Season Preview 2011: Indiana Fever

Tamika Catchings, Tangela Smith and Katie Douglas will lead the Fever in 2011
Ron Hoskins/NBAE/Getty Images

Season Outlook

The Indiana Fever headed into the 2010 season with high hopes of making a repeat Finals run. Needless to say, that was not the case.

Although the Fever managed to stretch the first round’s best-of-three series to a third game against the Liberty, an early exit from the playoffs sent the Fever to an earlier offseason than they anticipated. But from that early dismissal came an opportunity to regroup, rebuild and reform an attack for 2011.

The offseason acquisition of Tangela Smith, signed as a free agent back on Feb. 2, gives the Fever additional height and durability in the low block. The 6-foot-3 center averaged 9.2 points and 5.2 rebounds per game for the Mercury last season and will look to adapt to the Fever’s system early on. Admittedly, it’s a bit slower than the Mercury’s heralded run-and-gun style, but if the 2009 series between Phoenix and Indiana proved anything, it’s that the Fever is capable of running with the fastest of them. Smith, the league’s all-time leader in career games played with 415, enters her 14th season in the league and reunites her with Catchings for the first time since AAU ball in the greater Chicago area.

Outside of Smith coming on board, the Fever also waved good-bye to a few starters as well. Forward Ebony Hoffman ended her seven year run with Indiana when she signed with Los Angeles on Feb. 2. In early March, defense-first guard Tully Bevilaqua also left Indiana for a deal with the San Antonio Silver Stars. Just like that, two pieces of Indy’s 2009 run were out of town.

But perhaps that’s just what the Fever needed. A few new faces provide the team with a fresh start and plenty of options in training camp. Ebony Hoffman even mentioned the disappointment in not making a return to the Finals in her April 22 podcast with, suggesting that even though she had a fantastic career with the Fever, the story goes on and Indy will continue to do well without her.

That’s not to say that it won’t be tough, as Tom Reidman pointed out on With four-time Defensive Player of the Year Tamika Catchings leading the way alongside Katie Douglas, Smith, Briann January and Tammy Sutton-Brown, the projected starting five is more or less set. In the absence of Bevilaqua, January remains the top runner for the starting point guard role with rookie Jeanette Pohlen and last year’s acquisition Shavonte Zellous aiming to provide sparks off the bench.

It’s a new start for the Fever in 2011, but the goal remains the same: Win. They’ll look to do just that starting June 4 as they tip off against the Chicago Sky.

Frank Della Femina

Player on the Spot

With Tully Bevilaqua signing with San Antonio during the offseason, the Indiana Fever had an apparent opening at the starting point guard spot. The obvious solution would be Briann January, the third-year guard out of Arizona State. While her growth as a starter behind Bevilaqua could best be defined as slow and steady (she started a total of 11 games in two seasons), the Fever may now be in a position to give January the full-time promotion.

“I’ve always dreamed about being a starting point guard in the WNBA, and of course no position is given and I know I need to come in, step up and earn that position,” January said in an offseason interview, later adding that she’s excited to have the opportunity. That excitement will be a fitting addition to the Fever and a tremendous chance for January to show her growth as a player.

Frank Della Femina

Projected Lineup

G.Briann January
G.Katie Douglas
F.Tamika Catchings
F.Tangela Smith
C.Tammy Sutton-Brown

Players Added

G.Shannon Bobbitt
F.Shyra Ely
G.Erin Phillips
G.Jeanette Pohlen
C.Tangela Smith

Players Lost

F.Tully Bevilaqua
F.Joy Cheek
F.Ebony Hoffman
G.Jene Morris

2008 Leaders

PPGTamika Catchings18.2
RPGTamika Catchings7.1
APGTamika Catchings4.0
SPGTamika Catchings2.26
BPGTammy Sutton-Brown1.62

Team Stats

Points Scored78.3(7th)
Points Allowed74.1(3rd)
Field-Goal Percentage.438(8th)
Opponents’ FG%.416(2nd)