Roster Re-Tooling Surrounds Catchings with Depth and Experience

March 27, 2006

Chat with Fever GM Kelly Krauskopf
Thursday, March 30, 1:00 p.m. ET

The Indiana Fever has been among the most active teams in the WNBA this winter, recently announcing the signing of veteran power forward Tamika Whitmore to complete a free agency period that has included two trades, a move up in the upcoming draft, and the acquisition of at least three potential starters.

With the losses of Natalie Williams (retirement), Jurgita Streimikyte (national team commitment) and Deanna Jackson (Chicago expansion draft), Fever GM Kelly Krauskopf has put in motion a very aggressive off-season agenda.

Historically, Krauskopf has been active in the trade and free agent markets, but never so much as prior to the 2006 season. In the process, she has landed a big name via trade (Anna DeForge) and free agency (Whitmore), as well as bringing back a franchise fan favorite (Olympia Scott).

(1) In early February, the re-tooling began as the Fever executed a trade with Phoenix that brought Anna DeForge to Indianapolis, in exchange for Kelly Miller. DeForge is a bigger, stronger, more physical presence both offensively and defensively than Miller - and her 3-point numbers have been among league leaders the past three years. She is a shooting guard that is more physical than Miller, and has become of the league's new and upcoming stars.

(2) On the same day, Krauskopf announced the signing of free agents Olympia Scott and Charlotte Smith, effectively filling the voids left by Williams and Jackson. Scott's best season in the WNBA was in 2002 with Indiana, prior to a knee injury in 2003. She has been a reserve at Charlotte and Sacramento the past two seasons, and finally has returned to the physical shape that she displayed while leading the Fever to its first playoff berth in '02. Smith, meanwhile, has been a starter in Charlotte and Washington over the past six seasons. She is an athletic forward similar in style to Tamika Catchings - and a player who has great experience and veteran leadership.

(3) One week later, Krauskopf inked German National Team member Linda Frölich, a young power forward with excellent rebounding and 3-point shooting capabilities. Frölich played two seasons with New York before concentrating her efforts in Europe the past two years. She is a former All-American at UNLV, and played for Spartak Moscow, with Catchings and Williams, last winter.

(4) Later in February, a second trade was executed. This one sent restricted free agent Kelly Schumacher and Indiana's first-round draft pick (#12) to New York, in exchange for the Liberty's first-round pick (#9). Simply put, Schumacher wanted to test the free agent market, and rather than losing her for nothing in return, Krauskopf executed a sign-and-trade agreement that allowed the Fever to receive compensation for her loss.

(5) And on the same day as the Schumacher trade, Krauskopf signed a back-up point guard, K.B. Sharp. Sharp is currently starring in Israel this winter, and played her college ball at Cincinnati. She is a quick and experienced point guard who lends good depth at this position, with Tully Bevilaqua and Yolanda Paige.

(6) Even with the signing of Scott, Smith and Frohlich - and the losses of Williams and Schumacher, a looming concern was that of an interior post defender. But alas, with the March 17 signing of Whitmore, a consistent WNBA starter with N.Y. and L.A., the void has very nicely been filled. She is a former NCAA scoring champion whose trademark through seven seasons and three WNBA Finals appearances, has been that as a dominant and powerful interior defender and rebounder.

Krauskopf has reloaded the Fever roster, all the while maintaining the anchors of its lineup that advanced to the WNBA Eastern Conference Finals last summer - Catchings and Bevilaqua in the starting lineup; with Tan White and Ebony Hoffman as top contributing reserves. A likely starting lineup could include DeForge, Whitmore and Scott. Frohlich, Sharp and Smith join White and Hoffman in establishing a two-deep roster at every position.

Added to the roster will be a top draft pick from the April 5 WNBA Draft. Final roster spots are up for grabs in what could be the most competitive training camp in Fever history!

Here is a summary of the Fever’s 2006 roster changes, and an overview of the current Fever roster (as of March 27):

  • Signed a veteran, quick, athletic rebounding center to replace Natalie Williams (Olympia Scott)
  • Signed a veteran power forward to replace Jurgita Streimikyte (Tamika Whitmore)
  • Signed a versatile 3/4 veteran athletic forward to replace the combo of Streimikyte and Deanna Jackson (Charlotte Smith)
  • Signed a backup point guard with experience, size, speed (K.B. Sharp)
  • Signed/traded for a 2-guard who has size, strength to finish in the paint, and can provide outside shooting (Anna DeForge)
  • Signed a versatile power forward to provide depth at post (Linda Fröhlich)

    TRAINING CAMP PLAYER ANALYSIS (players listed alphabetically):

    (42) Jenni Benningfield | 6-3 forward (2nd year with Fever)
  • Improving, young power forward who played in Spain the past two off-seasons;
  • Strong rebounder who will be vying for a roster spot due to the influx of new players.

    (41) Tully Bevilaqua | 5’7 point guard (2nd year with Fever)
  • Provided valuable leadership, toughness and experience last season at the point guard;
  • Superior defender who was named WNBA First Team All-Defense in 2005;
  • Led WNBA in steals-to-turnover ratio;
  • Heart and soul of team.

    (14) Coretta Brown | 5-9 shooting guard (3rd year with Fever)
  • An explosive rookie scorer two seasons ago, Brown was hampered by injury much of the 2005 campaign;
  • Was the only Fever not to play competitively this winter, staying in the United States to train and intern with the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association.

    (24) Tamika Catchings | 6’1 small forward (5th year with Fever)
  • Perennial All-Star;
  • Will play mostly small forward with some time at the power forward position when the team wants to pick up speed of game;
  • All-around scorer, rebounder and best defender on the team;
  • 2005 WNBA Defensive Player of the Year and third in balloting for WNBA MVP;
  • Remains the Fever's top go-to player.

    (30) Anna DeForge | 5’10 shooting guard (1st year with Fever)
  • Strong, versatile shooting guard who can put it on the floor and shoot the three;
  • Gets to the free throw line;
  • Can post up smaller guards because of her size;
  • Also a very good perimeter defender who is among league leaders in steals;
  • Often drew the toughest defensive assignments on her former team, and can be a go-to player on offense.

    (13) Linda Frölich | 6’2 power forward (1st year with Fever)
  • Accomplished player in Europe who played two seasons with the N.Y. Liberty;
  • Can score in a variety of ways, has developed a nice 3-point shot, and also a great rebounder and passer;
  • Has a high basketball IQ and a sense for making others around her better;
  • Will add depth and experience at the post position.

    (32) Ebony Hoffman | 6’2 center (3rd year with Fever)
  • Powerful and versatile post player who can face up or play with back to the basket;
  • Very strong around the basket, should back-up mostly at the center position
  • Played in Italy this past off-season.

    (21) Yolanda Paige | 5'6 point guard (2nd year with Fever)
  • Great quickness and a great ballhandler at the point, who still is learning the pro game;
  • Briefly played overseas in France;
  • Fever’s second-round draft pick in 2005.

    (0) Olympia Scott | 6’2 center (1st year back with Fever, 3rd year overall)
  • Seven-year veteran of the WNBA;
  • Quick, athletic post player who can run the floor, score in transition and rebound;
  • A tough defender, she was signed for strength, rebounding, speed and experience in the post;
  • Averaged nine points and seven rebounds per game when she started with Fever in 2002;
  • She is back to full strength after overcoming a knee injury in March 2003.

    (3) K.B. Sharp | 5’9 point guard (1st year with Fever)
  • Will play backup at the point guard position;
  • Has developed her game over the years, after playing in N.Y. for two seasons;
  • Brings athleticism, size and speed to the point guard position;
  • Very smart player who can get to the rim and knock down the outside shot; another strong perimeter defender.

    (23) Charlotte Smith | 6’0 forward (1st year with Fever)
  • Has the versatility to play both high post and small forward;
  • Will be interchangeable when playing with Catchings;
  • Can post-up smaller and slower defenders, can also shoot the 3 or get to the rim;
  • Great athlete and a consummate professional, brings experience, length and athleticism;
  • First female to dunk in a college game, she is currently an assistant coach at No. 1-ranked North Carolina, who she led to a national championship in 1994.

    (15) Tan White | 5’7 shooting guard (2nd year with Fever)
  • Explosive offensive player who should see more playing time this season;
  • Extremely talented on offensive end with ability to score in a variety of ways - 26 points at Seattle last year were the most by any rookie;
  • Also a tremendous passer and leaper;
  • Second overall pick in 2005 draft.

    (91) Tamika Whitmore | 6’2 forward/post (1st year with Fever)
  • Seven-year veteran of WNBA, with three trips to the WNBA Finals;
  • Whitmore's 32 playoff games with the Liberty and Sparks are among the most in league history;
  • Brings toughness, scoring and rebounding at the post position;
  • Steady WNBA performer with versatility to shoot outside and score inside;
  • An experienced player who is playoff-tested, tough and powerful in the post.

    Free Agents Invited to Training Camp:
    Lenae Williams | 5’11 guard/forward (1st training camp with Fever)
  • DePaul graduate who played her rookie season in 2002 with the Detroit Shock;
  • Has not played in the WNBA the past three seasons, but played in Greece last winter where she led all EuroCup players in scoring.

    Nikkita Bell | 6’0 small forward (1st training camp with Fever)
  • The 2005 Atlantic Coast Conference Defensive Player of the Year, she was drafted by the Shock last season;
  • Waived in training camp with Detroit, but played overseas in Israel where she led her league in steals;
  • Played at UNC with Charlotte Smith as her assistant coach.