Fever Trio Stays Together
While a half-dozen of their Indiana Fever teammates are currently playing overseas, three Fever stars will star in the early months of 2005 with the Chicago Blaze of the National Women’s Basketball League (NWBL), a developmental league comprised of teams in six U.S. cities.
Ebony Hoffman and Coretta Brown join Tamika Catchings, who played intermittently with the Blaze in parts of 2003 and 2004. The league is comprised of professional women’s basketball players from across the nation, including players from the WNBA who choose to stay in the U.S. to play during the WNBA offseason.
Catchings, with her Olympic commitments in 2004, played sparingly with the Blaze but was far and away the team’s biggest star. She has re-signed with the Blaze for 2005, though her schedule will be no less hectic than a year ago – taking time to complete her Master’s Degree at the University of Tennessee as well as making scheduled appearances with the Fever and the WNBA.
“Obviously we have been waiting for this day,” said Blaze general manager Robert Graham on Jan. 6 when Catchings re-signed with the club. “We are thrilled that Tamika will be with us for the 2005 season. This is Tamika’s third season with us. She is such a wonderful young lady and gives everything that she has when she is here. She wants to be here, so it was a no-brainer for us to accommodate her hectic schedule.”
Joining Catchings this season, however, are Indiana’s young stars in Hoffman and Brown who recently completed their first and second seasons in the WNBA, respectively. Hoffman, the Fever’s first-round selection in the 2004 WNBA Draft, was recently the third overall selection and the Blaze’s top pick in the 2005 NWBL Draft. She appeared in 30 games as a Fever rookie in 2004 and joins Brown as Fever players who reside in the Indianapolis market this offseason, representing the Fever in a variety of off-the-court appearances.
Brown, Catchings and Hoffman all will play limited schedules with the Blaze, but all are scheduled to appear in the team’s season opener on Saturday, Jan. 15 against the defending NWBL champion Dallas Fury, in Dallas. They will return on Sunday, Jan. 16 to face the Colorado Chill (led by the N.Y. Liberty’s Becky Hammon) in the Blaze’s home opener. Blaze home games are played at Merner Fieldhouse located on the campus of North Central College in Naperville, Ill.
Teams in the 2005 NWBL include: Birmingham Power, Chicago Blaze, Colorado Chill, Dallas Fury, Lubbock Hawks and the San Jose Spiders.