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Q&A: Star Point Guard Renee Montgomery

Renee Montgomery has had an action-packed couple of days. First, she helped the Connecticut Huskies cap a 39-0 season with a win in the national championship game over Louisville on Tuesday night. And this afternoon, the 5'7" point guard was taken fourth overall in the WNBA draft by the Minnesota Lynx. Montgomery, a first-team All-America, spoke with me over the phone after she was drafted.

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Hoophead: So what have the past 48 hours been like for you?
Renee Montgomery: It's been kinda crazy. We flew in [to Connecticut] from St. Louis [the site of the Final Four] yesterday and when we got to the airport there was a pep rally already waiting for us. People were standing out in the cold for at least two hours waiting for us to get there. Then, when we were driving back to campus, people were standing along the highway with signs and standing on the overrides cheering us on, just to see the bus pass and cheering us on. When we got to campus, we went straight to Gampel Pavilion and had a pep rally there, and there were more people there. It was just an unbelievable experience. And then I left at 4:45 a.m. to come here [to New Jersey] to get drafted, and then got drafted by the Minnesota Lynx. I don't know what's going to happen next, but it's been a jam-packed 48 hours.

Hoophead: How much sleep have you gotten over the past couple of days?
Renee: Phew, I would say total, over the last few days, six hours.

Hoophead: What are you going to do to celebrate being drafted today?
Renee: Sleep! [laughs] Breathe a little bit, that might be what I do to celebrate. I'm just excited for the future.

Hoophead: What do you think about playing with Lynx' stars Seimone Augustus and Candice Wiggins?
I'm sure my assists will go up because those are some knock-down shooters that I'm going to be playing with now. I'm just excited, just to be able to play with those great players, Seimone Augustus, an Olympian, it's going to be a learning experience.

Hoophead: Can you talk about the UConn season and how fulfilling it was to win the championship as a senior after getting knocked out of the Tournament in each of your first three seasons? Was it a relief or something you expected?
Renee: I definitely didn't expect it. It was a goal of ours, so we wanted to achieve that goal, but it's not like it ever crossed my mind that we're definitely going to win. And even right up until the buzzer went off in the [championship] game I couldn't believe it. Like, are we really national champions? I was just running around screaming. It was just a great feeling because we worked so hard at it and it took me four years to get it.

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Hoophead: What did Coach Auriemma say to you guys before the national championship game? Being undefeated, obviously, you were heavily favored. And everyone knows what happened to the New England Patriots a couple of years ago. Was that mentioned?
Renee: No, he pretty much said to treat it like a regular game that you've played all season. He said that was going to be hard to do, but he told us to do what we've been doing all season.

Hoophead: What's the biggest thing you learned during your senior season?
Perseverance. All the three years that I lost [in the NCAA Tournament] leading up to this year made myself and my teammates who we are and helped us achieve this goal.

Hoophead: Is there a WNBA player that you looked up to when you were growing up?
Renee:  [Point guard] Ticha Penicheiro [of the Sacramento Monarchs]. I really liked her game when I was younger, the way she distributed the ball. She did it in a smooth way, and I liked the way she played.

Hoophead: What do you expect to bring to the Lynx this season?
Renee: Energy, because I'm always upbeat. I want to go in and fit in with the team first and then work on everything else.