Hodges brings deft touch to Fever

By Tom Rietmann | May 7, 2012

INDIANAPOLIS -- When Roneeka Hodges lofts one of her soft jump shots toward the basket, it's not immediately clear whether she's left-handed or right-handed. It has the look of a two-handed shot, with her hands positioned on the outer portions of the ball.

When her unconventional shooting style comes up in conversation, Hodges smiles.

“I'm not shooting with two hands; I'm left-handed,” insisted Hodges, one of the Indiana Fever's new players for 2012. “I think people just want to give me a hard time about it. But I always say that as long as it's going in, it's no problem for me.”

Such was the case last Saturday. The 5-foot-11 guard demonstrated her ample shooting skills in the Fever's 69-67 victory at San Antonio in the preseason opener for both clubs. Hodges led Indiana with 16 points as she hit 6-of-14 field goal attempts, including 4-of-8 from 3-point range.

Hodges spent the past two WNBA seasons playing for the Silver Stars in San Antonio. She came to Indiana during the offseason, acquired in a trade that sent forward Tangela Smith to the Silver Stars.

“It felt good,” Hodges said about her weekend performance at San Antonio. “But it felt good as far as just playing, getting out and being able to do what I do well. I wouldn't look at it necessarily as a revenge thing. I was in San Antonio for two years. It was a great opportunity for me, it was a great organization. Now I've moved on to Indiana and I'm just looking forward to bigger and better things.”

So is the Indiana team as it prepares for its preseason rematch against San Antonio on Wednesday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse (tipoff at noon). Hodges adds her talents to an array of perimeter players whom the Fever will likely rotate in a three-guard lineup. Starting her eighth professional season with her fourth WNBA team, she brings to Indiana a career 6.0 scoring average and a .352 accuracy mark from 3-point range.

“Now we have (Katie) Douglas, Hodges and (Jeanette) Pohlen who really can spread the floor and knock down 3s and open up the driving lanes,” said Fever Coach Lin Dunn. “(Hodges) is a veteran. She's not a baby in this league. She gives us a veteran presence.”

Fever star Tamika Catchings and Hodges' twin sister, Doneeka, were teammates for Indiana when the latter played here in 2008. But Catchings didn't get to know Roneeka until Indiana's training camp started on April 29. Catchings welcomes her arrival.

“I was very impressed with her first preseason game,” Catchings said about the Florida State graduate. “I like her demeanor. She's quiet, but she's professional.”

Hodges' best WNBA season came in 2009 when she started 27 games for Minnesota, averaging 9.9 points and hitting .398 from the arc in 27.3 minutes per game. But during the past two seasons in San Antonio, her minutes were reduced to 25.3 and then 9.8 per game. She views Indiana as “a fresh start, a chance to come here and try to make my mark.”

“I know that the past few years, Indiana has been really, really close to winning a championship,” she said. “I'm just looking to come in and contribute in whatever way I can and hopefully help us get over the hump.”

Roneeka and Doneeka Hodges, natives of New Orleans, recently became board members for the ACCESS Charter School for Girls in their home city. The school, for girls in grades three through six, was established by the Educated Change Foundation in New Orleans. It seeks to reduce academic distractions for underprivileged kids and help them benefit from opportunities that come from a quality education.

“We're in the process of laying the ground work” for the school, Roneeka Hodges said. “With us being on the board, it's an opportunity to give back to the community and show girls there is always hope. It doesn't matter what background you come from, or where you are from, whatever you put your mind to doing, you can do. It's being able to shed some light and give some advice and share some of my experiences as far as traveling the world.”

FEVER NOTES

-- A knee injury that will sideline Shyra Ely-Gash for the season has left the Fever with some uncertainty. Dunn said the team was planning on Ely-Gash to back up Catchings at the power forward position. Catchings is expected to play 25 to 30 minutes a game there. “I think we'll find the right person (to play behind Catchings),” Dunn said. Power forward candidates currently in camp include La'Tangela Atkinson and Erlana Larkins, both of whom are 6-1.

-- So far, so good with 6-5 center Sasha Goodlett, who was Indiana's top pick in the 2012 WNBA Draft. The former Georgia Tech athlete has not been shy at Fever practices. “She loves contact. She initiates contact,” Dunn said. “Sasha fits in with what we want to do, having a more physical presence in the post.”

-- Guard Erin Phillips is the only Fever player who has yet to arrive at training camp. The native Australian, who recently finished play overseas, is driving to Indianapolis after flying into Dallas. Dunn said Phillips is expected to join the Fever for practice on Thursday.

-- Dunn indicated she is unsettled about a starting lineup as the Fever prepares for its May 19 regular-season opener against Atlanta. The coach said Catchings will be at power forward and Douglas will be at one perimeter position, but “who will be the other three, I think that's still up for grabs.” Strength at the guard and wing positions should provide the Fever with plenty of options. “We're going to see who plays well together,” Dunn said.