The buzz word around the Indiana Fever heading into the second half of the 2012 WNBA season is "rebound."
On an individual level, 2011 WNBA Most Valuable Player Tamika Catchings will need to rebound quickly from an emotional Olympic run, where the Team USA tri-captain helped land a unprecedented fifth straight Olympic women's team gold medal. While obviously a positive experience -- for Catchings, the Fever and Americans -- the physical and mental exertion required of an Olympian may take at least a short-term toll on Indiana's pursuit of WNBA glory.
On the team level, Head Coach Lin Dunn has made little attempt to hide her frustration with Indiana's rebounding prowess in the first half of the season.
"I don't think there is any doubt we were disappointed with our rebounding all of the first part of the season, we're really going to try to be a better rebounding team, and that's something we've paid alot of attention to," said Dunn on Feverbasketball.com. "We know that everybody in this league rebounds well, so we've got to step up and instead of being last in rebounding, we've got to be in the middle of the pack."
With the "rebound" issue addressed, Dunn transitioned into positive mode with regard to the second half.
"We've had this month-long Olympic break. You try to get better, you try to tweak some things, you try to get rested and healthy," said Dunn. "And of course, we've got to mesh Catch back in after being gone and winning her gold medal. But we're excited to get started. We're tired of playing each other. So we're looking forward to kicking off this second season."
Regarding getting Catchings back into the flow, the three-time Olympic Gold Medalist can't wait to get started.
"I feel good. I missed my [Fever] teammates. I had a great time with those ladies [The USA team], but there's something about having your home and your team," Catchings said via post-Olympic press conference, where she echoed Dunn's sentiments about team defense and rebounding. "It's the simple box-outs. It's the simple screens and using those screens. It's switching on screens when you're on defense. It's all little stuff that adds up to big things when you look at wins and losses. I know that's something they've been focusing on since I've been gone."
After returning from knee surgery last year, January has averaged 10.5 points and a team-high 3.6 assists in just over 28 minutes per game for Indiana.
The third-year pro out of Arizona State sets the offensive tone for the Fever, and her tenacity, vision and athleticism will be counted on as Indiana's hold on second place in the Eastern Conference -- with Atlanta and Chicago not far behind -- is a decent starting point for a potential playoff run.
– Jim Reilly, WNBA.com