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Nadirah McKenith discusses role with Minnesota Lynx, changes in Big East women's basketball

After spending her rookie year with the Washington Mystics, Nadirah McKenith is transitioning into a new role with the Minnesota Lynx. Swish Appeal caught up with her recently to discuss her new role, learning from one of the game's all-time great point guards, and

Photo by Ray Floriani.

NEW YORK CITY- She knows her time is coming.

She listens, learns and patiently bides her time.

Nadirah McKenith spent her rookie season with the Washington Mystics last season. The former St. John's standout was waived by the Mystics on May 15 of this year. A little over a month later, June 24 to be exact, the 5-7 guard signed a one year contract with the Minnesota Lynx.

"This is a great opportunity," McKenith said in the Minnesota locker room following the Lynx 87-80 loss to the New York Liberty on Sunday. "This is a great organization and team. I'm just trying to get in and learn the system."

Young players need a mentor to show them, encourage and counsel when needed. McKenith is fortunate to have a great one in Lindsay Whalen.

"She (Whalen) has given me so much help," McKenith said. "She encourages you to go with the flow. Know your role and do the job."

On a veteran team, her role is that of a backup. She did not see action against the Liberty and has appeared in only one of the four games the team has played since she signed on.

"I have to stay patient," she admits. "But be ready when I get the call."

McKenith feels she can provide tangible contributions.

"I can help when we want to establish defensive pressure," she said. "On offense, I can push the ball for a faster tempo."

Her St. John's playing days ended in March 2013. There were a number of accomplishments and fine memories from the days on Utopia Parkway. No surprise, she remains close to the alma mater.

"I stay in touch with coach T (head coach Joe Tartamella) and coach (assistant Priscilla) Edwards," she said. "I stay in contact almost daily with Aliyyah Handford (a junior guard for the Red Storm). She is like a sister to me. I remind Aliyyah , her time is coming just keep working."

Discussing the college game, McKenith agreed the exit of Fortune 500 programs like UCONN, Louisville and Notre Dame impact the Big East. Still, it is a competitive league.

"There are good programs in the league (Big East)," McKenith said. "Now you have one , Seton Hall, that struggled and is turning things around. That only makes the league stronger in the long run."

Nadirah McKenith concentrates these days on how she can fit in and contribute to a strong Minnesota Lynx ballclub. Still, to little surprise, her St. John's and Big East memories run deep.