Lindsay Whalen and Pam Boron following the Gophers defeat of Duke in the Midwest Regional Final.

Photo courtesy of the University of Minnesota via Pam Borton

Former Gopher Coach Borton: Whalen’s Impact Will Go Beyond the Court

The fact that Whalen played point guard could help her as a coach

April 12, 2018 - 7:20 pm

Lindsay Whalen’s return to the University of Minnesota to become head coach of the Gopher women's basketball team has drawn national headlines and statewide praise for a Minnesota native and local sports icon.

The news was particularly meaningful for former Gopher women’s coach Pam Borton, who coached Whalen at the U for her junior and senior years. One notable highlight from the 2003-4 season: When Whalen scored 27 points as the Gophers beat top-seated  Duke 82-75 in the Midwest Regional Final, leading to the programs first Final Four appearance.

Borton told WCCO she “couldn’t be prouder” to see a former student of hers in the job she held for 12 seasons.

“I've been talking to Lindsay during these last couple of days and it's something she's very passionate about. I think she's been looking at this opportunity for a long time, to be back and part of the program in some way,” she said.

While Whalen was one of the best players to come out of the U -- she left the program as Minnesota's all-time points leader, along with being second all-time in assists and third all-time in steals, and then went on to win four championships with the Lynx and two Olympic gold medals, one thing she hasn’t done professionally, until now at least, is coach.

Borton, however, thinks that Whalen’s experience as a point guard running plays will be telling and that Whalen is more than prepared to take the job.  

“I think one of her strengths is going to be coaching and running a practice. What she wants to run, as far as the Xs and Os, she’s doing it at a very high level, better than anyone,” she said.    

Whalen will replace Marlene Stollings, who recently left to take the head coaching job at Texas Tech.  Whalen says she will play in the upcoming season with the WNBA champion Minnesota Lynx, and will then coach the Gophers, pending the approval of Board of Regents.

Based on her history, Borton believes Whalen’s impact will go well beyond the court.

"She has changed the Lynx program since she came on board. Her leadership, her brand, her positivity, how much she cares about the university. She's going to get the state of Minnesota back, reengaged with the program," Borton said.