After the 2009 runner-up finish against the Phoenix Mercury in the WNBA Finals, 2010 preseason media headlines begged to ask: Can the Indiana make a repeat run and reverse the outcome?
Unfortunately for the Fever and its fans, that was not the case. Indiana entered the postseason at the No. 3 seed in the East before watching its championship run end abruptly in the first round against New York.
With an offseason to rest up and improve, the Fever will start fresh in 2011 with a few new faces from free agency and the upcoming draft. Focusing on the development of last year’s selections may also give Indy a chance to grow as well.
Jene Morris, selected 11th overall in 2010, came into Fever training camp last season with a hamstring injury that lingered from her college days at San Diego State. While anxious to see what the team’s first round draft pick could do in camp, coach Lin Dunn was not about ready to push Morris through any sort of activity that might re-aggravate or, potentially, worsen the injury. As a result, Morris missed out on participating in all of training camp.
“When you’re a rookie, training camp is hard enough and overwhelming enough when you’re healthy,” said Dunn. “But when you’re out, it really set her back. I don’t think she ever caught up or had a full grasp of everything we were doing because she missed so much.”
Averaging eight minutes and 2.9 points per game in 25 games is not ideal for any rookie looking to gain valuable experience. Playing behind players like Katie Douglas, Briann January and Shavonte Zellous didn’t exactly create opportunities either, but thankfully for Dunn and the Fever, the offseason has been good to Morris. She continues to play alongside January for Israel’s Raanana Hertzeliya, and Dunn is confident Morris will be more prepared for a full Indiana training camp.
“We think Jene has tremendous potential,” said Dunn. “She has great size, tremendous speed, she can shoot the three, she loves to run the floor – she really fits in to what we want to do, but she has to learn our plays and defensive system through repetition.”
Joy Cheek, who went 35th overall to the Fever in 2010, is another player who will likely be fighting for a spot on the upcoming season’s roster. Dunn praised the 6-foot-1 forward’s tough-nosed defense and knack for picking up plays as positive points heading into training camp.
Truth is, it’s going to take more than just hearing a name announced at ESPN Studios on April 11 to crack this team’s roster. Versatility around the perimeter is likely the area of focus for the Fever as Dunn and company head into the Draft with the ninth overall pick, but priorities could change depending on the draft board.
“It’s safe to say that we’re looking perimeter first,” Dunn said. “However, if the players that we really like are gone and we get to the ninth pick, then we’re going to take the best player available, whether it’s a post or perimeter.”
With two returning rookies and a roster that consists of Tamika Catchings, Jessica Davenport, Katie Douglas, January (likely competing for the starting point-guard role), the newly-acquired Tangela Smith and the aforementioned Zellous, the challenges met in camp will ultimately seal Dunn’s mind on who stays, and who goes.
“Someone can get cut that can make a team, it just depends on the needs of a team,” said Dunn. “I’m excited about the competitiveness of this upcoming training camp. I think when you’ve got 13 people that could make a roster and there’s only 11, that bodes well for a very competitive training camp.”
-- Frank Della Femina, WNBA.com
Recent Draft History
|11. Jene Morris||6. Briann January||26. Khadijah Whittington|
|23. Armelie Lumanu||19. Christina Wirth|
|35. Joy Cheek||32. Danielle Campbell|