UNCASVILLE, Conn. – Lindsay Whalen took jump shot after jump shot Tuesday testing her injured left knee while her Connecticut teammates ran drills at the other end of the court, preparing, if necessary, to move on without her.
Whalen helped the Sun to the best record in the WNBA and home-court advantage throughout the postseason. But now a small fracture in the heavily braced knee may keep the gritty guard from the WNBA Finals, which begin tonight against Sacramento.
“This is an opportunity for everybody to step up,” Sun forward Nykesha Sales said. “Lindsay’s a big part of our team, but we have some other players who are going to have to come in and fill some pretty big shoes.”
Whalen, who averaged 16.5 points and 36 minutes through the first two rounds, was injured in a collision with Indiana guard Tully Bevilaqua late in the first half of Saturday’s Eastern Conference final. She’s has been receiving treatment 12 hours a day, and the location of the fracture is away from the area that receives the most of the stress when running. That’s given Whalen and the team some hope that she’ll be on the floor at some point in the Sun’s second straight attempt at the title.
“It could be worse,” Whalen said. “I’m already kind of running around and jumping. They kind of said to me, ‘Just see how you feel.’ “
All season, the second-year guard has aggressively attacked defenses and created opportunities for her teammates. She scored a playoff-high 27 points against Detroit in the first round, getting to the free-throw line 17 times and making 15.
“Lindsay is unique in that she’s a star in creating,” Sacramento coach John Whisenant said. “She’ll create something out of nothing, either for herself or her teammates. She’s the Steve Nash of the WNBA.”
Jen Derevjanik, a second-year player out of George Mason, would likely start in Whalen’s place. A speedy and defensive-minded player, Derevjanik has averaged only 6.5 minutes in the postseason and has yet to score in the playoffs.
“I’ve been thinking that whoever I give the ball to, I know they’re going to do something good with it, so it really doesn’t matter,” Derevjanik said.
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