Power trio Briann January, Tamika Catchings and Katie Douglas are among the core players returning. NBAE/Getty Images
Jeanette Pohlen (currently injured)
Jessica Davenport (currently injured)
Erin Phillips (currently injured)
The Indiana Fever, collectively -- and Lin Dunn and Tamika Cathings, individually -- finally reached their goal last
season, winning the WNBA Championship in an unlikely upset of the defending champion Minnesota Lynx in a thrilling 2012
Finals showdown. But now the question must be asked, can they do it again?
Catchings, who as a three-time Olympic Gold Medalist, five-time WNBA Defensive Player of the Year, 2011 WNBA Most Valuable Player had achieved just about every individual accolade available, was single-minded of her pursuit of the WNBA Championship that had so long eluded her, but as 2013 approaches, she is transitioning from celebratory to go-win-another-one mode.
"We got that championship last year. Against all odds," said Catchings, who secured the 2012 WNBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award in leading the Fever past Maya Moore, Seimone Augustus, Lindsay Whalen and the Minnesota Lynx. "Lets face it, on paper when you looked at the two teams in the Finals, you had to know they were going to win. But for us, it was like mind over matter. We didnt care what people thought, or how it looked on paper. We concentrated on what happened on the court. Katie [Douglas] went down, and players stepped up. Jeanette [Pohlen) went down and players stepped up."
After permitting herself one last look at past glory, Catchings immediately looked to future.
"But, Im still motivated to win the WNBA Championship in 2013, probably more now than ever," said Catchings. "I think this year, now that we know what we are capable of, and if we can stay healthy, we can stay strong and make another run. One thing Ive always been conscious of is when you have success, how to you sustain and build on it to do it again? Thats the motivation."
Unfortunately for the Fever, the healthy part isn't exactly working out well as the season approaches. Three key members of last year's championship squad -- Jeanette Pohlen, Jessica Davenport and Erin Phillips -- are currently out of the lineup due to injury, which leaves Head Coach Lin Dunn in quite a quandary.
"Well, our hope is that now that we've lost (Jeanette) Pohlen, (Jessica) Davenport and Erin Phillips and they
won't be back until probably mid-season is that we'll get some relief," said Dunn. "But I think you can expect us to start ... Friday night at San Antonio with nine players. I'm hoping for nine. So we'll just do the best that we can do with what we've got and not worry about what we don't have."
One thing Dunn will not be worrying about is the fact that with the "3 To See" -- Brittney Griner (Phoenix Mercury), Elena Delle Donne (Chicago Sky) and Skylar Diggins (Tulsa Shock) -- garnering lots of headlines, and two Western Conference powers -- the Candace Parker-led Los Angeles Sparks and the aforementioned 2011 WNBA Champion Minnesota Lynx -- also looking strong, the Fever may be able to slip into the season under the radar.
"I think we'd certainly prefer to be the hunter versus the hunted," said Dunn. "And the fact that we sustained some injuries early with some of our players and they're recovering from off-season surgery, I do think we'll be overlooked and that's fine. I don't take that the wrong way. When you come back and a couple key players aren't available, I think the other people are going to get a little more attention."
With Catchings, Katie Douglas, Briann January, Erlana Larkins, Shavonte Zellous and rookie Layshia Clarendon healthy and raring to go, don't bet against Indiana gaining attention once the post-season arrives.
2012 LEADERS Scoring
1. Tamika Catchings (17.4)
2. Katie Douglas (16.5)
3. Briann January (10.3)