Lindsey Harding doesn’t return to Duke all that often – the last time was when her jersey was retired in a ceremony in January 2008. She was back Thursday night, though, and watched the Blue Devils beat Ohio State.
I asked her what it was like now coming to Cameron Indoor Stadium, where her No. 10 hangs, without Gail Goestenkors there anymore and Joanne P. McCallie on the Duke bench.
Harding sighed. Obviously, the atmosphere will never be quite the same for her, but she also really appreciates that McCallie wants her to feel good about visiting.
“Well, this is always going to be home, regardless,” she said. “I mean, Coach G wasn’t going to coach here forever, no matter what. Coach P has made it very clear from the moment she took over, ‘You know you’re welcome here anytime.’ I have a little sad feeling because my coach isn’t here, but it’s still home.
“And we still text a lot – G is really big on texting. Her last one, she asked me when I was coming to visit Austin. I like to go down there and watch her coach.”
And Goestenkors, who left Duke in 2007 for Texas the day before Harding was picked first in the WNBA draft (and subsequently traded to Minnesota), likes watching her former point guard in the pro league.
Harding, who had a splendid 2007 rookie season with the Lynx cut short by a knee injury and then played in 2008 with Minnesota, too, was traded in January to Washington – aka “Team ACC.” There were six players on the Mystics’ roster last season who had played at ACC schools. Harding had a very easy transition from Minnesota to DC., and excelled at playing for first-year Mystics coach Julie Plank, whom she’d also worked with in Minnesota.
“I felt healthy, and it felt like a fresh start with a coach I was very comfortable with and a group of players many of whom I had played with and against,” Harding said. “When I stepped in the gym, everyone played well with me from day one. The fans are great because they’ve seen most of us play in college and they know who we are. I think it’s fun.”
Harding thinks the Mystics,who made the playoffs at 16-18, just need a little upgrade in personnel for 2010.
“I think there were a lot of games where we were so close, and we did what we could with everything we had,” she said. “Adding a post would help get us over that hump. Of course, everyone else is going to get better and try to get what they need, too. It’s very rare that you can get that big, talented center.”
“I’m excited about next season, about who we can get. I’m eager to see what our coaches have in mind. I love playing for Julie. We see the game the same, and she wants to know my opinion and what I see on the court.”