Fever loses Griffith but keeps winning

June 21, 2009 | By Ericka Sanders
It’s still early, but the Indiana Fever is showing that its first two losses were merely a bump in the road.

A bump that included losing veteran center Yolanda Griffith to a torn Achilles for the season, minor injuries to Briann January (bruised tailbone), Katie Douglas (left eye contusion and right wrist contusion), Tamika Catchings (thigh contusion) and Ebony Hoffman (ankle tendinitis); and signing three new players: centers Jessica Davenport and Jessica Moore, and guard Shay Murphy.

That bump is shrinking quickly, though, with the Fever having won its last four games, three by double-digits including tonight’s 82-70 victory over the Detroit Shock.

“No one in this league has an automatic bid to the championship game,” Hoffman said. “We talk about it and we want to get there, but we’re going game by game. People were saying ‘It’s over for them,’ but it was two games into the season. We’re all about letting it roll and playing team basketball.”

And in a week’s time, Indiana has really had to roll quickly helping newcomers Davenport, Moore and Murphy get acclimated with the system.

Davenport, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2007 WNBA draft, was signed as a free agent to replace Griffith. Waived by the New York Liberty during training camp, Davenport hasn’t posted big numbers (career averages of 5.1 points and 2.7 rebounds), but her 6-5 frame should add a lot to the Fever’s post game.

“We were very fortunate to pick up someone like Jessica Davenport with her size and her length. The fact that she’s had some experience in the WNBA helps as well,” Fever coach Lin Dunn said. “Jessica Moore is like a baby (Yolanda Griffith) with her physicality. I believe she had a foul checking in at Detroit Friday night.”

Davenport, the Fever’s first Ohio State graduate, says she’s ready to help the team in any way she can.

“I just want to be a presence down low doing whatever they need me to do, whether it’s rebounding or blocking shots,” she said.

Although she hasn’t logged nearly as many minutes as Griffith, Davenport, along with Moore, can count on Hoffman and Tammy Sutton-Brown for advice on how best to play down low, especially against teams like the Shock.

“It’s all about patience,” Hoffman advises. “Take what the defense gives you and work on your weaknesses so you can be unstoppable and they can’t guard anything you do.”

Such advice was used wisely by the Fever in its victory over the Shock at Conseco Fieldhouse. Down 17 in the first half, Indiana used hard-nosed defense and three-point shooting to lead by as many as 15 during the second half, which was the second largest point swing in Fever history (plus 29 points).

Shooting just under 55 percent, three players scored in double-digits, led by Katie Douglas’ 23 points, along with 23 assists against 14 turnovers.

“I think the week we had off before going up against Detroit really helped us," Catchings said. "We look a lot different than we did the first two games."

Adds Hoffman, “The dynamic (of the team) has changed, but we haven’t lost a step. We’ve actually gained one.”