The axiom “What doesn’t kill your spirit will make you stronger” certainly fits for your Indiana Fever, as they have worked their way through some early obstacles and begun to show the tenacity that led them to the doorstep of a WNBA championship last year.
With their starters playing overseas and missing the entire preseason, the girls of summer were at a disadvantage right off the bat in terms of training and practicing together prior to the regular season opener. Fatigue and a lack of continuity showed as they dropped the first two games of the season in a fashion that indicated a lack of effort in terms of team defense and overall hustle. But once the jet lag subsided for those rejoining the fray from afar, this team found the magic defensively and has flexed its collective muscles, reminding us of just how effective they can be when firing on all cylinders.
The results are familiar to those who followed this splendid group of young ladies last year, as they have now won five of their last six games and appear to be everything we certainly expected from a team that is this deep with experienced players.
As you might expect, the scoring parade is being led by none other than perennial all-pro Tamika Catchings, who is averaging 17 points a game to go along with six rebounds.
Fellow all-star Katie Douglas is contributing 12 points per game herself, and newly acquired Shavonte Zellous is adding 11 points per contest off of the bench to give the Fever excellent balance.
Briann January and Eshaya Murphy have been equally impressive and have given Coach Lin Dunn a number of offensive weapons to explore and in the process, keep her troops fresh for the fourth quarter by spreading the minutes around. While they are playing limited minutes, Tully Bevilaqua and Jessica Davenport have also distinguished themselves nicely in a deep rotation that allows the coaching staff to throw multiple combinations at their opponents while playing a brand of basketball that emphasizes an up-tempo style and pressures the ball defensively.
With all the pieces in place, this group has to be considered a favorite to again capture the Eastern Conference and set their collective sights on the WNBA crown. Barring injuries, I think it will occur and in the process, give this team an opportunity to avenge what had to be a most bitter pill in the final game of the league championship playoffs last season. Get out and support them and experience the excitement of Fever basketball.
Notes: The Fever recorded their largest margin of victory in franchise history when they defeated Minnesota recently by the score of 89-51. The Fever placed four players in double figures in the romp.
Veteran center Tammy Sutton-Brown offers opinions and thoughts through her blog, which can be accessed at the Fever Web site. Check it out at wnba.com/fever.
Fever play-by-play announcer Chris Denari, who is also a mainstay on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway radio network, recently had his work cut out for him. After calling the May 29 Fever game in Tulsa, Okla., Denari hopped into a car at just after 11p.m. and drove all night with Fever Assistant Coach Gary Kloppenburg and Fever Public Relations Director Kevin Messenger to get back to Indianapolis in time for his announcer duties at the Indianapolis 500 the next day.
No speeding tickets were received and Denari sounded stellar that day at IMS. Still, how do you cover 650 miles that quickly?
I’m thinking they may have eclipsed the posted speed limit along the way. Nice job Chris, and you might want to consider driving the pace car next year at the 500 with that kind of speed.
The Fever travel to Connecticut to play the Sun on June 11.
You can listen to the game at 7 p.m. on The Fan, WFNI-AM (1070).
The Fever return home on June 13 to again play Connecticut, this time at Conseco Fieldhouse at 7 p.m.
Tickets are still available at the Conseco Fieldhouse box office or at Ticketmaster.com.
Danny Bridges, who thinks this may indeed be the year the Fever win it all, can be reached at (317) 578-1780 or Bridgeshd@aol.com.