Moore, Davenport fill post position

By Amber Harding
On June 9, 2009, in the first quarter of the Indiana Fever’s home game against the Seattle Storm, the Fever had a scary moment. Yolanda Griffith tore her Achilles tendon, and suddenly Indiana was without its seven-time WNBA All-Star and former WNBA MVP.

But the show must go on, and the Fever coaching staff has found two players to help fill the void that Griffith’s injury created. Jessica Moore and Jessica Davenport, both acquired in mid-June, bring the size and leadership needed to thrive in the post.

Moore believes that she can play an important role in the success of her team. And with the recent loss of Tammy Sutton-Brown to a nagging toe injury, Moore has been pressed into duty.

“Being consistent is what I try to do every single game,” Moore said. “I try to go out there and rebound, run the floor, play great defense and make open shots.” Moore has been a model of consistency since joining the Fever, grabbing at least two rebounds in all but two games this season. She has shown consistency with at least 2.5 points and 2.5 rebounds in every game – and she came up big in a July 28 win over Washington, playing 21 minutes with five rebounds while Tammy Sutton-Brown was first hampered by her right big toe.

Since then, Moore has made two starts and scored in double figures each time.

Davenport, too, considers consistency to be a crucial aspect of her game.

“I need to be more consistent on rebounding,” Davenport said. “I think defense will be there because we play great team defense.”

Even though Moore and Davenport are now filling Griffith’s position on the court, she is still an active member of the Fever team. She attends practices and games and constantly offers advice to her young counterparts.

“She’s a great post player,” Moore said. “She’s been in the league for a really long time, so whenever she says something, I try my best to take heed. She’s always saying to be patient and do whatever it is that we do best.”

Griffith is already impressed with the new players’ abilities.

“Davenport’s strength is her height,” Griffith said. “She’s another big body that we needed after my injury.” Davenport is starting to use that height to her advantage. After only block three shots in her first six games with the Fever, the former Ohio State star followed that stretch with four blocked shots over the next four games. She also added 12 points at Chicago on July 10, and she was the Fever’s leading scorer with 13 points at San Antonio on July 23.

Moore’s biggest contribution, Griffith explained, is her veteran leadership. After playing for the Los Angeles Sparks for three years – including starting all five games in their 2006 Playoff run – Moore has already found success in the league.

“She has quickness,” Griffith said. “She has great footwork and is a threat on the defensive end. She brings a lot of energy and smarts on the floor.”

For Davenport, being surrounded by veterans is invaluable in helping her improve her game.

“It helps a lot because everybody’s always talking to you,” Davenport said. “They’re giving you hints on how to play defense, hints on how to play offense, and also just making sure we’re taken care of off the court. That helps a lot coming to a new city.”

With over half the Fever roster possessing five or more years of WNBA experience, this lineup is full of basketball knowledge.

“Having veterans on the team is always great because they’ve been through it all,” Moore said. “They know what to expect. And the best thing about this team is that they have so many great players who have played together for a long time, so the chemistry is there.”

The new posts have appreciated their mentoring, and they’ve taken the advice to heart.

“They’re young, and they want to get better,” Griffith said. “It’s a great thing that these players still want to learn the game of basketball.”

The loss of Griffith was undoubtedly a setback to the Indiana Fever, but the addition of Moore and Davenport was a vital move because, as Griffith explained, “Tammy (Sutton-Brown) and Ebony (Hoffman) can’t play the whole game without getting a break.”

“When they’re coming off the bench, it’s key that they have a lot of energy and play their positions well,” Griffith said.