Winters: Roster Overview
April 12, 2007
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Shortly after the WNBA Draft, Fever coach Brian Winters sat down to discuss the new and enhanced Fever roster. Despite returning all five starters for the first time ever, Indiana will benefit from two All-Star caliber newcomers and a 6-7 All-America center from Duke.
Winters embarks on his fourth season at the Fever helm this summer.
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Already the winningest coach in Fever history with 57 wins through three seasons, Winters offered thoughts on each Fever player entering training camp – which begins April 22.
Indiana enters the 2007 campaign bidding for a third straight playoff bid, having turned in identical, franchise-best 21-13 records in 2005 and 2006. The Fever advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2005, and is hoping for a return at least that far in 2007!
FeverBasketball.com: Can you provide an overview of the changes to this year’s roster?
Brian Winters: “Our team has changed fairly dramatically, starting with the dispersal draft when we selected Sheri Sam. Sheri has been an All-Star caliber player in the WNBA for a long time. She is a veteran player who just knows how to play. She is very good. That was unexpected. We thought someone would take her before we got there, but she slid down and we had the cap room and we were able to get her. She’s a great pickup for our team.
“Also, Tammy Sutton-Brown was another Charlotte player. She’s a center and has been an All-Star. She’s 6-4/6-5 and somebody that size that we haven’t had in the three years that I’ve been here. We were able to get her to commit to us as a free agent, and we were obviously very happy about that.
“We’ve added two of Charlotte’s starters to our group, so our depth has increased dramatically. When we got [Alison] Bales in the draft, it wound up being a great pickup and even more size. We didn’t expect her to get out of the top six.
“Overall, our biggest differences from last year are, number one, the depth. And number two, the size that we now possess on the front line.”
FB: Does it change the way the Fever might play the game?
BW: “I don’t think it really changes the way we will play all that much, though maybe a little bit. With the size we have, we could go with a really big lineup and maybe play more zone defense and guard the rim better. You would think our rebounding and our ability to score around the basket will be enhanced with the big people we have added – particularly with Tammy around the basket, and Alison at 6-7 guarding at the rim. That’s what she did at Duke, she blocked a lot of shots that led to a lot of fast breaks.
“We still want, offensively, to push the ball and get easy baskets whenever we can. Most importantly, we want to get quality shots. Defensively, as I said, maybe we can be more effective and play more zone with the new size that we have. Playing against zones, with Bales and Sutton-Brown being the size that they are, they are easier targets for our guards to find, too. If we throw the ball into the post with them, particularly Tammy, defenses will probably drop, and maybe that can lead to better perimeter shots, also.
“We still want to be good defensively. We still want to rebound and be tough. We want to rebound on the defensive end and start the fast break. We want to run and get easy baskets whenever we can.”
FB: Let’s go down the roster with a couple of attributes that you like about each player, and also offer a comment about how you would like to see each player improve.
Alison Bales: “She’s a very good passer and she is more a face-up center, rather than a back-to-basket low post center. I like that because she can turn and shoot over people, just off the low post or off the elbows at the free throw line. So we can play a little high-low with her. She’s a very good shot-blocker, we all know that. I guess for her to improve, I think we need to find a low-post move that works for her, whether it’s a turnaround jumper or a jump hook of sorts.
Tully Bevilaqua: “She is a leader. She has great toughness and she is a terrific defender. Tully probably needs to be a little more consistent in her 3-point shot and get to the rim a little more to break down defenses.”
Tamika Catchings: “Tamika is just a tremendous player in so many areas. Her greatest attributes are her defense and her rebounding. She is a relentless defender and rebounder, and she gets a lot of steals. She has great toughness and strength. I guess a little more consistency in her perimeter shot would be helpful.”
Anna DeForge: “Anna was put in a little bit of a tough position where I played her as a backup point guard last year. We’ll see if we do that again. It might be easier for her if I just left her as a 2/3 wing player, and let her do what she is really good at. She is a very good shooter, she’s smart, she knows how to play and she can pick-and-roll some. She needs to work on her defense a little bit. Occasionally, she can get turned around or out of position defensively at times – I think she just needs to work on that.”
Linda Fröhlich: “Linda is an excellent shooter and a very smart player. She needs to continue to work on her conditioning and running the floor a little better. She’s a very smart, very good player.”
Ebony Hoffman: “Ebony played center for us last year. With the addition of our big people, more than likely she’s going to play the 4. She needs to continue to work on her low-post game and a little more consistent perimeter shot, but she works hard and is a good rebounder. She has a really quick first step to the basket and she needs to stay in top-flight condition. She dropped a lot of weight last year and got in better condition and really became a better player. We expect the same from her this year. She won’t be mis-matched size-wise as much this year. She’ll be playing against people her size and, not being the focal point inside, she’ll have a chance to improve her game away from the basket.”
Ashley Key: “Ashley is a combo guard who has played both the 1 and 2 positions. She made the All-Defensive Team in the ACC the last few years. I think she’s an adequate-to-good shooter from the perimeter, she’s very strong and she has pretty good quickness. We’re going to have to see if she can compete at this level, and what position is the best fit for her.”
Lyndsey Medders: “Lyndsey is a point guard. She is a very smart player and really knows how to run a team. Having Tully at age 34, we have to be conscious of who will replace her in the future. We have K.B., and we wanted to look at some point guards in the draft, also. She’s a pretty good shooter, and she’s a point guard who knows how to direct and play the position. When she comes to training camp, she’s going to have to show us that she has the speed and quickness to play at this level, and along the way, her perimeter shooting is going to have to continue to improve.”
Sheri Sam: “Sheri is a very good defender, very smart and a very good decision-maker. She can probably play either wing position and maybe even some point guard. As I said, she has been an All-Star caliber player. We’ll have to see where she fits, but she is a very good player in many areas. She can drive it and score, she can post, she’s a good medium-range shooter. She’s a solid player in many areas.”
K.B. Sharp: “K.B. needs to continue to work on her shooting, and become a threat on the perimeter. She is very fast with the ball up and down the court. Great speed with the ball, she is really fast. She needs to keep improving her defense – her lateral quickness from side-to-side guarding people.”
Ann Strother: “I haven’t seen Ann in a few years. I watched her growing up and I watched her at Connecticut. I think her biggest challenge for the WNBA is to move from being a kind of a post player in college to more of a wing positon in the WNBA. Her speed and quickness is being challenged at that position. She needs to become a little better 3-point shooter. She is a smart player and a talented player. She’s a young player who just needs to continue work at her game and get better.”
Tammy Sutton-Brown: “Tammy’s a low-post, back-to-the-basket center and I think she’s very good at that. She can come up and hit a 12- to 15-footer, but that’s not her strength. Perhaps we can work on that a little, but she runs the floor very well and is a very good defender. She’s a physical player and I don’t see a lot of holes in her game.”
Kasha Terry: “Kasha’s just young and raw. She needs to continue to get a better game overall, a little better sense of where to go and what to do at times. She plays extremely hard. She’s a good rebounder, good scorer around the basket. She needs to continue to work on her face-up shot. She’s a good young player who just needs to get a little more experience under her belt. She just needs to be a little more relaxed in the game. She’s gotten to play a lot overseas and hopefully she’ll come back as a better player.”
Tan White: “Tan needs to continue to work on her 3-point shooting. She shot it in the low 20s (.216) last year. This will be her third year. She should be a little more relaxed on the court. She is so fast on the court that sometimes she loses the ball a little. Her dribble skills need to improve. She’s a great slasher, driver and scorer, and she has great strength. She improved her defense tremendously last year and hopefully she’ll continue to improve that aspect of her game. We’ll have some competition at her position this year. I think all of our players need to embrace the competition and go out to compete every day, and prove they belong on the floor.”
Tamika Whitmore: “If she set her mind to it, I think Whit could be a better rebounder. I think defensively, too, guarding players and not letting them drive past her – she could get a little bit better. But she is a terrific scorer, she knows how to play, has toughness and likes physical play. She doesn’t shy away from anything. She’s a very good player. She was an All-Star last year, so obviously she’s doing a lot of good things.”