2013 WNBA Season Previews: Indiana Fever

 

PG: Briann January/Erin Phillips

SG: Shavonte Zellous/Jeanette Pohlen/Layshia Clarendon

SF: Katie Douglas

PF: Tamika Catchings

C: Erlana Larkins/Jessica Davenport

(plus two of SF Karima Christmas, PF Jessica Breland and C Sasha Goodlett, pending a final cut. All three may start the season in Indiana if a hardship exception is granted due to injuries)

 

Significant gains: Confidence and rings from winning a championship

Significant losses: The monkey off their back from finally winning that championship. Oh, and Tammy Sutton-Brown’s gone.

 

Fever head coach Lin Dunn and general manager Kelly Krauskopf approached this offseason with a pretty straightforward mindset – when you’ve found something that works, don’t screw it up. After a solid regular season, Indiana kicked it up a notch in the playoffs and rode the wave to their first WNBA championship. So they re-signed every significant piece that was out of contract – Tamika Catchings, Briann January, Shavonte Zellous, Erlana Larkins – and kept their nucleus intact. Smallball won them a title in 2012, and they’ll be riding it again in 2013.

 

Catchings remains the heart and soul of this franchise, and one of the best players on the planet. The move to play her full-time at power forward last season looked risky initially, but she took it in stride and the benefits ultimately outweighed the drawbacks. She had more space to attack, created immediate mismatches against virtually every opponent, and her own strength and activity allowed her to stand up to whoever she had to guard defensively. They were a poor rebounding team all season as a result, but they overcame that in other areas. The Fever jumped to another level in the playoffs when Erlana Larkins moved into the starting lineup at center, creating an even more undersized group than they’d been working with all season. It leaves them short of inches, but the energy, mobility and effort made up for it, and the collective team defense worked like a charm. The question is whether what worked for a playoff series or two can succeed through the course of an arduous regular season. If they need to go big with a more traditional post, Jessica Davenport is still around, and Sasha Goodlett may have more to offer in her second year (if she makes the roster). With Catchings at the core of it all, they’ll probably work it out.

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2012 In-Depth WNBA Season Preview: Indiana Fever

PG: Briann January/Erin Phillips

SG: Shavonte Zellous/Jeanette Pohlen

SF: Katie Douglas/Roneeka Hodges

PF: Tamika Catchings/Erlana Larkins

C: Tammy Sutton-Brown/Jessica Davenport/Sasha Goodlett

Significant additions: January (returning from a serious knee injury after missing most of last season), Hodges (trade with San Antonio), Larkins (free agent after being out of league since 2009), Goodlett (college draft)

Significant losses: Tangela Smith (trade with San Antonio), Shyra Ely (injured), Shannon Bobbitt (cut)

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Yes, as you can see from the squad listing above, I’ve bowed to popular opinion and indications from the Fever themselves and moved Tamika Catchings to the 4. I hate it, and we’ll examine why below, but it does at least add an interesting wrinkle to the outlook for this Fever squad. It’s pretty close to being the same bunch as last year, who sometimes seemed a little old, a little slow, and a little thin once you looked past Catchings and Katie Douglas. But that team still went to a deciding game in the Eastern Conference Finals, and barring an injury to Catchings might’ve gone further. With what looks like a shift in position for their best players, are they primed to adapt and improve, or take a step in the wrong direction? Continue reading

WNBA Offseason Overview/Preseason Preview: Indiana Fever

Current roster certainties and virtual certainties:

PG: Briann January/Erin Phillips

SG: Shavonte Zellous/Jeanette Pohlen

SF: Katie Douglas

PF: Tamika Catchings

C: Tammy Sutton-Brown/Jessica Davenport

OR

PG: Briann January/Erin Phillips

SG: Katie Douglas/Shavonte Zellous

SF: Tamika Catchings/Jeanette Pohlen

PF: ?

C: Tammy Sutton-Brown/Jessica Davenport

Fighting for the remaining three spots: Shyra Ely, Roneeka Hodges, Shannon Bobbitt, Sasha Goodlett, Erlana Larkins, La’Tangela Atkinson

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For a team that made very few changes during the offseason, there are still several question marks heading into training camp for the Fever. They kept point guard Erin Phillips by matching a restricted free agent offer sheet she signed with Phoenix, then traded last year’s starting power forward Tangela Smith to San Antonio for Roneeka Hodges. That was about it for meaningful offseason activity. Smith had a thoroughly terrible season in Indiana last year, and they traded her away to dump what had quickly become an ugly-looking contract, but it leaves a hole. Continue reading

WNBAlien 2011 Previews: Indiana Fever

PG: Briann January/Erin Phillips/Shannon Bobbitt

SG: Katie Douglas/Shavonte Zellous/Jeanette Pohlen

SF: Tamika Catchings/Shyra Ely

PF: Tangela Smith

C: Tammy Sutton-Brown/Jessica Davenport

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Head coach: Lin Dunn

Significant additions: Smith and Phillips. If Ely and/or Pohlen prove significant, it’s a bonus.

Significant losses: Ebony Hoffman, Tully Bevilaqua

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Here we have another team that hasn’t changed much since last year, but with a couple of key differences from Connecticut’s stand-pat plan. Firstly, they were 21-13 last year, which makes sticking with what you’ve got far more palatable. Secondly, they’ve got Tamika Catchings, and that’s always a good base to start from. Continue reading