Indiana, Seattle: Similar In Many Ways

July 18, 2008 | by Ericka Sanders

Frank McGrath / PS&E Photo
It doesn’t take a magnifying class to notice that the Indiana Fever and the Seattle Storm mirror each other. Both franchises joined the WNBA in 2000 and while they haven’t shared players, they’ve swapped a couple of coaches.

Fever head coach Lin Dunn led Seattle for its first three years with Fever assistant coach Gary Kloppenburg on staff while Anne Donovan, who led the Storm to a championship in 2004, coached Indiana during its first year in the league. However, it was Dunn who put the pieces together that helped lead Seattle to the title.

“The first three years we really laid a foundation for a championship team,” said Dunn. “Our ability to get two No. 1 picks back to back and get Sue Bird and Lauren Jackson was really crucial.”

Although Indiana hasn’t claimed the top title yet, like Seattle, they have the pieces with Tamika Catchings, Katie Douglas, Tully Bevilaqua (who was the backup point guard for Seattle in 2004) and Tammy Sutton-Brown.

“Indiana has never had a top draft pick,” said Dunn. “But we have great players to get it done.”

Aside from great players and sharing coaches, Donovan believes both franchises have continued to grow due to consistent support.

“There’s no question that the common denominator is the organization and the commitment from the top,” she said. “The women cannot be successful if they don’t have leadership from the men’s side that believes in the product and puts resources into that product.”

While both franchises entered the WNBA with the backing of the NBA’s Indiana Pacers and Seattle SuperSonics, only the Fever remain attached to the men’s side as Seattle is owned independently.

Donovan continues to praise Indiana ownership.

“When I was here, our leadership was so supportive in building the franchise and being patient. That’s key as well because it doesn’t happen overnight,” she said. “The same thing in Seattle. They have great leadership, brought quality people on board and are committed to the process.”

Dunn echoes her coaching peer.

“Indiana is a first class organization that is fully committed to the team and the WNBA,” she says. “I think they’ve worked really hard not only to put together a really good team, but a team of great people.”

Those great people will be on full display during the Olympics in Beijing. Both franchises can also brag that they’ll be cheering on the US as well as Australia with Catchings (US), Bevilaqua (Australia), Jackson (Australia) and Bird (US) going for gold.