One game. The Indiana Fever closed out 2011 one game short of their goal to reach the WNBA Finals, falling to the two-time Eastern Conference champion Atlanta Dream. According to Fever Head Coach Lin Dunn, this should serve as a powerful motivator heading into 2012, with that same goal in mind.
“We were close, we almost got there,” said Dunn. “And if we can stay healthy – and we’re healthier now than we were by the end of that series with Atlanta – and if we can improve on rebounding the ball, there isn’t any reason we can't get the Finals and make a run at the championship our fans have been waiting for.”
Indiana is indeed healthier as 2011 WNBA Most Valuable Player Tamika Catchings was slowed by injury by the end of the Fever-Dream Eastern Conference Finals. As has come to be expected, Catchings toughed out the pain and played throughout the series, but was not 100 percent. The undisputed Indiana team leader has fully recovered on the eve of the 2012 WNBA regular season tip-off and is ready to go. Additionally, guard Briann January is back with the squad after undergoing knee surgery. She played in her first post-surgery game before her home crowd on May 9 in a preseason victory over the San Antonio Silver Stars and reported no ill-effects.
With things shored up on the health front, the Fever will continue to work on improving their rebounding and overall defensive game. Jessica Davenport and Tammy Sutton-Brown are the primary post players for Indiana while Dunn and her staff selected Sasha Goodlett out of Georgia Tech to add some youth in the post.
Dunn is also thinking about employing Catchings more in the post where necessary.
“Tamika is so versatile she can play any position on the floor,” said Dunn. “Her perimeter defense is the best in the league, that’s something we all know, but she is such a strong rebounder that when the opportunity presents itself, we may get her down there where she can help us there, get possession of the ball, and I’m sure she can do that.”
And if she and her teammates stay healthy, they may not fall one game short in 2012.
High-energy point guard Briann January appears fully recovered from ACL surgery and the return of the 5-foot-8 former Arizona State University standout could be just the spark the Fever need in 2012.
January had nine points, three assists and two steals in her first game back at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in the preseason win over San Antonio.
“Oh my goodness, it felt so good to be here on our home court,” January told Tom Reitmann of FeverBasketball.com. “Just seeing some familiar fans out there was great.”
The Fever and their fans will think it's great to see January pushing the ball for Indiana in 2012.
– Jim Reilly, WNBA.com