Catchings, veteran juggler of Fever and National Team

May 17, 2012

The face of the Fever, Tamika Catchings, is not only striving for her first WNBA championship this season; she is also hoping to win her third gold medal in the 2012 Olympics. After scoring 19 points to lead Team USA in an exhibition victory over China on Saturday, Catchings spoke with FeverBasketball.com’s Becca Bornhorst.

FeverBasketball.com: How does it feel to be playing again after rehabbing your foot this winter and not being able to play overseas? Do you feel behind at all or do you feel up to speed and ready to start the WNBA season?

Tamika Catchings: “I definitely feel up to speed. Actually, my body feels a lot better and more rested. Through the injury itself, yes it’s unfortunate to have been hurt and to not have the opportunity to play overseas, but I think from a longevity standpoint, it will really be good for me.”

FB: Not only is the WNBA season beginning, but the Olympics are right around the corner, as well. What is it like balancing the WNBA season and the Olympic season at the same time? For example, you were in Seattle this past weekend practicing with Team USA and now you are preparing for opening night on Saturday with the Fever.

TC: “For me it’s not really that hard. As a basketball player, being able to do something you love is a gift in itself, but having the opportunity to be able to represent your country and to be able to play here in the WNBA in your own country is a blessing. Wherever I’m at it’s just about playing in the moment and not trying to get ahead of myself. When I was in Seattle I thought about the USA team and then of course being back here I just try to figure out how to make our team better.”

FB: What is it like playing against your Olympic teammates during the WNBA season? For example, this Saturday you will play against Angel McCoughtry (Atlanta Dream), who you practiced with this past weekend and will play alongside in July.

TC: “It’s a little weird, especially after the Olympics, when you’ve spent so much time together, right in the midst of the WNBA season. For a month you’re Olympic teammates and then you go back to the WNBA—that’s probably the time when it feels the weirdest. It won’t be weird now, it’ll be weird later.”

FB: Are there any adjustments you have to make, playing for Coach Dunn and Coach Auriemma (USA) with regard to team system and coaching style?

TC: “With the Olympic team, we move a lot and we do a lot of pinch-post stuff. With the Fever we actually do a lot of pinch-post stuff too, so me moving to the 4 position this season will work in my favor. I think having the experience of being closer to the basket for the first couple of months (of the WNBA season) will actually work well for me when it comes Olympic time.”

FB: It is an incredible accomplishment participating in three consecutive Olympics and already winning two gold medals. Is there any chance you have a fourth one in you for the 2016 Olympics? If not, how special will this summer’s games be?

TC: “This summer is going to be my last one, and it’s definitely going to be memorable and real special. I just think about the players that are coming up behind me – we have a lot of great young talent that is coming out of college in these next couple of years and the opportunity for them to play on the Olympic Team doesn’t arise without having somebody give up their space or their spot. My family is going to be in London and it’s going to be a lot of fun and there will be a lot of great times. I’m looking forward to playing with these youngsters that we have.”

FB: Switching gears and looking ahead to this weekend, what are you most excited about for opening night of the Fever season?

TC: “I’m excited about playing again after finishing off the season last year being hurt and not finishing the season like we’d hoped as a team. I’m healthy again, I’m feeling good, and I’m pretty much well-rested. I’m just looking forward to getting out there and I’m excited about my teammates being back and us being back in action.”

FB: You play Atlanta, which is the team that ended your season last year. Though you were hurt in that series, does this match up give you a little extra fuel for Saturday night?

TC: “I wouldn’t say extra fuel. Right after the season ends I guess you could say I always go through a little mini depression; but looking ahead to this game, it’s not really about what happened last year and who we’re playing as much as it is getting off to a good start and continuing to build off of the first game.”