ESPN: Lindsay Whalen ready to instill her own vision for Minnesota Gophers


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Nov 11, 2008
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ESPN: What do you like better about coaching versus playing, and vice versa?

Lindsay Whalen: The things I miss about playing are teamwork and camaraderie. You still get that as a coach, but as far as coaching, I like the fact that I am not as sore after the games. Coaching is still part of the game you love, and the players are wonderful to be around. Events like this are fun because everybody is so good to each other and are happy to be here, so it makes it a lot of fun.

ESPN: Minnesota got off to a great start last season, opening with 12 consecutive wins, but finished 21-11 overall and 9-9 in the Big Ten. What are your expectations for your second season?

Whalen: The Big Ten is really tough. I want to build off of last year. I think I will be better prepared as a coach to handle the rigors of the Big Ten season. We have a much harder nonconference schedule, which I think is going to be good because it's going to prepare us for the Big Ten season. It's hard to say a record or where we'd want to finish, but I want to make the NCAA tournament. A lot of our seniors want to get back there. They got to play in two [NCAA tournament] games [in 2018]. Last year we made the WNIT. I'd love to make the next step and make the NCAA tournament. That's a big goal for sure.

ESPN: What is your vision for Minnesota?

Whalen: Every team I was on, all my successful teams, we were great teammates to each other, we really valued each other as people first. I want to build that. I want to build a program where players really grow and learn. To have a really safe place to go through a really important time in their lives when there is a lot of development.

I want that to be first and foremost. I want to make sure we are cognizant [of that] and treating each other as good people first. And then when you go through adversity and hard times during the season, when you have that bond and when your team is like your family, the team will get you through that hard time, you know?

Every season you will have two, three or maybe even four losing streaks, but if you have a family atmosphere you can rely on each other and get through that time. If you don't have that, we might struggle, so that's [very important to build].

ESPN: What are some of the shifts you've made since you began coaching as you begin preparation for the second season?

Whalen: I think I have a better understanding of how I want to build practice and how I want for things to go over in the fall and into October, how you want to build things to get your team ready for games. I have a much better understanding of what that looks like and what that takes. My first year I was learning a lot and I am sure I will continue to learn, but I definitely have a better understanding of the rigors of the season and what you want to build and what to look for and expect.

ESPN: How has your competitiveness as a player translated into your coaching?

Whalen: You still get a lot of that competitive spirit as a coach. You are still trying to win -- at the end of the day it falls on you. You want to win the game, you want to make the necessary adjustments and put your team in the best possible position to win. You're still competing against the best coaches and the best players in the country.

Go Gophers!!
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