It's a gift and a curse to be drafted by the defending WNBA champion Minnesota Lynx. On one hand you're going to a team that's head and shoulders above the rest of the league. On the other hand the team is so stacked with talent you aren't likely to see much playing time.
That's the situation that Tricia Liston has found herself in. A star at Duke, Liston was drafted 12th overall by the Minnesota Lynx in the 2014 WNBA Draft. In her senior season at Duke Liston averaged 17.2 points per game while shooting 52% from the field and 48% from three-point range.
Liston has played a total of five minutes in two games this season as a member of the Lynx. That's all right with the Chicago native because she sees the big picture. Her skillset will be invaluable to Minnesota down the line. With a trio of players who command double-teams in Maya Moore, Lindsay Whalen, and Seimone Augustus, a sharp shooter is exactly what the Lynx need on their roster.
During Minnesota's recent road game in Chicago Swish Appeal spoke to Tricia Liston about her memories of being a high school hoops star in Chicago, making the transition from college to the pros, and being drafted by the WNBA champion Minnesota Lynx.
Swish Appeal: What did it feel like to hear your name called on draft night?
Tricia Liston: It was surreal. I was really excited. I was at home with my entire family and hearing my named called by the defending champions was a great feeling.
SA: How difficult has it been to go from being the primary player in college to coming to a championship team and having a limited role?
TL: It's a lot different but in a lot of aspects it's the same. Coming into Duke my freshman year I kind of felt like I was in the same position now. Whenever you come to a new team you've kind of got to get used to it and figure out what your role is and continue to get better and hope that that role grows over the years so that's what I'm trying to do.
SA: Did Coach Reeve tell you what your role is on this team?
TL: I think it's just to be energy on the bench, when I'm called be ready to go, go hard in practice and challenge the starters and make them better too. It's definitely a learning experience to get the most from the veterans I'm playing with and learn from Coach Reeve also.
SA: How does it feel to be back in Chicago?
TL: It's so nice. A lot of family and friends will be at the game today so I'm excited to be back in Chicago.
SA: What's your best memory from playing at Fenwick High School?
TL: One of them would be my freshman year winning the State title. It was such a fun experience and a fun game when I was a freshman playing with four great seniors - it was a good time.
SA: What advice have the veterans given you about transitioning to the pros?
TL: Just to stay working hard. I think they set a good example on the court. You have people like Maya Moore, Seimone Augustus, and Lindsay Whalen going 100% in practice and killing it. They set a great example on the court so I've learned to just always give it all you've got in practice and in games. I try to learn the most from them. Their actions speak louder than their words but they back it up too. It's really cool to be able to learn from the vets.
SA: How crazy has it been to be able to watch Maya score the way she's been scoring lately?
TL: It's crazy. Sitting on the bench when she shoots some shots we're like, "How did she make that?" She's a phenomenal player. She's in great shape. She can play 40 minutes for us and that's what she does. She's a great scorer. It's really fun to watch her and be able to compete with her in practices too.
SA: Do you have any rookie duties?
TL: Well we had to dress up at the beginning of the year and before the games we have to dance.
SA: Really? What kind of dancing?
TL: Yep. Just before when we're all in the locker room trying to get excited and hype one of the rookies has to dance each game inside the circle, whatever you wanna do.
SA: That's painful isn't it?
SA: Are you a good dancer?
TL: No [laughs].
SA: What part of your game needs the most work?
TL: I just think catching up to the physicality and speed of the game. On defense would probably be my biggest need for improvement right now.
SA: What are your personal goals for your rookie season?
TL: Just to grow and develop as a player overall - offense, defense and learning the concepts of the team. Just being able to give it all I've got and learn the most that I can from the vets. We have a lot of great ones who set a great example so just taking it all in this year and getting ready to get better.
SA: Has it hit you that you could possibly be playing for a championship this year?
TL: Yeah, I think from the first day in training camp I knew that was a possibility. Seeing the ring ceremony was something that was really motivational. It's definitely on the mind a lot.