t even think about it. I just saw the team come together and I knew we had a chance to do something special here. With the history here with the Lynx, it was like the door was wide open for us to do something great. (I) didn’t know it was going to be this great, but something special was going to happen.

DZ: Everything you’ve been through with this team – the losing, the injuries – does that just make you appreciate it even more?

AUGUSTUS: Every part of it. You are grateful for it – very thankful that you can be in a position now to look back and see everything you went through to now. It feels good that you hung around; you fought through your injuries, the surgeries, fought through the losing seasons to get to this, where you are 21-6. People are starting to talk about you. The Minnesota Lynx are the buzz of the city which has never happened before. You are selling out the lower bowl, now we are selling tickets in the upper bowl. It’s amazing and I appreciate every step that I’ve went through to get to this point.

DZ: How has your game evolved since you entered the league?

AUGUSTUS: It’s changed. I came here and everybody was like “Give the ball to ‘Mone” and “’Mone’s got to do everything”. Now, I don’t have to do everything. I am still one of the focal players on this team, but (Lindsay) Whalen could step up any given night, Rebekkah (Brunson) could, Taj (McWilliams-Franklin) could, Maya (Moore) could. Mostly importantly, we have a bench that has a core group of players that could possibly be somewhere else and playing in someone else’s starting line-up. It’s everybody; it’s a total team effort. It makes my job a lot easier; it makes my life a lot easier. I don’t go home stressing as much anymore.

DZ: How about the WNBA in general; what kind of changes have you seen since you’ve been in the league?

AUGUSTUS: The talent level has definitely risen. The competition level is at new heights. People thought that when Lisa (Leslie) left and the older players that basically paved the way for us started to leave out that it would drop off, but it’s actually gotten so much better. As far as the exposure, we are still fighting for that, we are still trying to get the ESPNs and all that media coverage that we want. It’s definitely coming, we see a promising future.

DZ: You are over in Europe playing in the (WNBA) offseason, how much can you follow the NCAA (over there)? Once the Lynx won the lottery, you knew Maya was coming here, did you kind of scout her game to see how you guys would fit together?

AUGUSTUS: Honestly, it’s tough for us to keep up with the NCAA once we are overseas because we only have two English channels and it might be ESPN if we are lucky and it might be NBA TV if we are lucky. I found out about Maya through (former LSU and current Chicago Sky) Coach (Pokey) Chatman. We went to go play Spartak (in Russia) and she told me we got the pick and everything. I did do some research on Maya’s game. I had to go on YouTube and see some highlight videos just to get a feel for what type of player she was. From what I’d seen, I was impressed. I knew that the chemistry between us would be great.

DZ: Can you guys win it all this year?

AUGUSTUS: That’s the goal, but we don’t want to look too far ahead. We’ve got to take one game at a time. We are trying to get the Seattle record – it was 28-6 last year – we want to try to tie that record and go into the postseason and focus on what we need to do to get out of the first round which is something that the Lynx haven’t been able to do when they have made the playoffs.

DZ: Last year, what percent would you say you were at, at the end of the year – your health and game in general?

AUGUSTUS: I would probably say 75-80% at best. I was kind of on one flat tire last year, but fought through. It kind of showed at the end of last season when we needed that big push, I didn’t have those legs; I didn’t have the energy that I needed to help (us make the playoffs). That’s what motivated me going into the offseason – trying to lose weight and get back to 100%.

DZ: A lot of women – players – have come through here in your six (actually seven) years here. Are there that you keep up with more than others?

AUGUSTUS: For the most part I keep up with everybody. I am still cool with everybody that has been on this team at some point in time – Lindsay Harding, Renee Montgomery, Shay Murphy. I keep up with all of the players. I am proud of them to see what they’ve done for the new teams that they are on.

See more of David Zingler’s interviews with Lynx players:

July 29: Monica Wright
July 12: Taj McWilliams-Franklin

2 Responses to “Seimone Augustus Unfiltered”

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