2005 In Review:
What Went Right?
Tamika Catchings put together another stellar season for the Fever, leading her team in scoring (14.7 ppg), rebounding (7.8), assists (4.2) and steals (2.65). How many players at any level of basketball can collect eight steals in a game (vs. Connecticut 7/13/05), pull down 16 rebounds (twice) and make 15-of-17 free throws (vs. Phoenix 5/24/05), all in one season?
2005 WNBA Draft No. 2 overall selection Tan White ranked in the top five among rookies in scoring, assists, steals, free throw percentage and 3-pt field goal percentage. The scoring guard posted 13.0 points per game in easily her best month of the season, June.
Tully Bevilaqua, an offseason acquisition fresh of a championship in Seattle, proved to be just as feisty of a defensive presence as a starter in Indiana than she was as a spot duty player with the Storm. Bevilaqua's motor never stopped running, earning her a spot on the WNBA's All-Defense First Team.
What Went Wrong?
The Fever lacked consistent support for Catchings in scoring and rebounding departments. As a result, Catchings shot below 40 percent from the field for the second year in a row, and the team shot 40 percent compared to their opponents' 43.1 percent. Only one other player besides Catchings had the one-on-one scoring skills to crack double-digits in points on the season -- Kelly Miller.
Indiana's lack of a physical presence also may have been what
led to their dismissal in the East Finals against a tougher Connecticut team.
Deficiencies in the three-point shooting and depth categories hurt the Fever's
cause as well.
Looking Ahead To 2006:
The Fever have been busy this offseason – probably the most active in the league – and hope their acquisitions pan out. It sure looks like they will be a better perimeter team next season. Miller was traded for guard Anna DeForge, a three-point shooter who can put points on the board. The recent signing of Tamika Whitmore also bolsters the frontline. Though she has only averaged double figures in scoring in one of her seven seasons, her 32 playoff games far exceed any other Fever player, and her presence will offset the loss of Natalie Williams to retirement. After spending her entire career in New York, she was a starter with the Los Angeles Sparks last season.
After a non-descript two seasons in Charlotte and Sacramento, free agent Olympia Scott returned to the team that provided her with a starting role and the opportunity to post a career-high in points (9.4 ppg) just three seasons ago. Assumed to be healthy for the first time in three years, she hopes to make the Fever more athletic in the post. Also signing was seven-year veteran shooter Charlotte Smith, a starter five seasons of her career, and former Liberty reserves Linda Frölich and K.B. Sharp, who have starred overseas the past two years. Their additions, plus White and Hoffman, make the Fever virtually two-deep at every position.
Indiana dealt shot-blocker Kelly Schumacher along with the 12th pick in the 2006 Draft to the New York Liberty in exchange for the 9th pick in the 2006 Draft.
Scheduled to be in Indiana's training camp this year is Lenae Williams, who leads all EuroCup scorers with 21.3 points per game this winter, and Nikita Bell, the 2005 ACC Defensive Player of the Year.
Questions still remain as to where this team will get interior scoring outside of Catchings.