Jr. Fever Event Brings Fun and Fundamentals

July 24, 2008 | Robert Ausdenmoore

The Indiana Fever welcomed young female basketball players from the area to Conseco Fieldhouse on July 27 to not only see what the Hoosier state’s favorite sport is like at a professional level, but to borrow the Fever’s court and post player coach for a few hours.

Two local girl’s AAU teams, the Indiana Central Elite and the Franklin Lady Cubs, were invited to Conseco Fieldhouse in the early afternoon of Thursday, July 27, to participate in a Jr. Fever “Court of Dreams” clinic with Indiana Fever assistant coach Jim Lewis.

The teams, nine years old or younger and fourteen years old or younger, respectively, were each allowed to conduct their standard practice rituals with their own coaches on the main court at Conseco Fieldhouse.

As their usual rounds of drills and scrimmages ended, Jim Lewis met the girls at half-court to talk to them about the importance of playing fundamental basketball as a team and the success that can come from doing so.

“No one is above the team,” Lewis began. “Regardless of where you are in basketball now, there is a role for you with your teammates.”

He continued to explain that every person is different in terms of their strengths and weaknesses, but that individual talents need to be implemented into a whole.

“To do well out there you have to incorporate your skills and personality into the team,” he said. “Even disciplines you learn in individual sports can help you do this.”

Lewis illustrated his point by alluding to Fever veteran and US Olympic Team member Tamika Catchings. Despite her All-Star status and indisputable individual talent, Lewis said that there is no way Catchings could win games if she was alone out there.

In addition to team unity, Lewis stressed the necessity of developing fundamentals and always working to improve them.

“If you came to a Fever practice, you might ask yourself ‘this is what the pros do?’” he said, regarding the team’s concentrated drilling on basketball basics. “But a lot of what (the Fever) work on are things you do at practice today.”

To put his philosophy in action, Coach Lewis then split the girls up into groups of two and conducted a series of dribbling and ball control exercises to help improve coordination with the ball.

“Dribbling is like candy,” he explained. “The right amount is really really good, but too much of it will make you and your coach sick.”

At that remark, the players were told to pass the ball to their partner so the dribbling practice was evenly distributed.

The self-acknowledged most important thing Lewis addressed, though, was not a scheme to put into action against opponents, but a mindset all players need anytime they enter the court.

“It is most important to have fun,” Lewis said. “I might not be able to run and jump as much as I used to, but I’m still having fun because I get to come (out here) and make new friends.”

A few short hours later, the Fever took the very court that the AAU teams conducted their clinic on to play against visiting Minnesota. Each of the Jr. Fever participants was given, among other souvenirs, a ticket and shirt to wear at the game.

This time around, the girls were given an opportunity to have fun off of the court.

For more information on the Jr. Fever program or to get your own AAU team involved, please contact Indiana Fever Community Relations manager Roberta Courtright at rcourtright@feverbasketball.com.