It was on February 12th against the Ohio State Buckeyes, a few days after the Golden Gophers had knocked off the 8th – ranked Penn State Nitty Lions at home, and were riding a three game win streak in the Big Ten Conference.
Late in the game Lindsay Whalen went up for a rebound and was undercut by an Ohio State player Whalen fell to the ground and landed on her right hand. She came up holding it in pain. As she walked off the floor, she grimaced a few times as she got to the Gopher bench. She remained out for the rest of the game. The Gophers ended up losing to Ohio State that evening, and the season was up in the air, just like the unsure status of the Senior point guard’s right hand.
It was announced a few days later that in fact Lindsay Whalen had broken her hand. She broke two metacarpal bones in her right hand, which landed her out of action for 4-6 weeks. (she ended up only missing five weeks.)
The Gophers struggled while Whalen was out of action but they were able to snag an NCAA Tournament birth, and the 7th seed in the Midwest Region. The Gophers were unsure, as were the fans, if they were going to have their hometown superstar for the first round of the NCAA Tournament. In fact, nobody knew if Whalen would ever play again for the Gophers in the Maroon and Gold. When the Gophers came running up the stairs and onto the court in front of a SOLD out Williams arena for the UCLA game, the first game of the NCAA Tournament, guess who was leading the Gophers onto the court? Yes, you guessed it, there she was in her famous #13 warm up her right hand with a soft case wrapped around it. The Barn went NUTS when they saw Whalen.
That night was like a fairy tale for the Gophers and the start of a magical ride for them and their fans. It was like there was a bit of magic in the Barn on that March evening, as Whalen returned to action for the first time in five weeks, and seemed to pick up right where she had left off. It was one of those nights where everything went right for Whalen, as she scored a team high 29 points. It was after a 3 pointer she hit from the right corner right in front of the UCLA bench, that got the FANS in a frenzy. After hitting the three pointer, Whalen waved her hand in the air, the fans thinking it was to show them, “hey look my hand is fine”, but it was learned later that she was calling out the defense play as she was hitting down the floor. (I like the idea that she was showing the fans, that her hand was okay better.) The Gophers would end up beating UCLA 92-81 in the First Round of the Tournament.
The rest was history and a magical run for the Golden Gophers as they reached their first Final Four in school history, losing to some team by the name of UConn.
Fast Forward to August 3rd, 2017….
The Lynx battling the Atlanta Dream in a close game. During a lose ball scramble, Whalen went for the ball and ended up running and jamming her hand against her body and Layshia Clarendon’s body. At the time it just looked like maybe a bad jam of a few fingers or a sprained wrist hand, or something. She would leave the game and wouldn’t return.
It was announced late Friday afternoon that Whalen had in fact fractured the her fifth metacarpal bone in her left hand.. yes the same bone that she broke way back in 2004 just in her left hand, not right hand as she did in 2004. This time the timetable is unsure, 3-4 weeks maybe?
Nobody knows how this will play out, but wouldn’t it be something if history repeated itself 13 years later once again for Lindsay Whalen and her team. In fact it could REALLY happen as the Lynx will be playing all of their playoff games at Williams Arena.
Will the home state superstar make another fairy tale entrance at the Lynx first playoff game at Williams Arena, and lead her team to another magical finish to their season, thirteen years apart? Who knows.. but that would bring everything full circle for the Minnesota superstar.