Goodlett, Hodges, Larkins help Fever to opening-night victory
The Fever’s 2012 opening night was a success as Indiana defeated Atlanta 92-84. Indiana veterans Katie Douglas and Tamika Catchings paced the club in the scoring column, but just as important were contributions from three key newcomers – first-round draft pick Sasha Goodlett, free agent Erlana Larkins and trade acquisition Roneeka Hodges.
Douglas netted 21 points and Catchings added 16 for a team that has made the playoffs in seven consecutive seasons, and which has eight of its 11 players back from last year’s roster -- including 2011 MVP Catchings. The depth of the 2012 bench could be a key to clinching this year’s title.
The three newcomers combined for 10 of the Fever’s 47 first half points. They were the only three players to score off the bench in the first two periods.
Goodlett, first off the bench, replaced Jessica Davenport, who was in early foul trouble. She scored five quick points, including a 3-point play that was topped with a made free throw.
“It just felt great to be out there,” Goodlett said. “I was really nervous, but I felt like it was a pretty good experience.”
In her debut in a Fever uniform, Goodlett said she went into the game trying to take what the defense gave her.
One of the reasons Fever head coach Lin Dunn sought Goodlett during the draft was because of her rebounding ability. Goodlett finished with just one rebound, but expects to continue improving every day.
“The WNBA is a lot tougher than any other level,” Goodlett said. “Everyone is always crashing the boards, someone is always moving, so you can never just stop and think that you have the rebound. My focus is to pay attention to the little things like boxing out and pursuing the ball.”
Larkins, who clocked just over 11 minutes, finished with three boards, including two offensive. One of her offensive rebounds led to a put-back layin, which were the only two points she scored in the contest.
“I had a conversation with Coach Dunn before I even arrived to training camp, and she let me know that rebounding was something they needed to improve on,” Larkins said. “She told me she thought I could help the team do that. So when I go out there I just try to have a knack for the ball and when I see it going up I try to get good position.”
Hodges, the third new face on the Fever roster, acquired in a trade from San Antonio for Tangela Smith, scored a key 3-pointer in her 2:57 of play.
Hodges commented that though it is still early in the season, she thinks her role will be to “come in and provide some energy off the bench.”
Goodlett and Larkins’ focus on rebounding will give Indiana two more options down low, alongside Catchings, Davenport and Tammy Sutton-Brown, who did not play Saturday due to an ankle sprain. Hodges adds depth at the guard position, with 3-point range and a boost of energy on the perimeter. One win shy of reaching the WNBA Finals last season, the Fever is hungry for the 2012 title. Goodlett, Larkins and Hodges give the team more depth and may be the pieces needed to help Indiana reach its ultimate goal.