After A Slow Start, Augustus Begins Living Up To The Hype

By Jim Souhan
Updated: May 24, 2006

Seimone Augustus

Seimone Augustus

MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Lynx built a marketing campaign around rookie Seimone Augustus, stamping the words “Have you seen her?” on billboards and posters, right there under her smile.

Augustus, the former Louisiana State star, was known in college as much for her cool demeanor as her smooth style.

When you are declared a franchise player before you play your first game for the franchise, though, the expectations can alter you in unpredictable ways.

So, with three minutes left in the first half of the Lynx’s opener on Tuesday night, Augustus took the ball near the top of the key, impatiently waved away a teammate offering a pick, crossed over, pulled up, drew contact and swished a jumper.

She screamed, pumped her fists and bumped shoulders with teammates.

“I think I tried to pull out a little bit of everything,” Augustus said later. “A lot of people said I didn’t show a lot of emotion in college, but I showed a lot of emotion today.”

The Lynx lost their opener 81-69 to the Connecticut Sun and old friend Lindsay Whalen on Tuesday night at Target Center. If there were any lessons learned about Augustus, they were these:

1) She should use the bench only as a place to keep her water bottle.

2) She should be no more patient waiting for the ball than the Lynx were in marketing her silky game and sunny disposition.

That marketing campaign asked “Have you seen her?”

The appropriate answer for much of the first half was, “No, when will she arrive?”

After averaging 28 points a game in the preseason, she encountered a good team determined to deny her the ball.

For most of the first half, the Sun succeeded. During the first 15 minutes of the 20-minute first half, Augustus had one basket.

Then, with a little more than four minutes left in the first half, she drew a foul and made a free throw.

Two possessions later, she drove the baseline, stepped back and swished a jumper.

With three minutes left, she took charge and made that take-charge three-point play. In the Lynx playbook, that should be forevermore known as “Play No. 1.”

Augustus had scored six points in a minute and 25 seconds. With 51 seconds left in the half, she drew another foul and hit both free throws, and with 20 seconds left she dribbled between her legs, pulled up and hit another “J.”

The Lynx trailed by eight before she began her scoring rampage. By the end of the half it was 39-39, and Augustus had outplayed the game’s other draw, the surprisingly quiet Whalen, who wasn’t the only Minnesota notable in the arena.

In the crowd were Kevin Garnett, Troy Hudson, Pam Borton and Vikings receiver Travis Taylor.

Considering what each of their teams have gone through in the past year, you could catch them gazing at the action and thinking wistfully, “That looks like fun.”

It was refreshing to watch a home team at Target Center without thinking, as the ball got passed around, “Overpaid, overpaid, overpaid.”

As an added bonus, the annoying guy across from the visitors bench didn’t pound his program on the ground, as he does throughout Timberwolves games.

Augustus was so dominant at times, Wolves/Lynx owner Glen Taylor immediately tried to sign her to an under-the-table contract extension.

The Lynx controlled the third quarter until Augustus took a break with 1:19 left.

From that point until Augustus checked back in with 6:07 left in the game, the Sun outscored the Lynx 13-2.

One game into her career, she’s already indispensable. “It’s very exciting,” she said. “I actually get to walk out of the offices and see my picture every day. I know I don’t look like it, but I’m ecstatic.”

Minnesota is desperate for a magnetic new star, and a successful pro team. Augustus could be the former, and deliver the latter.