Web Editorial Associate
On many successful teams, you can always recognize one player that provides a spark and makes a difference off the bench.
For the Minnesota Lynx, Renee Montgomery is that player.
This season has been another example of just how valuable Montgomery is to the Lynx.
Nicknames and Good Vibes
Personality wise, Montgomery might be one of the more animated and energetic on the Minnesota team.
First of all, Montgomery has a nickname for literally everyone. That includes friends, family members and teammates, both past and present.
“I think most people have accepted their nicknames that Renee gives. I don’t know if it’s a West Virginia thing, but she just doesn’t like to call people by their names, she nicknames them,” Maya Moore said. “If I’m ever around and people don’t know Renee, I have to translate for them, so they can understand who Renee is referring to. That’s just how we get down.”
Secondly, Montgomery prides herself on having good vibes. Something that has drawn her to Minnesota.
“That’s just how I was raised. I don’t have friends that are negative, I don’t have friends that gossip or anything, I just don’t like bad vibes,” Montgomery said. “That’s why, when choosing a team like when I came back this year, I knew what the vibes were like on this team so I wanted to stay with it.”
Off the court, Montgomery is very valuable to the Lynx. And we haven’t even started to talk about her on the court.
Energy Off The Bench
One thing Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve has preached to her team this season is doing the little things, because they will eventually lead to bigger things.
If you’ve watched the Lynx at all this year (which, I mean, you certainly should be), you’ve noticed that Montgomery play has been the definition doing the little things.
“On a team like this where we have four Olympians and (Rebekkah Brunson) who is amazing and we have a good bench, you have to find your niche. I really do pride myself on, OK my shots aren’t going in that’s not going to determine how well of a game I play,” Montgomery said. “If my shots are going in, hopefully that’s icing on the cake. . . I like to not let (shooting) determine how I’m playing.”
When Montgomery is in the game, she literally doesn’t stop moving. That energy helps lift the Lynx when they need it most.
“She’s someone who knows her role is to bring energy and to keep the teams momentum going. She owns that unlike a lot of players that I’ve played with,” Moore said. “Coming from a point guard, you have two emotional leaders from (Lindsay Whalen) and Renee, but they do it differently. So no matter what the situation is, we know we are going to have that from our point guards and that really helps us stay consistent.
“It’s also helpful when the energy she brings translates into execution on the court. I know she is happy, she works hard and wants to step into every moment she’s given. It’s always fun when she does that and it really just elevates us from a really good team to almost unbeatable when we have our bench playing like that.”
Thriving In Her Role
Montgomery has been thriving in her role as of late for Minnesota. Although, that’s really what she’s been doing for the past two-plus seasons in a Lynx uniform.
Through 15 games so far in 2017, the nine-year guard is averaging 7.6 points, three assists and 1.3 rebounds per game.
Her 7.6 points and three assists off the bench are both her highest in four years.
“We tell them, you don’t have to do fantastic things, do the little things. The little things lead to bigger things. I think for Renee, I think she’s just looking for her shot,” Reeve said. “You have to kind of ride it (when she’s on a hot streak). You go a little bit up and then you go a little bit down and then a little up. You just want to stay (balanced).”
Two things that stand out when you think of Montgomery are her three-point shooting and her ability to steal the ball on defense. This season, she is shooting 34 percent from three (nearly two percent higher than last year) and is averaging just under one steal (0.8) a game.
“I think the steals really get me going. Threes are fun too, but the steals really get me going. I have a love/hate relationship with threes,” Montgomery said. “I just want to try and press the tempo, especially on a team like this when we have a lot of everything. You have to find your niche and that’s what I am to this team.”
Although he is capable of doing the little things for her team, Montgomery’s role has expanded in the last two games thanks to her stellar play offensively.
In the last two games, she is averaging 14.5 points, 3.5 assists, three rebounds, 2.5 steals and shot 64 percent from three.
“I would hope that the percentages play out like they say about keep shooting because the percentages will play themselves out,” she said. “I’ve missed a lot in the beginning of the season, so you would think at a certain point, me thinking I’m I shooter, would think that they would start to go in. I was happy to see a couple of them go in.
“I put a lot of work in all the time, even when I’m missing, so I’m just happy that the fruits of my labor are starting to show off a little bit.”
There are many things Montgomery provides the Lynx, most notably being a spark off the bench. But there is one thing for certain when it comes to the point guard: she is going to keep working as hard as she can, preparing for that moment her name is called to enter the game.
And when her name is called, you can bet Montgomery will be ready to deliver for her team.
“This is why you play basketball. When you are putting in the extra work, going to the gym when nobody’s there and I’m just getting shots up, you’re getting shots up for those moments,” she said. “You’re not getting shots up for when you’re up 20. You’re putting up shots and you’re putting in the extra work for the big games where every point matter because you never know how it’s going to go. As a player, that’s what you dream about.”