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Reunited and ready

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Fans will talk forever about the good old days and try to recreate the feelings they had when their favorite team played in and won a big game. When it comes to putting pieces back together, it is rare to be able to capture the moment.

Back in 2004, the Gophers Women's basketball team claimed their stake to the sports real estate when they made a Final Four run led by Lindsay Whalen and Janel McCarville, the dynamic duo put women's basketball on the map.

The two carried the Gophers to the Final Four, in the process disposing of UCLA, Kansas State, Boston College and Duke before losing to Connecticut in the national semifinals. Whalen entered the tournament after spending five weeks off the court with a broken hand dropped 31 points on UCLA and McCarville dominated in the post adding 19 points and grabbing 17 rebounds in the opening round opening eyes across the nation.

Although they spent the better part of the next decade apart, they keept in touch via text and conversations when their paths happened to cross, but that changed this spring when the Lynx traded Candice Wiggins to Tulsa in a three-team deal with New York clearing the way for McCarville to come back home.

"Back playing with Lindsey is amazing," said McCarville. "Nothing's changed, she's improved tremendously since our Gopher days. I'm lucky to play with her and we've been having a lot of fun out there on the court together."

McCarville enters the veteran group fresh off back-to-back WNBA Western Conference championships and a WNBA title two years ago taking over the post position from team glue Taj MacWilliams-Franklin who retired from the league and is now a coach in New York.

"I really walked into a great situation with a lot of great teammates, a great coach, the staff together is tremendous. The support they give us, the work ethic they try to instill on you, it's a great atmosphere to walk into because they really have your back top to bottom even as a teammate stance, we've got great teammates who care about you, not selfish and we've got a real good making for a championship team."

Even the head coach is familiar for McCarville. Cheryl Reeve was an assistant in Charlotte who made Janel the number one overall selection in the 2005 WNBA Draft.

"A known entity, when you are trying to prepare for life without Taj," said Reeve about making the trade for McCarville. "The person that was going to come in, not to take her place, because no one will take Taj's place but Janel was about as good as we could do in that role."

Her point guard seems excited to be able to feed her in the post after nine years, but it is the little things that flash through her memory banks that have Whalen excited.

"Just getting to play with her again is great. She's got such a great spirit about her and she's a fun person to be around," said Whalen. "It's just fun to see us now I guess as a little more wise I guess. It's fun to reminisce about the college days but then to get to think about this season and our goals for this season together."

After the loss in last season's championship series against Indiana, the mission is simple, getting there certainly won't be. Whalen and McCarville will try to make the second time together just as sweet as the first.

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