The W Exclusives: Renee Montgomery
Catching up with the Minnesota Lynx’s 2009 rookie sensation.
Renee Montgomery came into the WNBA with already an incredibly impressive resume. In high school, she led her team to three-straight state championships while earning McDonald’s All-American Honors. In college at UConn, she cemented her legacy in 2009 leading the Huskies to a 39-0 record, earning a National Championship to go along with her numerous All-First team selections and accolades. In fact, Renee left Connecticut as one of only three players in Connecticut history to tally 1,500 points and 500 assists in a career, and the only player in program history to rank in the top-10 in points (1,977), assists (626), steals (266) and three-pointers (251).
Needless to say, coming into her first season in the WNBA, Montgomery was already an experienced and established champion.
Renee was selected as the No. 4 overall pick by the Minnesota Lynx, a team certainly on the rise that needed a point guard for the future. Montgomery made a stellar impression early on for the team with her scoring prowess, ability to take care of the ball, and superb court vision in the Lynx’s up-tempo system.
In communicating with Renee, the first thing I noticed was how funny and witty she is! She was also incredibly kind, however, and you could tell how grateful she is to be living her dream. Be sure to visit WNBA.com to read all about her rookie season in her exclusive blogs for the league.
Recently, I caught up with Renee to get her thoughts on her rookie season, the importance of being a leader, and her goals to improve as a player in 2010.
SLAM: Talk about your season coming into the league as a rookie; new coach, new style, and the adversity the team faced when Seimone went down and how you banded together.
Renee Montgomery: My rookie season of the WNBA was a roller coaster. It started in training camp when we had a head coach change. The team adjusted to that quickly and focused on the season. In the beginning of the season we were on top of the world (No. 1), but then Seimone got hurt and everything changed. People had to take on different roles, and I think to a certain extent we were successful. After the All-star break we struggled and at one point we were one game away from making the playoffs. Unfortunately we didn’t make it and my Rookie season ended early. Congratulations to the Phoenix Mercury and of course my fellow huskies Diania and Ketia. (Sorry, I had to… I bleed husky blue)
SLAM: What was your overall experience in the WNBA as rookie? Was it what you thought it would be?
RM: My overall experience in the WNBA as a rookie was good. I mean we didn’t make the Playoffs but I think my team as well as I grew up a lot over the course of the season. The things we went through will help us this upcoming season, and it also brought us closer together on and off the court. I don’t know if this was released in the papers but according to Candice Wiggins, I made the All-Rookie Water Girl team. So because of that achievement I can say that overall my Rookie season was a success.
SLAM: You recently wrote a fantastic essay about leadership. What other qualities, both as a player and professional, do you strive to get better at each day?
RM: Consistency. That’s one of the most valuable things in basketball. There’s nothing better than your Coach and teammates being able to depend on you to do certain things every night.
SLAM: 39-0 at UConn is quite an achievement – is that your biggest to date? If not, what is?
RM: Going undefeated and winning a national championship is my biggest and proudest accomplishment thus far. I also was very humbled by being the first active player to be inducted into the “Huskies of Honor.” That was a very special moment because my family and friends were there, but nothing compares to winning a championship with my UConn Coaches and teammates.
SLAM: You do a lot in the community, especially with The Pajama Program. Why is it so important for you to give back?
RM: I feel that I am blessed to be in the position that kids and even some adults look up to me. I always want to use my position to help others and also be a bright spot. The Pajama Program is a great organization that focuses on providing children with Pajamas so that they can feel safe and comfortable at bed time. I love kids and I love to sleep so I knew it would be a great fit for me. ; )
SLAM: What do you see your role as for the Lynx in 2010?
RM: I see my role as being a solid point guard that makes sure the offense is running smoothly and also controlling the tempo. I also see myself being more of a leader than I was last year.
SLAM: Though it was your rookie season, did you notice any increase in popularity in the WNBA and women’s basketball as a whole?
RM: I feel that it did. I think the WNBA had a lot of games that were high quality and people were talking about them the next day. Not the people that watch every game, but people that “don’t watch women’s basketball.” That’s a huge step for the WNBA, and I think that the uptempo style of play this year had a lot to do with it. Now if we could get more college basketball fans to watch the WNBA we would really be doing well.
SLAM: Alright, here are some quick-fire questions for you – lets start with your favorite movie.
RM: Moulin Rouge (I bet you didn’t expect that… I love musicals).
SLAM: Favorite musical artist/group?
RM: Canton Jones.
SLAM: Favorite food?
RM: Fried chicken & mac and cheese made by my Snook (that’s my Mom for those of you who don’t know).
SLAM: Favorite superhero?
RM: Wonder woman.
SLAM: Hidden talent?
RM: Great ability to sing off pitch.
SLAM: Funniest teammate?
RM: My UConn teammate Tahirah Willams.
SLAM: Favorite sport besides basketball?
SLAM: Ideal career to model yours after?
RM: Tonya Cardoza, my old UConn coach, now head coach at Temple.
Be sure to visit Renee’s official website at http://reneemontgomery20.com/.