Protecting Home Court in Saturdayís Opener

May 18, 2006
Thereís a common theme in the Feverís locker room as the team prepares for its season opener this weekend. Opening night is always exciting. However with this yearís opener being at home, it is important to protect the home court. The Fever opens the 2006 regular season on Saturday night when the club hosts the Detroit Shock at Conseco Fieldhouse. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.

The Fever roster is comprised of a solid mix of young players and experienced veterans, all who understand that the first game of the season, although not necessarily a make-or-break game, can be important in setting a tone for the team and fans, alike.

Here are some individual Fever thoughts as the team approaches Saturdayís season opener:

Head Coach Brian Winters
ďDetroit is one of the best teams in the East. Itís a home game for us and you always want to win at home. Thatís obvious. If we happen to not win the game, itís not the end of the world. Nonetheless, we want to get off to a good start and take care of our home court. The way you win in professional basketball is you win on your home court and then you take it out on the road and try and win as many as you can. But you want to control your home court if you can do it. So, for that reason alone, it never really matters who you are playing. Detroitís going to be one of the top teams in the league and one of our rivals in our attempt to win the East. Theyíre a very formidable team. So Iím expecting a knock-down, physical, very tough game.Ē

Guard Anna DeForge
ďI think the first game of the season is always exciting. Itís what you look forward to throughout the offseason. Training camp can be brutal. Training camp is the time when you look forward to games coming around. If you are at home for the first game of the season in front of your home fans, you always want to get off to a good start. I love playing in front of the home crowd, so Iím excited that we get to open up at home. The first game sets the tone for your season, so for me, I am really looking forward to opening night. Iím looking forward to us opening at home, getting off to the right start and getting that ďWĒ to protect our home court.Ē

Guard Tully Bevilaqua
ďI think thereís always a bit more excitement in anticipation of the first game because itís the start of a new season. Youíve spent so many months preparing for it Ö and then itís finally here. And this year itís at home. So, I think for that reason thereís more excitement built up for this one. In my mind, it has just as much importance as the last game of the regular season. We play to win whether it is our first game or last game. We try and approach them all with the same mentality.Ē

Forward Tamika Whitmore
ďI think our home opener is going to be very important. Because I donít feel like a lot of people are giving us a chance to be competitive this year. I think they just go by the personnel you have and what they think players can do individually without considering what we can do together as a unit. I think this team is going to be very competitive.Ē

Center Ebony Hoffman
ďFor the first game of the season there will be a lot of nerves. Thatís just because itís the first game. We have a good mix of young players and experienced players, but I think weíre all excited and ready to get going. I think there are a number of different things going on in the first game. Weíll be getting to know one another on the court and building chemistry as we go. I think we played well with each other during the two preseason games and now we just need to go out and execute against Detroit. I donít really value one game over another. Every game is important. We have to win road games and we have to win home games. The more we win, the more distance we can create between ourselves and the competition.Ē

Forward Charlotte Smith
ďI typically try not to get too caught up in opening night. Emotionally, Iím pretty even-keel. But I know that this first game really means a lot. I want this first game to make a statement throughout the entire league. I donít want to just win, I want to dominate teams and I think itís very important to make a statement early.Ē

Forward LaíTangela Atkinson
ďIím really excited about playing in my first WNBA regular season game. As a team we worked hard in training camp to prepare for the season. I want to go out, play well, try not to do too much and help my team win in any way I can. Iím just excited because we are about to set the tone for the season.Ē

Guard K.B. Sharp
ďTo me, itís not just another game. Itís the first game of the season. Itís what sets the tone for your season. Weíre obviously very excited. I think thereís a lot more nerves that come into play for the very first game as compared to any other game during the regular season. But itís a good nervousness and it creates a positive energy. Everybodyís ready to get after it. Iím glad we are opening at home because there is a philosophy in basketball at any level, which is that you have to protect your home floor.Ē

Forward Linda FrŲhlich
ďThis game is actually very special for me personally for a couple of different reasons. Saturdayís game will be my first game back after not playing in the WNBA for the past two years. And in addition to that, I have my husbandís family reunion here in Indianapolis this weekend. They actually moved it here so we could all be together. Iím going to have roughly 30 family members at the game. So, this game is extra special for me. They are my family here in America and Iím just excited we can all be together. You always want to play well regardless of what game it is. And you always want to play well in front of the home crowd.Ē