Q&A: Krauskopf Discusses Fever Injury Woes

Kelly Krauskopf with Katie Douglas

June 27, 2013

Indiana Fever President & GM Kelly Krauskopf has been among the WNBA’s most active general managers over her 14-season tenure, and she is largely credited with constructing the Fever championship team of 2012. But never has she encountered the rash of bad luck and injuries that she and her franchise have endured early in the 2013 season.

In light of Indiana’s six different injuries and its 1-7 record entering Friday’s game with Tulsa, Krauskopf spent time with FeverBasketball.com to outline the series of events and how the club plans to move forward.

FeverBasketball.com: First, we have six players down at the same time. How did this situation occur?

Kelly Krauskopf: “I will say that if we look back prior to training camp, there were some ominous signs. It actually started when I signed Laura Harper as a free agent (in February). Laura Harper is a 6’4’’ post player from the University of Maryland and has solid experience in the league and was having a good season over in Europe. She was signed as a backup post player, essentially to fill the spot vacated by Tammy Sutton-Brown. Just before the WNBA Draft in April though, I was informed that she had injured her knee and had decided to retire from playing in the WNBA.

“That was shocking news. By that point, we had lost opportunities to sign other experienced post players. Also, we still had [Jessica] Davenport in the mix so we felt pretty good about our posts. But when we got into training camp Shyra Ely tore her Achilles. She was another potential player that could have made our roster in terms of our post rotation. Then we got the news about Davenport’s stress fracture. Then, Erin [Phillips]’s knee started bothering her and we got more bad news.”

“It was one thing, right after another. I certainly had no idea that it would lead to where we are today – especially with Katie, Tamika, and Layshia Clarendon now missing time.”

FB: Can you discuss how this situation is perhaps more dramatic in a league like the WNBA, with such a short schedule?

KK: “Every year, everybody in this league knows that injuries are part of the fate of a WNBA season. We were very fortunate last year for the most part. Every team has to withstand nagging injuries and players missing one or two games. The nature of our injuries have been so significant that you're talking two, three, four, five weeks and that’s been the most difficult part of this. In a WNBA season when you play 34 games in about 115 days, it is tough to get in a situation like we are.”

“The only option is to continue adding people to the roster, but at that point you lose any continuity and you lose a lot of what you have worked so hard to do, which is to get your core group playing together.”

“As we saw last season, it takes chemistry to really have a successful team. The on-court chemistry so far isn’t the same, and it can’t be with so many new players – particularly when the new players have not been part of our system. ”

FB: What type of philosophy do you carry going forward, with this unusual situation?

KK: “I give all of the players credit and the coaches credit, that are out there right now working their tails off to do everything they can to get us in the win column. We are down right now – but we are certainly not out. Lin has done a terrific job in staying positive and pushing the group that we have on the floor. There have been a lot of good things that have happened from a player development standpoint. Karima Christmas has really improved and we have our rookie Layshia Clarendon who has also been battling injuries who is getting some valuable time. Sasha Goodlett is getting some valuable time. There have been a lot of what I call ‘small victories’ and things that we notice that the general public may not notice in terms of development.”

“We also know that we are the defending champs and nobody cares that you have five or six players missing from last year. They just want to beat you.”

FB: Is there ever a point where you alter your thinking, in terms of eventual expectations for the playoffs or another championship?

KK: “Realistically, based on it being so early in a short season, we are just trying to win the next game. We just want to get better. We want to develop players and we want to try and win the next game. As we continue getting people back, we will begin to get our core group back and focus on what our next goal is. You have to re-adjust and look at the reality of the situation.”

FB: In the home game against Chicago last week, the team played as if it was inspired and the crowd got behind them. Talk about the mindset of getting better.

KK: “Visiting teams know that we have terrific fan support. They literally carried us when we had our home games in the playoffs last year. We can feel their support now. Our core fans and sponsors and people that have been around our franchise for a long time, they see it, they know we are a bit shorthanded but their support is there. I can’t thank them enough because we are facing some adverse conditions right now.”

“We are still spending a lot of hours in the training room and rehab areas but the fight and the spirit and the will that this group of players has right now is as strong as I have ever seen it. It’s going to pay off – one way or another.”