The Whalen Effect

short ornery norwegian

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There is a fairly long history of player-coaches or player-managers in pro sports, but in every case, they were coaching or managing the team that they played on, not a different team.

Bill Russell won 2 NBA titles as a player-coach for the Celtics. I think the most recent example is Pete Rose, who was a player-manager for the Reds for a couple of years.

Of course, in today's world, being a coach is a year-round job, so Whalen is facing a more difficult challenge. If I had to bet, I would say this is her last year as an active player for the Lynx. I'm sure she was hoping to go out with one more title, but the Lynx will have to turn things around in a hurry if they want to pull that off.
 

oak_street1981

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Maya has not been great and the team is old and that is the problem Lindsay is very old and that is a problem, and Simone is old as well. Maya, Burnson and Sylvia have to carry this team if anything great is going to happen and Maya has not been up to snuff.

All this whining and worrying about for a 36 year old with a fairly stout physique to be an elite PG is misguided. Most of the WNBA players play a long European season where they make the real money, and Lindsay has not done that for at least two years so she is fresh. She is just getting old and thick (for a PG) and the Gopher job has nothing to do with any of this. And to retract the earlier comment, Lindsay W. has always been a very sturdy player, so being 36 is the issue most likely, not anything else.
 

hungan1

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Cheryl Reeve has to start thinking of a youth movement.

Lindsay Whalen has a determined fighting spirit, but the sun is setting on her career as a pro player. Michael Jordan fought age, but came to the realization that while the spirit was willing the body wasn't quite what it used to be.

I'd say this will be the last season for her playing for the Lynx. We shall forever be grateful for the Lynx being the only MN pro team to bring four championships in the recent era.

Lindsay Whalen was part of a team that energized the crowd. Since her arrival in a trade with the Connecticut Sun, the Lynx has an average season attendance of 10,407. Only the LA Sparks with 11,350 is higher.
 

hungan1

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Whalen is playing pretty good against the Mercury first quarter. It is now 3rd quarter 5:18. Lynx lead 58-39, Whalen just made a 3-pointer for a total of 11 points.
 

oak_street1981

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Whalen was great vs. the Mercury and the rest of the team looked pretty impressive as well. Maya Moore and Fowles can carry the team if either gets going.

I hope the new guards can get comfortable and start to bring their considerable skills to the team. #3 super quick and Tanisha R is super tough. (#9 the foreign player looks like she has some potential as well)

My concern right now is that Simone A. is getting old in a hurry plus has been injured and she looks like a shell of her former self. She is not moving well on the floor at all, looks very awkward when jumping and cutting, and I hope she can recover from her injuries and is not just washed up. Regardless, she had a great career and had much to do with the championships.
 

hungan1

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Cecilia Zandalasini I thought looked good. I think the youth movement is slowly starting. Whalen is like a second coach on the team. She'll play less and less or as needed desperately to preserve what is left in her tank for the rest of the season IMHO. Is Carlie Wagner eventually going to return? It will be a battle for her. She has to go overseas and get playing time and experience and conditioning.
 

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I recently had the same concern about the inevitable decline in performance by Seimone. Then I looked at her stats and watched her closely for a couple of games. So far this year she actually still shows good stuff. Her minutes per game were 26.4 in 2016, 27.7 in 2017 and 25.9 this year. Her scoring average was 11.2 in 2016, 10.9 in 2017 and 11.5 this year. Plus I watched her closely guarding Diana T their last two matches and I have to say Seimone was keeping up with Taurasi as well as ever. So far, so good. I also agree that Cheryl recruited good talent in Robinson and Wright, both of whom have previously played at an All Star level and have some chip on their shoulder to prove they still have it. I also believe Ceci and even Jones have excellent outside shooting ability and hopefully will show that as they get more playing experience.
 

hungan1

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Whalen and Seimone may not score as many points, but their value on court is priceless. BTW, I was surprised to look up the standings and see the Lynx are now 10-6 with a seven-game win streak. They are still in 4th behind in the Western Conference behind the 13-5 Mercury, and 12-5 Storm and Sparks. There is eighteen games left in the regular season.
 

hungan1

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Can Whalen win at Minnesota? IMHO, if she shows coaching and recruiting prowess early on, and with her history of winning at all levels she can. But, the history of successful winning coaches indicates it takes time to build a program to championship level.

It starts with being able to recruit players like Paige Beuckers. Will she stay home? I'd be surprised.

But, not all great players decide to leave. If she does stay home, she may put the Gophers at a faster trajectory into a program with a shot at the Final Four or who knows. It's all about timing.

Connecticut and Notre Dame are two powerhouses with established coaches. It is hard to compete against them in recruiting. Tennessee was another program that reached greatness under Pat Summitt. It wasn't always like that for all these programs. It took some time.

Here are a snapshot of the three winning coaches:

Notre Dame:
Coach - Muffet McGraw, 1987 to present
Record - 886-270
National Championships 2 - 2001, 2018
Number of years coaching before first national championship: 14 years
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Notre_Dame_Fighting_Irish_women%27s_basketball

Connecticut:
Coach - Gino Auriemma 1985 to present
Record - 1119-297
National Championships 11 - 1995, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2009, 2010, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016
Number of years coaching before first national championship: 10 years
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Connecticut_Huskies_women's_basketball

Tennessee:
Coach - Pat Summitt 1974-2012
Record - 1098-208
National Championships 8 - 1987, 1989, 1991, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2007, 2008
Number of years coaching before first national championship: 13 years
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pat_Summitt

BUT, other coaches have won a National Championship sooner albeit they have not reached the pantheon of greatness that McGraw, Auriemma, and Summitt have achieved.

Brenda Frese at Maryland won the National Championship in 2006, four years after she left Minnesota. We can only speculate what could have happen had she stayed. Brenda Frese leaving Minnesota was a big blow. It was tough to see the U letting her get away. I don't know the reason why she bolted. She is one of the coaches to watch. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brenda_Frese

Kim Mulkey at Baylor won her first National Championship in her fifth year in 2005. She won again in seven years later in 2012. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kim_Mulkey

A more contemporary comparison to Whalen is Dawn Staley. She coached at Temple 2000-2008. She was coaching while playing for the WNBA. She was with the Charlotte Sting between 1999-2005, and then with Houston Comets in 2006. She then went to coach South Carolina in 2008. It took her 9 years at South Carolina to win her first National Championship in 2017. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dawn_Staley#Coaching_career

Will Whalen be like Dawn Staley or Brenda Frese, or something else? Time will tell. All the resources and support are in place for her to pen her chapter and win at Minnesota. The future of Gopher Women's Basketball looks good. Whalen has to be lucky in recruiting great talent early to fast track the program. It's all about recruiting to reach the pinnacle of success. You have to win consistently and make it far into the NCAA tournament to attract even better players.

NCAA Women's Basketball Championship History - https://www.ncaa.com/history/basketball-women/d1
 

hungan1

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Continuing the discussion on why Brenda Frese left Minnesota, here is an article in the Coach&AD magazine, Charlie Patton, October 2, 2009.

COACH: What made you leave Minnesota for Maryland after only one year? What did you see in the Maryland program that convinced you that the Lady Terrapins were ready to become a powerhouse?

FRESE: There were a lot of factors. First and foremost was the vision of our athletic director, Debbie Yow. She was very instrumental in her leadership and we just really meshed, we were in sync. Maryland had been a powerhouse in the 1980s and I knew with the support, facilities, and the location, we had the ability that we needed to attract top-notch players to play for us in the ACC. I thought the combination of all of those factors presented us with a perfect fit to make it a nationally ranked program.

So, it wasn't so much that Minnesota is a bad place or AD Joel Maturi. It is more what Maryland had to offer that made it a far superior place to coach.

If you read the rest of the article, you find some very interesting insight as to what makes a good coach.

We hope that Lindsay Whalen has those qualities that bring out the best out of every player, and that she has/develop recruiting savvy.

https://coachad.com/articles/brenda-frese/
 

Ignatius L Hoops

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So, it wasn't so much that Minnesota is a bad place or AD Joel Maturi.

https://coachad.com/articles/brenda-frese/
Maturi did not become AD until after Borton was hired. Frese left because of women's AD Chris Voelz. Frese and Voelz didn't see eye to eye. Voelz was gone before Borton was hired. That should tell you something.

As we found out a few years ago, Frese was also interviewing at Ohio State. The Buckeyes thought she was coming to Columbus and were surprised when she signed on at Maryland. Brenda wanted out.
 

Ignatius L Hoops

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Actually, Voelz hired Borton.
My mistake. Voelz was gone shortly after Borton's hiring.

https://gophersports.com/news/2002/...ota_Women_s_Basketball_Coach.aspx?path=wbball

"This winter, the women's basketball program was the pride of our state," said University President Mark Yudof. "I am confident that under Pam's leadership this program will continue to achieve great success, attract record crowds and inspire all Minnesotans."

"Coach Borton brings an outstanding record both on and off the court to this program," said University Vice President and Chief of Staff, Tonya Moten Brown. "We're delighted to have her join our team."

"Though we've had a few speed bumps getting to today, I believe the hiring of Pam Borton assures us that we will not miss a beat in resuming our pace in athletic achievement, academic accomplishment and community enthusiasm for Golden Gopher women's basketball," said Voelz.
 

tripledouble

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I also recall that Frese was in the process of getting a divorce from her first husband at the time. I doubt that this was the major reason she wanted to get out of town, but it was probably a factor. IMO, the major reason for her departure was her relationship with Voelz, and then the subsequent feeling that she would have a much better relationship with Yow. Recruiting base and facilities were also a factor. I recall that Yudof, then the U of M president, had offered her a nice salary increase after that magical year, but it was not enough to convince Frese to stay. Yes, I think she could have had the same long-term success here that she has had a Maryland. No, I have never forgiven her for using the U as such a quick steppingstone.
 

Ignatius L Hoops

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https://www.apnews.com/c1e56b30a4ebec225ca82785729b4408

Brenda Oldfield, who turned around the women’s basketball program at Minnesota in her first year as coach, is expected to be hired Tuesday by the University of Maryland, The Associated Press has learned.

Oldfield, who led the Golden Gophers to their first winning record since 1993-94, has agreed to a six-year contract, according to a university source, who spoke Monday night on condition of anonymity.

Other terms of the contract were not released.

Minnesota had offered Oldfield a ``very competitive″ package to stay put, women’s athletics director Chris Voelz said, but that apparently was not enough. Her current $130,000 annual base salary is less than half that of many coaches at comparable programs.
 

Ignatius L Hoops

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http://www.postbulletin.com/whalen-...cle_de53d163-af97-5951-9977-663c1f99f7e3.html

Getting back to Whalen and the reason I thought Voelz didn't have much to do with Borton's hiring:

As emotions inflamed by Brenda Oldfield's move from Minnesota to Maryland level off, Gophers All-America point guard Lindsay Whalen has taken to leading the team off the court as well.

The sophomore from Hutchinson, Minn., believes it's time for her to become more vocal in decisions affecting the program's future. Minnesota doesn't have a coach, and Oldfield's four assistants have no official duties as they await word on whether they'll join Oldfield at Maryland.

Minnesota women's athletics director Chris Voelz is in charge, but Voelz's future is uncertain because her one-year contract expires June 30.

If the program had an interim "coach," it would be Whalen.

"I want to become more of a leader on our team; I feel I've earned that right," said Whalen, the Big Ten Conference player of the year. "I want to be more involved in the search process this time for a coach. Last year, I wasn't involved much. I was just coming off my freshman year and I didn't think I had much of a say.' "



Whalen already has taken steps to help keep the program intact. She made calls Tuesday night to two of the Gophers' three recruits -- all-state guard Shannon Schonrock of Blue Earth Area High School and Marshall's Shannon Bolden, the 2002 Miss Minnesota Basketball. Whalen spoke with Schonrock and left a voice-mail message for Bolden. Whalen also hopes to contact Eden Prairie center Christina Collison.

"Shannon (Bolden) was impressed with Whalen's message," said Lionel Bolden, Shannon's father. "She was at a track meet and heard the message when she got home. Whalen told her that the team is sticking together. That made Shannon feel a lot better about the situation."

Whalen and Oldfield developed a close relationship. Oldfield often left certain game strategies to Whalen, and said several times during the season that she had great trust in Whalen to run the team on the floor. With two years remaining at Minnesota, Whalen was looking forward to learning more from Oldfield, which might explain why Whalen has been so vocal about her disappointment.

When Oldfield cried at Tuesday's emotional meeting with the players, Whalen said she looked around and saw everyone in tears but herself. She was too upset to cry.

"I just sat there and looked at the floor," Whalen said. "The only time I've ever cried about basketball was when we lost to North Carolina (in the NCAA tournament), and that was because I was mad that the season was over."
 

tripledouble

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Thanks for posting, Iggy. It's interesting to note that Whalen was more successful in retaining players as a player than she was as an incoming coach. (Tongue-in-cheek.) I'm referring to the losses of Finau(sp?) and Stewart. I also remember Whalen, when asked how she thought the team would get along with Oldfield, she replied with (paraphrasing), "Well, the last time I looked, the coach didn't play any minutes last season." There's no doubt that she was disappointed at the time Oldfield left, as many of us were.
 

hungan1

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Thanks for posting, Iggy. It's interesting to note that Whalen was more successful in retaining players as a player than she was as an incoming coach. (Tongue-in-cheek.) I'm referring to the losses of Finau(sp?) and Stewart. I also remember Whalen, when asked how she thought the team would get along with Oldfield, she replied with (paraphrasing), "Well, the last time I looked, the coach didn't play any minutes last season." There's no doubt that she was disappointed at the time Oldfield left, as many of us were.
I would've love Stewart, but I prefer Mercedes Staples over Lesilau Finau.
 

Ignatius L Hoops

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Reinforcing the Moten Brown/Voelz riff and that with the end of her contract quickly approaching Chris Voelz was becoming the lamest of ducks; at her infamous press conference Voelz claimed:

http://news.minnesota.publicradio.org/features/200204/02_pugmiret_oldfield/index.shtml

Voelz says the university was offering Oldfield a pay increase that would have placed her among the top 20 coaches in the nation. She earned $130,000 this year. University of Maryland officials say Oldfield's six-year contract will guarantee her $275,000 a year.

Voelz says Oldfield told her money was not the reason for leaving: "She said that there were three things. One was weather and one was facilities and one was a talent base that she thought could not win a national championship."

Voelz denies suggestions that she had a poor relationship with Oldfield.



Both Oldfield and Moten Brown disputed Voelz's statement:

http://www.brainerddispatch.com/content/moten-brown-disputes-voelzs-remarks

The comments attributed to Oldfield left some Gophers players angry.

Oldfield on Thursday denied making them.

"Those three points are not consistent with anything I've ever said since coming to the University of Minnesota," Oldfield said. "People who know me know those are statements I would never make."

Moten Brown said Thursday she told Voelz that she did not recall Oldfield making the "talent base" statement.

"I don't mind saying that my recollection is a little different," Moten Brown said. "My understanding was that Brenda would weigh a lot of factors -- and that recruiting base and ability to recruit kids to Minnesota would factor into a decision.

"I would not necessarily draw any inferences that because she chose to go to Maryland it must mean she didn't have that here. She didn't say those words," Moten Brown said.



And of course a month earlier Moten Brown and Voelz disagreed on the merger of the men's and women's athletic departments, for example:

http://news.minnesota.publicradio.org/features/200203/08_pugmiret_athletics/

Moten Brown says there's also no evidence to suggest separate athletic departments result in greater team success than in merged departments.

The biggest difference between the average merged departments and the University of Minnesota is found in the administrative costs. Her report shows Minnesota spends $1.8 million more a year than the average among Big Ten schools. Moten Brown says the university spends $1 million more just for marketing and promotions.

"I do believe in my judgement that the excess costs arise because of the absence of a coordinated or unified marketing strategy. We have effectively two separate marketing staffs, two separate marketing strategies that are in no way coordinated or unified. And we staff them and we fund them accordingly," she said.

Moten Brown estimates the annual cost of operating separate departments is an additional $1.4 million.

Women's Athletic Director Chris Voelz disagrees with Moten Brown's conclusions. She says the extra marketing costs could be attributed to the university's urban setting, competition against professional teams for fans or the departments being simply over-staffed.
 

hungan1

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The grueling Lynx schedule is leaving little time for Lindsay Whalen to do a lot of the recruiting legwork, especially in person.

This is where Asst. Coach Carly Thibault-Dudonis comes in. Lindsay Whalen is in constant contact permitting Lynx practice or games. She is committed to helping the Lynx make a run at another WNBA Title.
 

whalenfan

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The grueling Lynx schedule is leaving little time for Lindsay Whalen to do a lot of the recruiting legwork, especially in person.

This is where Asst. Coach Carly Thibault-Dudonis comes in. Lindsay Whalen is in constant contact permitting Lynx practice or games. She is committed to helping the Lynx make a run at another WNBA Title.
The next viewing period is during the wnba all star break so she should be able to get out and see games. She was out on sunday at the Mill city tournament, took a 4 am flight to get back after the lynx game.
 

hungan1

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There is some connection between Lindsay Whalen and Carly Thibault-Dudonis.

Carly's dad Mike Thibault was head coach of the Connecticut Sun from 2003 to 2012. He drafted Whalen in the 1st round (4th overall) out of Minnesota in 2004.

Word has it that Whalen had spent some time in the Thibault household. So, she knew Carly early on. Mike Thibault was born in Saint Paul Mn.

So when Whalen came calling, I don't think it was difficult decision for Carly to join the Gophers coaching staff. She is going to be critical to Lindsay Whalen's success at recruiting and is a rising star in her own right.

Here is her bio from Gophersports:

Title: Assistant Coach.

Carly Thibault-DuDonis (pronounced TEE-bow doo-DON-iss) was named assistant coach at Minnesota on April 23, 2018. She spent the past two seasons on the Mississippi State coaching staff where she helped the Bulldogs to the Final Four and national title game in both of her seasons in Starkville.

"I've known Carly for a long time and she's had a pretty fast rise as an assistant coach and a recruiting coordinator in helping get Mississippi State to back-to-back national title games and selling out their arena," head coach Lindsay Whalen said. "She's been a part of a real success story there, and I think she'll be able to bring that knowledge and passion that she has for the game here. She's a go-getter and a hard worker."

This past season, Mississippi State won a nation's-best 37 games en route to winning the program's first Southeastern Conference championship and advancing to the national championship game for the second-straight year.

"I'm thankful to Lindsay and the University of Minnesota for the opportunity to join her," Thibault-DuDonis said. "I'm excited about Lindsay's vision for Minnesota women's basketball and to help her get the program back to a place where it's competing for Big Ten championships and Final Four appearances year after year.

"I've known Lindsay since she was drafted into the WNBA in 2004 and I have yet to meet someone as competitive, team-oriented and dedicated as she is. That, coupled with her leadership abilities, are going to make her a great head coach at Minnesota for years to come."

In her first season working with the Bulldog guards and coordinating the program's recruiting efforts, she helped land the nation's 19th-ranked recruiting class while helping lead MSU to a then school-record 34 wins and the national title game in the program's first Final Four appearance.

Thibault-DuDonis joined the Bulldogs following two seasons on the staff at Eastern Michigan. In her final season, she helped guide an EMU offense that scored 2,445 points, third-most in a season, and dished the seventh-most assists (435) en route to going 22-12 and advancing to the second round of the WNIT. The Eagles won 20 games in each of her two seasons in Ypsilanti, as the 2014-15 squad tied the school record for wins in a season with a 24-13 mark. That team advanced to the Mid-American Conference Tournament Championship before wrapping the year in the WNIT Round of 16.

Thibault-DuDonis made the move to EMU following a stint in Tallahassee as the Director of Recruiting Operations at Florida State. During her time with the Seminoles, she managed the team's recruiting database and communication plan as well as assisting with the administration of the program's basketball camps.

She played collegiately at Monmouth from 2009-13. She concluded her playing career third in school history with 166-career 3-point field goals made. The East Lyme, Conn., native shot 37 percent from the three-point stripe in her career, but knocked down 40 percent as a junior and 44 percent in her final college season. She was also an outstanding shooter from the free-throw line, knocking down 75.3 percent over her four seasons.

Her father, Mike, was a longtime coach in the NBA before making the move to the WNBA. He was the head coach of the Connecticut Sun when the team drafted current Gophers head coach Lindsay Whalen in 2004, while he currently coaches the Washington Mystics. Thibault-DuDonis married Blake DuDonis in the summer of 2017.
 

Ignatius L Hoops

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Word has it that Whalen had spent some time in the Thibault household. So, she knew Carly early on. Mike Thibault was born in Saint Paul Mn.
Not word; but a fact covered in several articles at the time of Carly's hiring.
 

hungan1

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Lindsay Whalen has chosen three assistant coaches that she is connected with at one part of her basketball career. Carly Thibault-Dudonis, Kelly Roysland, and Danielle O-Banion all fit the bill.

Advice must be free-flowing from the likes of Cheryl Reeve, Dawn Staley, and Pam Borton.

I am looking forward in anticipation how this coaching team is going to work together. Through your greatest adversity, you will find your greatest strength as the saying goes.
 

Tucker

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I had a source tell me that the reason Brenda Oldfield left was because Voelz was getting in her hair and not giving her enough space. The impression was Voelz couldn't contain herself with a team that was doing so well.

My source was the husband of an ex-Gopher athlete who I figure is a better source than me... but how good...I'm not sure.
 
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