Dixons experience, poise crucial to Fever

July 15, 2009 | By Ericka Sanders

Frank McGrath / PS&E Photo
Indiana Fever guard Tamecka Dixon has been a much larger influence on the season than her stats show.

First, she’s experienced. A 12-year veteran, Dixon is one of just four active players remaining from the WNBA’s inaugural season in 1997.

Second, Dixon’s pretty darn durable. In 12 seasons she’s played in 328 regular season and 36 playoff games, averaging 10.3 points.

Finally, as fellow guard Tully Bevilaqua puts it, “When Tamecka is on the floor, and especially in crucial moments, she keeps it cool. We all have confidence that she’s going to make the right play at the right time.”

And that is what the New Jersey born and raised Dixon has done for teams throughout her basketball career. She’s not flashy, but she can be creative. She doesn’t post huge numbers, but she makes big plays.

Dixon hasn’t played many minutes for Indiana, but when she’s on the court, she makes every second and each play count.

Take the June 21 home game against Detroit. In 16 minutes, Dixon scored eight points, shooting 3-of-5 from the field, including two 3-pointers, and had two assists and two crucial steals that turned the game around.

“I see my role as a steadying presence on the court,” Dixon said. “I try to come in and do whatever it is I think we’re lacking in.”

Coming to Indiana as a free agent, Dixon had to make a sacrifice. For the majority of her career, she’s been a starter and with the Fever’s starting line-up pretty much set, the Kansas grad knew she would have to come off the bench.

“It’s a different, but I relish it and try to do it to the best of my ability,” she said. “It does allow me to look at what we may be lacking and implement those things when I do come into the game.”

It’s that way of thinking that makes Dixon a favorite among players and coaches. As training camp was winding down, Fever coach Lin Dunn had to choose between Dixon and Tan White, whom the team drafted in 2005.

“We chose Dixon because of her experience,” Dunn said. “She’s plays whatever role we need her to play. She understands the game, and she’s tremendous at getting to the rim and creating her own shot. She just has a poise about her that is invaluable off the bench.”

Dixon’s willingness to come off the bench is also a sign that her career may be winding down.

“I’m thinking this may be my last year, but we’ll see how it goes,” she said. “I’m 33, and I probably still got a little bit of basketball left in me. But I’m kind of ready to do other things.”

The plan after basketball is to put more time into her business of training youths in basketball that she started last year with her father, who played professional basketball in France, Italy and Argentina, and her personal trainer.

When and if Dixon retires, she’ll leave behind a professional career that included amazing moments, including being among the WNBA’s all-time leaders in games played, points, assists, steals and minutes, and two championships with the Sparks.

“It’s been crucial having someone like Tamecka coming off the bench and bringing her smarts out on the court,” Bevilaqua said. “She’s even teaching me to stay calm under pressure, something she’s really good at.”