Q & A: Montgomery's Slam-Dunk Return to Connecticut

In the 2008-2009 season, Renee Montgomery led the Huskies to their sixth national title and their third perfect season. In April, she was selected by the Minnesota Lynx as the fourth overall pick in the WNBA draft. This past weekend, Montgomery made her first trip back to Connecticut for the Sun game. We caught up with the former UConn star to find out what life’s been like since going pro.

NBCConnecticut.com: Renee, how does it feel being back in Connecticut? Is it bittersweet?
Renee Montgomery: No, it’s sweet. I mean we are playing a Connecticut team, but it’s not like I’m playing the Huskies. So, it’s a good thing. I’m just happy to see friends and family that I haven’t seen since I’ve graduated. 

NBCConnecticut: Have you gotten a chance to see any of the UConn girls?
RM: Yup. I saw some of my teammates. They came up yesterday. I saw Matt Gady, our head manager last year. But yeah, I’ve seen some people and more are coming today. It’s exciting.

NBCConnecticut: The month of April was really hectic for you. You guys won the national championship, you were home for a day, then off to the WNBA draft the following day. How have you been adjusting to things in Minnesota?
RM: It’s been difficult. But it’s been a fun learning process because my team is young. So, they went through it last year and they’re just telling me things that are going to happen and helping me out along the way. So it’s exciting. 

NBCConnecticut: What have been some of the major adjustments/challenges you’ve faced?
RM: Losing. I haven’t adjusted yet. It’s just so hard. For instance, we play Connecticut today and New York tomorrow. Hypothetically, if we were to lose today, I’d have to get over it quick and get ready for the game tomorrow. That’s just something I’m working on.

NBCConnecticut: Now talk about your team. How are the Lynx compared to the Huskies? Similar to college?
RM: It is. That’s why it’s exciting because I got lucky. I think we’re the youngest team in the league. There’s a lot of people that got out of college, like one or two years ago. They still have the same college enthusiasm that I have. We all chill together because we’re all used to the college situation. 

NBCConnecticut: How is it playing with Charde Houston?
RM: Ohh [pause] she helps me out a lot. A lot. On our team she’s a vet, so she’s always telling me things so I don’t look crazy as a rookie. So it helps. 

NBCConnecticut:  How are your coaches? How do they compare to Geno Auriemma?
RM:  Well, as you can see, they’re shooting half court shots right now, and it’s ten minutes after shoot around. They’re still trying to make one. They’re a little less serious than he is, but no, they’re great. You know, all coaches have something in common where they all have this driving force to win. So, that’s the way they’re similar. But I don’t think anyone can compare to my coach. 

NBCConnecticut: What’s the training been like? Is it a lot different from college, intensity-wise?
RM:  It is. The practices are less intense. You play three games in a week, sometimes four. So you can’t practice for three hours and play four games that week. It’s different because you have to manage your body more.

NBCConnecticut: I saw on the Lynx website that you took part in a fashion show. You were all decked out! How was that?
RM: Haha. Yeah it was nice. You know I was delusional for a second. I actually thought I was a model. I was hoping maybe somebody was out there scouting me, you never know. But that’s the good thing about basketball. It just let’s you do things that you might have never done otherwise.

NBCConnecticut: Back to the transition from college to pros. You played for the top college team in the country. Now you’re on a team that is struggling to make the play-offs. Is that hard?
RM: It is. It’s difficult because you’re used to a certain standard and you’re used to being a certain way. Just playing a certain level. It’s hard when you’re team isn’t successful. We have had a tough time, but the good thing is we still have a chance to make the playoffs.

NBCConnecticut: I heard you got a dish named after you at Geno’s restaurant!
RM:  Haha yeah. It’s the fried shrimp dish.

NBCConnecticut: What’s it called?
RM: The Renee Montgomery, I’m assuming. They didn’t get too creative with it haha. But it’s the meal I always get when I’m here. 

NBCConnecticut:  Do you ever just stop and think that this experience is so surreal? That you’ve had the opportunity to go pro?
RM: Every two weeks when I get the paycheck, I think wow, I’m actually getting paid to do this. It’s weird for me but it’s great. 

NBCConnecticut:  It’s a good feeling. You ended your career on such a great note, and I’m sure it’s going to be exciting to come back and see all of your fans.
RM: There is nothing like UConn nation. That’s another reason it’s exciting to come back. In Minnesota, our fan base is growing, but nothing compares to the Connecticut fan base. So it’s nice to come back here.

NBCConnecticut: What would you be doing right now if you weren’t playing in the WNBA?
RM: I’d be working on opening a day care probably, or I’d be trying to do some broadcasting with ESPN. 

NBCConnecticut: One last thing. I know your UConn teammates are going to miss you this year. What’s the one thing you would say to them about the upcoming season?
RM: Haha. 40-0. Nothing less than that.

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