First Half Wrapup with Tamika Catchings

Tamika Catchings looks to lead the Fever to a championship in 2010
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The Indiana Fever had a chance to lock up a championship in 2009 but ultimately fell short in the process. Discouraging as that may be, the buzz around Fever camp at the midway point of the season so far remains a positive one. With the 2009 season behind them, Indiana is focusing only on the future.

Tamika Catchings remains confident in the team's ability to make a repeat run, only this time with a slightly different outcome. She recently sat down with to catch up on the Fever's season. What's your take on the 2010 Fever?

Catchings: I definitely look at our team as being one of the top teams in the East for sure, and in the league overall as well. Probably the biggest thing that we need to make an adjustment to is probably our rebounding. Just something we need to work on. But overall from a defensive perspective we have been doing really well as a team. And from an offensive perspective we�re just going to continue to get better and better. In speaking with a few other players during Stars at the Sun weekend, a good number of them said the Fever is the one team they�d least like to see in the playoffs. Why is that?

Catchings: Yes! Catch that fever baby! (laughs) We�re definitely known as a defensive team and that probably is one of the main reasons for us to get frustrated when we�re so committed and focused on the defensive end and we give up an offensive rebound at the end of it. I know for me that�s the biggest thing I�ve been talking about. The rebounding aspect. You say �defensive team,� but there�s often a misconception that a defense-first team can�t put up points. Right before the break you guys hit 100 against the Shock and have crossed the 80 or 90-point plateau a few times as well. So which is it? Defense or offense?

Catchings: We are a multi-dimensional team. (laughs) Defense definitely. When we go out and we focus, a majority of our focus is on our defense end. We get a lot of steals, a lot of fast breaks. We get better in our half-court set. First and foremost, defense wins games. Our mentality from 1-11 has to be defense. We have to get down and play hard-nosed defense and then you get the reward on the offensive end. Anything you want to see the Fever improve on in the second half, other than rebounding?

Catchings: Honestly, I would just say scratch the first half. I think sometimes when you try to move forward and keep looking backwards you�re going to get caught up in between. I think for us, where we want to be, one of my goals is to go 17-0 in the second half. Finish the season off, go into the playoffs, get to the Finals and win. I don�t want to just get to where we were. I want to get beyond and win that championship. Where do you have to be as a team to roll into the playoffs with the mentality that you guys are set and ready to go?

Catchings: I think we have to get to our peak. The beginning of the season started with players coming in late. It kind of felt like we didn�t get off well early on. For our team in particular, we had four starters who got here [late]. Our season kicked off the 17th and we got back the 14th. Even starting like that, everything had just come and gone so fast. Going here, going there. Flying here, flying there. Commercial flights everywhere. So I just like for us we just have to get back. This break has been good and hopefully we�ll be good for everyone to kind of refocus and shift back into gear. As a team though, you did have the benefit of having a roster where you did more or less retain the same group from last season. With players returning late around the league, how important was that to have that foundation already in place?

Catchings: Really important. I mean, you look at the teams that have won championships. The Houston Comets in those first four. The Sparks, Detroit. All the teams that have won, even Phoenix, have had that core group of players. Maybe one or two or three. And I think our players have gone overseas and gotten better. Our bench players aren�t the same players that they were last year. They�re shooting a lot better. Way more in tune. As runner-ups in last year�s Finals, is the team feeling any pressure to get back to the Finals and win it this time?

Catchings: We try not to talk just about the pressure standpoint. Every team in the league, their goal is the same as ours: to win a championship. So it�s kind of like for us, with caliber of players we have, it would be disappointing not to. It would real disappointing not to get back to the Finals and for me even more disappointing not to win it. Sometimes they say to win a championship you have to face losing it first. Last year was the closest we ever got to a championship. Now we know, we�ve been right there. Couple of plays here, couple plays there, we would�ve won the championship in four games and wouldn�t have even had to go to Phoenix. But just thinking of stuff like that is just�ugh. You can�t pretend that it never happened, but you feed off of that feeling. How you felt. This year we have the players that can do it. We just have to do. We all have to believe. People go through slumps whether shooting slumps, confidence slumps � whatever it may be. Pulling each other together and at the right time peaking.