The 16th WNBA season opens this weekend and the Fever open their 13th season at home against the Atlanta Dream, who lost in the finals last year to Minnesota.
Coach Lin Dunn has put together a roster to her liking and is ready to see them face-off against another team. Indiana played a home-and-home pair of preseason games against San Antonio and won them both.
Led by Tamika Catchings and Katie Douglas, the Fever are still chasing their first WNBA title. Can this be the year? Absolutely.
They are a strong, veteran group that have to be comfortable with their style and what they’re trying to do on the court. They have leadership, speed, height and scoring. In the East, right now, they are sitting very pretty.
The Fever’s roster is settled, for now. It wouldn’t surprise me to see him make a move after a month or so. They are always willing to listen and an attracted deal may come their way. Only 11 players are allowed on the roster, making decisions even more challenging.
-In the offseason, Indiana traded Tangela Smith to San Antonio for Roneeka Hodges. Hodges shot 40-perfect from outside last year and the move allows Catchings to move to the post.
-Shyra Ely-Gash tore her ACL two day before training camp began.
-Sasha Goodlet was the team’s first-round pick and early indications have been very positive. They hope she can come off the bench and make contributions in her rookie year.
-Erlana Larkins was added to the training camp roster and stuck. She’s an active, energetic player that’s willing to do what the team needs. She was a former first-round pick by the New York Liberty in 2008 but failed to make a roster last season.
-On the coaching side, Mickie DeMoss replaced Gary Kloppenburg who was named the Tulsa Shock head coach.
No more dominance
The Dream swept the regular-season series, winning all four games. There were matchup problems and something with Atlanta that Indiana struggled with. Angel McCoughtry is their star but she also can be a head-case, letting her attitude get the best of her. Atlanta also knocked the Fever out of the playoffs in 2011, beating them in the Eastern Conference Finals 2 to 1. There will certainly be a revenge factor, shall we say.
Coach on the floor returns
Briann January missed most of last season with a torn ACL. She is back and feeling very strong. In her first game back, a preseason battle in San Antonio, she connected on the game-winning shot to give Indiana the win. I’m a big believe in the point guard position because it is the coach on the floor. She’s a tough, speedy guard that you don’t want to see at either in. She’s been working on her jump shot and opposing players don’t want Bri to guard them. Having her back will be huge.
Erin Phillips filled in nicely for January while she was out. That additional time on the court should pay dividends this year. She, too, is a feisty defender and you will often see her penetrating into the lane. Quite a duo the Fever have at point.
Being another Olympic year, the season is shuffled once again. The season will take a break in early August and will finish well into October. Tamika Catchings will play for the Olympic squad, the third of her career. She already has gold medals from 2004 and 2008. This schedule is very different and some teams may get out of rhythm. It’s definitely a storyline to follow.