MINNEAPOLIS -- About the only thing Suzie McConnell Serio
can do now is pray.
Pray the five WNBA teams picking before her in Saturday's draft
don't think highly enough of Lindsay Whalen.
And it just might take a miracle.
"There is no sympathy when it comes to trying to draft the best
player,'' the Minnesota Lynx coach said Thursday.
Likewise, the Minnesota Gophers' star point guard said Thursday
she'd like to stay close to home and play for the Lynx.
"But it's definitely a business,'' said Whalen, who is from
Hutchinson. "So we'll see what happens.''
The Lynx continued to jostle for position to select Whalen -- the
team traded forward Sheri Sam and center Janell Burse to Seattle on
Thursday in exchange for the No. 6 pick and forward Amanda
Minnesota now holds the sixth and seventh draft picks. But some
are projecting Whalen to go as early as No. 4.
"It would be a bonus for us if she did fall,'' McConnell Serio
The top five teams in the draft, in descending order, are
Phoenix, Washington, Charlotte, Connecticut and New York.
Those expected to be top-seven picks include UConn's Diana
Taurasi, Alana Beard of Duke, Kelly Mazzante of Penn State, Nicole
Powell of Stanford, Chandi Jones of Houston, Nicole Ohlde of Kansas
State and Whalen.
Phoenix already has said it would pick Taurasi. Beard would
likely go next. After that, it gets fuzzy.
But it's clear Whalen, who will travel to New York City for the
draft with her family and Gophers coach Pam Borton, will be playing
professionally somewhere this summer.
She'd prefer to keep playing in Minneapolis.
"Obviously I'd like to stay here and play,'' Whalen said. "I'm
from here, I grew up here. It's a unique opportunity for me.''
And a unique opportunity for the Lynx, one of many WNBA teams
that struggle to draw fans. The team drew 10,494 fans a game in its
inaugural season, but it has averaged fewer than 8,000 the past
Whalen, meanwhile, and the Gophers were busy packing Williams
Arena the last couple of years and their popularity soared during
this month's run to the Final Four.
Sellout crowds became common this past season. Many of the fans
were grade-school girls wearing maroon-and-gold jerseys bearing
Whalen's No. 13.
Besides Whalen's fancy passes, ball-handling displays and
3-pointers, McConnell Serio knows she'd bring more fans with her.
"She will put people in the seats. She is a hometown
favorite,'' the coach said.
But while McConnell Serio is hopeful, she admits there's not
much more she can do to improve the team's chances for landing
"We've kind of done almost everything that we can do. I don't
know what else could happen unless someone else approached us,''
The Lynx also own draft Nos. 20, 33, 38.
Other draft prospects from Minnesota include Colorado center
Tera Bjorklund, a 2000 graduate of Sibley East High School, and
Harvard forward Hana Peljto, a 2000 graduate of Osseo High School.