Protecting Home Court in Saturday’s Opener

May 18, 2006
There’s a common theme in the Fever’s locker room as the team prepares for its season opener this weekend. Opening night is always exciting. However with this year’s opener being at home, it is important to protect the home court. The Fever opens the 2006 regular season on Saturday night when the club hosts the Detroit Shock at Conseco Fieldhouse. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.

The Fever roster is comprised of a solid mix of young players and experienced veterans, all who understand that the first game of the season, although not necessarily a make-or-break game, can be important in setting a tone for the team and fans, alike.

Here are some individual Fever thoughts as the team approaches Saturday’s season opener:

Head Coach Brian Winters
“Detroit is one of the best teams in the East. It’s a home game for us and you always want to win at home. That’s obvious. If we happen to not win the game, it’s not the end of the world. Nonetheless, we want to get off to a good start and take care of our home court. The way you win in professional basketball is you win on your home court and then you take it out on the road and try and win as many as you can. But you want to control your home court if you can do it. So, for that reason alone, it never really matters who you are playing. Detroit’s going to be one of the top teams in the league and one of our rivals in our attempt to win the East. They’re a very formidable team. So I’m expecting a knock-down, physical, very tough game.”

Guard Anna DeForge
“I think the first game of the season is always exciting. It’s what you look forward to throughout the offseason. Training camp can be brutal. Training camp is the time when you look forward to games coming around. If you are at home for the first game of the season in front of your home fans, you always want to get off to a good start. I love playing in front of the home crowd, so I’m excited that we get to open up at home. The first game sets the tone for your season, so for me, I am really looking forward to opening night. I’m looking forward to us opening at home, getting off to the right start and getting that “W” to protect our home court.”

Guard Tully Bevilaqua
“I think there’s always a bit more excitement in anticipation of the first game because it’s the start of a new season. You’ve spent so many months preparing for it … and then it’s finally here. And this year it’s at home. So, I think for that reason there’s more excitement built up for this one. In my mind, it has just as much importance as the last game of the regular season. We play to win whether it is our first game or last game. We try and approach them all with the same mentality.”

Forward Tamika Whitmore
“I think our home opener is going to be very important. Because I don’t feel like a lot of people are giving us a chance to be competitive this year. I think they just go by the personnel you have and what they think players can do individually without considering what we can do together as a unit. I think this team is going to be very competitive.”

Center Ebony Hoffman
“For the first game of the season there will be a lot of nerves. That’s just because it’s the first game. We have a good mix of young players and experienced players, but I think we’re all excited and ready to get going. I think there are a number of different things going on in the first game. We’ll be getting to know one another on the court and building chemistry as we go. I think we played well with each other during the two preseason games and now we just need to go out and execute against Detroit. I don’t really value one game over another. Every game is important. We have to win road games and we have to win home games. The more we win, the more distance we can create between ourselves and the competition.”

Forward Charlotte Smith
“I typically try not to get too caught up in opening night. Emotionally, I’m pretty even-keel. But I know that this first game really means a lot. I want this first game to make a statement throughout the entire league. I don’t want to just win, I want to dominate teams and I think it’s very important to make a statement early.”

Forward La’Tangela Atkinson
“I’m really excited about playing in my first WNBA regular season game. As a team we worked hard in training camp to prepare for the season. I want to go out, play well, try not to do too much and help my team win in any way I can. I’m just excited because we are about to set the tone for the season.”

Guard K.B. Sharp
“To me, it’s not just another game. It’s the first game of the season. It’s what sets the tone for your season. We’re obviously very excited. I think there’s a lot more nerves that come into play for the very first game as compared to any other game during the regular season. But it’s a good nervousness and it creates a positive energy. Everybody’s ready to get after it. I’m glad we are opening at home because there is a philosophy in basketball at any level, which is that you have to protect your home floor.”

Forward Linda Fröhlich
“This game is actually very special for me personally for a couple of different reasons. Saturday’s game will be my first game back after not playing in the WNBA for the past two years. And in addition to that, I have my husband’s family reunion here in Indianapolis this weekend. They actually moved it here so we could all be together. I’m going to have roughly 30 family members at the game. So, this game is extra special for me. They are my family here in America and I’m just excited we can all be together. You always want to play well regardless of what game it is. And you always want to play well in front of the home crowd.”