Lithuanian Veteran Returns to Indiana
Indiana Fever Chief Operating Officer and General Manager Kelly Krauskopf has announced the free agent signing of veteran forward Jurgita Streimikyte (pronounced yur-GEE-tuh ∙ strem-uh-KEY-tuh).
Streimikyte, 32, played 54 games for Indiana during the 2000 and 2001 seasons – starting 26 games and averaging 9.1 points per game during 2001. She was Indiana’s second-round draft pick in 2000, the franchise’s first draft in the Women’s National Basketball Association. She appeared in 27 games during each of her first two WNBA seasons, but left the Fever prior to the 2002 season to give birth to her son, Tomas.
A native Lithuanian, she has played the past two years exclusively in Europe and has remained one of the continent’s best players.
Her return to the Fever is a major signing for Krauskopf and second-year Head Coach Brian Winters who will welcome an experienced, all-around veteran forward who can shoot, score, rebound and defend. She is another complement to returning Fever stars Tamika Catchings, Natalie Williams and Kelly Miller – and recently-signed point guard Tully Bevilaqua. Catchings was a rookie on the 2001 Fever team that featured Streimikyte, but a knee injury kept Catchings on the injured list and the two have never shared the court together, except in practice.
Currently, Streimikyte is helping lead Lietuvos Telekomus (Vilnius, Lithuania) in the FIBA EuroLeague quarterfinals after a 10-2 regular season EuroLeague record. The EuroLeague is regarded as the most competitive women’s pro league outside of the WNBA, with many WNBA players participating during the winter months. Teams play a domestic schedule within their own countries, and compete regularly against other top teams in EuroLeague – culminating with the EuroLeague Final Four in late April.
Streimikyte is averaging 16.4 ppg, 7.5 rpg and 2.8 apg this season, guiding a young Lithuanian squad into this week’s quarterfinals against Dynamo Moscow which features four WNBA stars including U.S. Olympian Sue Bird. In 2003, Streimikyte averaged 16.0 ppg, 8.5 rpg and 3.1 apg for Sopron (Hungary).
One of Streimikyte’s current teammates is Indiana native and former Purdue star Katie Douglas, who currently leads all EuroLeague scorers with 20.9 ppg. Streimikyte ranks seventh among EuroLeague scorers and is second to Douglas among team leaders in points and rebounds. Another Lietuvos teammate is former Fever draft pick Ieva Kublina, Indiana’s third-round selection in 2004.
Following the WNBA Draft on April 16, the Fever opens training camp on April 24 and begins the 2005 schedule hosting consecutive home games in May. Indiana hosts the Charlotte Sting on Sunday, May 22 (6:00 p.m.), and the Phoenix Mercury on Tuesday, May 24 (7:00 p.m.). For season ticket information, call (317) 917-2500.