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Mystics-Lynx Preview

May 16, 2010 - 4:13 AM By SANTOSH VENKATARAMAN STATS Senior Writer

Washington (0-0) at Minnesota (0-0), 7:00 p.m. EDT

Lindsay Whalen is finally back home.

Whalen will make her Target Center debut for the Minnesota Lynx on Sunday night against the Washington Mystics.

The Lynx acquired the former University of Minnesota standout from Connecticut in the offseason, bringing the hometown star back to the state where she led the Golden Gophers to the Final Four in 2004. She was named Sportsperson of the Year by both local newspapers that year, beating out NBA MVP Kevin Garnett and AL Cy Young Award winner Johan Santana.

It's clear Minnesotans respond to having their local stars play professionally in the Twin Cities. The addition of the two-time WNBA All-Star has been compared to the Twins signing St. Paul native Joe Mauer to an eight-year extension for what it will bring to the franchise.

The Lynx are giving away collector's cards featuring Whalen at the home opener.

"We know a lot of people have waited for this day for six years; memories of her leading the U of M program on its magical 2004 Final Four run are etched in Minnesotans' hearts forever," Lynx chief operating officer Conrad Smith said. "The collector's card pays tribute to Lindsay's incredible accomplishments as a Gopher, while also looking forward to what we expect will be a tremendous career with the Lynx."

Whalen will have to shoulder the load early for the Lynx (1-0) with stars Seimone Augustus (abdomen) and Candice Wiggins (knee) currently out. That wasn't an issue in her debut Saturday as she had 10 points and six assists in a 80-74 win at Tulsa.

Charde Houston scored 21 points, and rookie Monica Wright added 18 in her first game.

Washington (1-0) is also dealing without a superstar as Alana Beard out for the season due to ankle surgery.

The Mystics, though, responded in their season opener with a 72-65 win at Eastern Conference champion Indiana on Saturday. Monique Currie scored 21 points and Crystal Langhorne finished with 19.

Katie Smith added 12 points in her Mystics debut. Smith began her WNBA career with Minnesota from 1999-2005, and won two titles with Detroit over the next four years before signing with Washington as a free agent.

"She just has a toughness about her," said Washington coach Julie Plank about Smith. "She's competitive, she's not afraid of anything, and she just wills people to win. When she's on the floor, they know they can do it."

The teams split two meetings last season. Minnesota won 96-94 at home on July 7 to spoil the return of former top overall draft pick Lindsey Harding, who led the Mystics with 27 points.

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