Chemistry and confidence help Fever soar

By Ericka Sanders | July 5, 2009

Frank McGrath / PS&E Photo
After the embarrassing home opener loss to Minnesota, the Indiana Fever sat in the locker room slightly dumbfounded.

“Going 0-2 and knowing the kind of team we thought we were in practice, knowing we have a really good team with the potential to be a great team we sat in the locker room like 'what do we do?'" said one of the team’s leaders, Tamika Catchings. “We knew we had to change something. As individuals we had to figure out what people were not doing for us not to be winning.”

Although it was only two games and the team’s stress level wasn’t rising frantically, every member of the team knew a solution was important if they were going to get back on track.

“We had a meeting of the minds and said we can either get it going or we can just fold,” said Katie Douglas. “We decided to hold ourselves accountable and become recommitted.”

Those decisions have led Indiana to an 8-2 record after defeating Atlanta 78-74 to avenge its season-opening loss from one night before the Minnesota debacle at home. The Fever has rebounded from its 0-2 opening weekend to post the best record in the WNBA and the longest win streak in franchise history.

Head coach Lin Dunn says the team’s offense still hasn’t caught up to its defense, but fans have been treated to a Fever team that moves the ball more frequently and efficiently, shoots the open shot and is playing at a level Catchings hasn’t seen since she’s been in Indiana.

“I think the chemistry is a big thing,” she said. “The support system we’ve built amongst ourselves has given people the confidence that when they go in the game to be able to perform. We know that even if we make a mistake, we have each other’s back 100 percent. I think that is the thing that has really helped everybody.”

Dunn agrees but adds that Indiana, like most teams, have not been without adversity and that has helped as well.

“We’ve had some tough games when we’ve been down and we've been in overtime, and we've have had to come back our share of games,” she said. “We also lost a star player, and I think what has helped us build some chemistry is dealing with such adversity.”

Indiana may be the best team according to its record but not according to its coach.

“Absolutely not,” she said when asked if her team had risen to that level of recognition. “On any night, any team can beat anybody. We just happen to have the best record and the best record doesn’t mean you are the best team – trust me.”

So how can the Fever keep the streak going? How can they keep their confidence soaring?

“We have to stay in the moment,” said Douglas. “You would watch our practices and think we’re 0-9. I think it starts with us in practice and our habits translate. Coach Dunn has been great at getting on us and staying on us, and not letting us get too excited or complacent. We’re still very relentless and still very hungry.”