By Wheat Hotchkiss | December 28, 2013
Height: 6-0 Position: Guard Age: 24 Years Pro: 3 College: Stanford Key Stats: Missed first half of season rehabbing from torn ACL suffered in 2012 playoffs. Appeared in 13 games, averaging 3.2 points and 1.9 rebounds in 14.7 minutes. Shot 37.5 percent from 3-point range.
For Jeanette Pohlen, 2013 was simply about getting back on the court. The injury bug bit so many Fever players in the past year, but perhaps no player had a tougher rehabilitation than Pohlen.
The Stanford sharpshooter was successful right out of the gates in the WNBA, leading the league in 3-point shooting percentage as rookie. In her sophomore season, Pohlen increased her minutes and point production, continued to grow on the defensive end, and played a pivotal role in the Fever’s title run. Perhaps her most memorable contribution came in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals, where she came off the bench in relief of an injured Katie Douglas and scored 14 points on 5-for-5 shooting (including four 3-pointers) to help Indiana to its second WNBA Finals appearance.
But just six days later, Pohlen tore her left ACL in Game 2 of the Finals. After all her hard work, she was forced to watch from the bench as her teammates rallied together and brought Indianapolis its first professional basketball championship since 1973.
Because she tore her ACL so late in the year (the Finals were even later than usual because of the Olympics), Pohlen’s rehab carried well into the 2013 season. The gruelingly-long grind to repair an ACL tear has forced many athletes to miss an entire calendar year.
PHOTO GALLERY: Jeanette Pohlen Season Gallery »
After a long offseason, Pohlen was back on the practice court in a limited capacity fairly early into the Fever’s season, but she still had to get the strength back in her knee and get her conditioning up to game speed.
“Starting my season halfway through their season is a little more difficult just because practices aren’t exactly as intense as they would be at the beginning of the season,” Pohlen said after the season. “But that’s why you do stuff outside of practice, and that’s why you do all the extra workouts and extra things to get back to where you need to be.”
After gradually increasing her workload, Pohlen was finally cleared for game action at the beginning of August.
The third-year guard made her season debut before the home crowd at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Aug. 3, playing 16:13 in a 79-58 win over Chicago. She delivered a solid performance, scoring seven points on 2-of-3 shooting (1-of-2 from 3-point range).
But Pohlen’s playing time over the rest of the season was sporadic. In her absence, other players such as Shavonte Zellous and Karima Christmas had taken on increased roles and excelled. Pohlen found herself competing with Erin Phillips (who herself made an injury-delayed debut in mid-July) and rookie Layshia Clarendon for backup minutes. The Fever were battling with New York and Washington for the final two playoff spots in the East, making it difficult to find time for Pohlen, who admittedly didn’t feel fully recovered.
“I would say (it wasn’t until) probably within the last two or three weeks (of the season) is when I started to feel more like myself,” Pohlen said.
Still, there were some bright spots. Pohlen hit 5-of-9 3-pointers in a four-game stretch spanning the end of August and beginning of September. With several starters resting on the final day of the regular season, Pohlen scored 12 points on 4-of-7 shooting and grabbed nine rebounds in an overtime loss at Connecticut.
In the playoffs, Pohlen’s role again fluctuated. She didn’t play against Chicago in Game 1 of the conference semifinals, but played 17 minutes in the Fever’s series-clinching Game 2 victory, scoring seven points. She appeared for just a few seconds in Game 1 of the conference finals in Atlanta. But then she saw the court for 16 minutes in Game 2, though – like most of her teammates – she struggled from the field, shooting just 1-for-7 and missing all five 3-point attempts.
Just when she was starting to feel like her old self, Pohlen’s season was over. But the Fever guard had several positive takeaways from this injury-riddled year, remaining optimistic that all the adversity she and her teammates went through in 2013 will make them stronger in 2014.
“People had to step into different roles and people had to do things that they probably hadn’t done before,” Pohlen said. “I think that’s only going to make everybody better, on and off the court.
“I think my lasting impression of this team will be a team that fought through so much adversity and overcame so much this season. I couldn’t be prouder of all the teammates that I had this season, and I think we’re going to be motivated for next season.”
Thus far, Pohlen has spent her offseason back home in California, where she continues to work on getting her knee back to where it was before her injury. She visited Indianapolis in mid-December, taking time to check out the Pacers-Heat game (where she met Justin Timberlake) and taking part in a shoe giveaway at IPS School 46 sponsored by Kroger. She’s still undecided whether she’ll attempt to play overseas in the new year.
Pohlen hopes to enter 2014 training camp fully healthy and ready to make an increased contribution. Her offseason training is focusing largely on becoming more well-rounded on the offensive end, including handling the ball more, and developing her driving and post-up games to complement her abilities as a shooter.
Jeanette Pohlen's 2013 was about getting back on the court, but 2014 is about taking her game to new heights.
FeverBasketball.com is doing Player Reviews for each player on the 2013 Indiana Fever. Check out other stories from this series:
Player Review 2013: Shavonte Zellous Player Review 2013: Erlana Larkins Player Review 2013: Layshia Clarendon Player Review 2013: Karima Christmas Player Review 2013: Jasmine Hassell Player Review 2013: Erin Phillips Player Review 2013: Briann January Player Review 2013: Katie Douglas Player Review 2013: Tamika Catchings