Catching up with the Fever at Media Day 2008

Tully Bevilaqua

On Tamika Catchings, and playing without her:

“Going into the season not knowing when Catchings will be back, I think we’ll be better for it when she does comes back. Catch will be Catch and she’ll do what does best, but I think it will help Catchings because everyone else will still be looking for what they can do, rather than being a little complacent and putting more pressure on Tamika’ shoulders than necessary.”

On playing with Katie Douglas:

“She’s always been a nemesis for us playing for Connecticut. Thankfully now she’s on our side. She’s a perimeter threat and she’s a great defender. Coming to a team that’s renowned for defense, she’s going to make it even stronger.”

On Lin Dunn’s defensive philosophy:

“I think [Tamika] Catchings and I are pretty happy about Lin’s defensive philosophy. It’s the old cliché that if you can’t stop a team from scoring then it puts pressure on you to score more as well. The key to our success in the past has been that we didn’t shoot the ball that well, but we still won games because our defense kept us close. Hopefully, this year we’ll have better shooting percentages and consistency that we didn’t have last year.”

On playing time:

“Minutes don’t matter me. If the coach puts me out there for one minute or for 40 minutes, it doesn’t phase me whatsoever, whatever is best for the team. I can see myself in K.B. Sharp and whoever’s in that Fever point guard spot. If we can keep that tempo going for 40 minutes by rotating the guards, I’m all for that. That’s the style I’m seeing from Lin’s practice is that she wants it to be up-tempo – let’s push and get some easy, quick shots.”

On the Outdoor Game in New York:

“I’m really excited about the outdoor game and it’s on my birthday (July 19). Hopefully I won’t have to gauge my shot for the corner, or something to adjust for the breeze.”

Tamika Catchings

On watching from the sidelines:

“It kills me not to be playing. It’s tough just because when you sit out this long, you just want to get out there. I think the toughest thing is watching games and not being able to have an affect on it. You can sit there and scream and yell or try to coach, but other than that you can’t do anything.”

On losing Tamika Whitmore:

“Whitmore was a huge part of this team and it’s going to be an adjustment that we have to make. It was a strength having her in the post. I don’t know if her energy can really be replaced but we’re going to need a couple players to just step up. We’re going to need that toughness and that attitude that she brought.”

On having so many rookies and free agents in camp:

“Honestly all of the new players have been impressive. They’ve all been very receptive to me, to Lin [Dunn} and to each other. Each one of them has done a great job in their position. Whether it’s been Constance [Jinks], Jennifer Humphrey (‘Lanky’ as we call her), Angelina Williams or LaToya Bond, when I’ve asked them or challenged them to do one thing or another they’ve all taken it into consideration and worked on it.”

On Fever draft pick Khadijah Whittington:

“One of the best attributes about her [Khadijah Whittington] is that she works so hard. If there’s something that you tell her, she’ll figure out a way to correct it. She doesn’t complain, she hustles and she is just a great person.”

On the late arrival of Fever veterans:

“When you have veteran players you gel a lot quicker. We have vets coming back who are comfortable being in this situation. Lin [Dunn] has added some different things, but there’s nothing that we haven’t seen before.”

On the Fever anticipating a title:

“Every year we sit here and say this is going to be the year. The past three or four years we’ve had a great start and then it seems to go south after the All-Star break. Last year played well after the break until I got hurt. The key is trying to stay healthy, definitely for me, and also staying focused. We need to finish off the season before we focus on the playoffs. I want to win the Eastern Conference in the regular season, and then the Eastern Conference Finals in the playoffs, and then finish off with a championship.”

On filming the WNBA’s “Expect Great” ad campaign featuring Catchings, Cheryl Ford and Candace Parker:

“We are trying to attract more people to the game and get more people to understand what the WNBA is all about. The campaign is kind of a knock on people’s assumptions I guess. A lot of people say that women can’t play basketball and we don’t do this or we don’t do that. It’s a very funny little clip. I had a lot of fun doing it.”

Coach Lin Dunn

On the difference between college and pro coaching:

“I have really enjoyed the professional coaching level. It’s a lot different than college because it’s just pure basketball, X’s and O’s, and of course you’re dealing with adults. Now I’ve got the opportunity to take over this team and I think our goal is to build on what we’ve done the past three years. You know, go further, win an Eastern Conference championship and then a WNBA Championship. I think it’s okay to set those type of goals because I think you have to talk about what you want to do. If you don’t, then it’s hard to believe you really want to do it.”

On the difference in styles between herself and former Fever coach Brian Winters:

“I think our philosophies are similar. Offensively and defensively we both agreed a lot on how to play the game. I do want to be more up-tempo, we’d really like to push the ball more and attack the rim in transition. I think where I’m a little more of an open-court type coach offensively, he might be more of a quarter-court coach. I can definitely see that difference there.”

On filling Catchings’ shoes while she remains out:

“Allison Feaster, Tan White, and Katie Douglas are going to really have to play those two and three spots while Catchings recovers.”

On scoring in Catchings’ absence:

“I don’t want to put a target on her [Katie Douglas] chest, but I think her and Tan [White] are going to be our top scorers without Catchings.”

On reserve point guard K.B. Sharp:

“What we really like about K.B. Sharp is how she compliments Tully [Bevilaqua]. She’s really quick up and down the court pushing the ball so she’s going to like us moving the ball. She’s also a good defender. We think with one more year she’s just going to be even better. Tully is at the time in her career where she’s not going to be a 30-minute player. We need Tully to play 25 minutes and K.B. to play 15. I think K.B. is excited about the opportunity to play more minutes and play more up-tempo.”

On rookie draft pick Khadijah Whittington:

“We drafted Whittington for her energy, her defense and her rebounding. We think she has a huge upside. She’s a natural 4, that’s what she played in college. We’ve been having her play two positions so if at times she looks a bit confused it’s because we’re asking her to do something that’s confusing. She’s just a great kid to have around. She reminds me so much of Catchings when she came out of Tennessee. We were excited to get her in the second round.”

On a timetable for Catchings’ return:

“I’ve decided to not worry about how many games Catchings is going to out for, and instead just focus on what we need to do while she’s gone. We know when she comes back that’ll be a huge boost for us. How do we start this season, and play this season without our best player? What sets do we run? How do we use our personnel? What makes it even more challenging is two of our key players aren’t even here. This training camp has been a practice for us to see what’s best to do when they get here. Ebony Hoffman has to step her game up as do Tammy Sutton-Brown, Tan White and Katie Douglas.”

On competing in the WNBA’s Eastern Conference:

“The Eastern Conference is going to be tremendously competitive. I don’t think there’s any doubt that the odds-on favorite is Detroit because they were number one in the East last year and they had a really good draft. Then you have all the rest of us with New York, Connecticut and Washington. Atlanta’s going to have a surprisingly good team out of the expansion draft. This is not the kind of expansion we had back in 2000, trust me! Then Chicago’s much improved too. They got two good kids out of the draft. Anytime you have a top-three pick it has an impact. The addition of Sylvia Fowles makes Chicago better. Detroit got [Alexis] Hornbuckle out of Tennessee; that makes them better. The question is how they can be the number one team in the East and get a top-five pick?”

On depth in the post:

“I think we have the potential to be one of the best teams in the league when Catchings comes back, if our post players develop as we need them to. You’ve got to remember that we didn’t get Katie Douglas for free. We traded a quality post player to get her. Tammy Sutton-Brown, Ebony Hoffman, Alison Bales and Kasha Terry have got to step up and fill the hole left by an All-Star.”

Tan White

On her role in a new offensive system:

“My style is the up-tempo type game. We always tried to play that way, but unfortunately we didn’t have all the right pieces for it. I think this system is more of one that lets everyone go out freely and just play, so I’m very excited for the upcoming season. We had a good team last year – that was a championship-type team. When you switch systems to an up-tempo type team, you switch some players too. With the addition of Katie Douglas, I think that it will make us harder to defend.”

On playing with so many young, quick guards in training camp:

“They’re quick guards. I think their style is definitely what Lin [Dunn] is looking for. I don’t know who she’ll keep but it’s getting us ready to be in a different type of system. This is my first time being in a camp playing with a lot of quicker guards that can really help me out and get into the flow of what we’re trying to do.”

Khadijah Whittington

On playing for the Fever, and her role on the team:

“I couldn’t ask for a better situation, but I always know that I have to get the job done. I have to understand why they drafted me. I’m the kind of player that’s going to work hard all the time. I’m a defensive player. I’m not trying to do too much. I’m just trying to do what I can, as well as whatever is needed.”