INDIANAPOLIS — As the final horn sounded and the Indiana Fever retreated to the locker room after Game 2 of the WNBA Finals 2015 presented by Boost Mobile, forward Tamika Catchings was fuming. She was frustrated for a myriad of reasons, none larger than the feeling that the Fever had missed an opportunity to take a 2-0 series lead in a game where she was in foul trouble.
In the postgame press conference Catchings said she told the team to bottle up their frustrations, let it fester and then explode on the court in Game 3. As the series has shifted to Indianapolis that fire and frustration is still present with the Fever.
“I’m extremely excited,” center Erlana Larkins said ahead of Game 3. “I mean, after Game 2 we were pissed. We were pissed. We’re just ready to get back on the court. It’s a great thing to be back here in front of our fans, and they’re going to cheer us on and hopefully cheer us on to a victory.”
The Fever have been known to be a passionate bunch. After all, their core of Briann January, Shavonte Zellous, Erlana Larkins and Catchings were all members of Indiana’s 2012 WNBA championship team. They understand how hard it is to not only get to the Finals, but to take home the ultimate prize.
That understanding is what fueled the frustration in the Fever’s veteran-laden locker room following Game 2.
“We just have to focus on what we can control,” said Zellous. “Game 2 is over. We let that slip away from us. Rebounding was huge. They killed us on the boards. Our turnovers were huge because it led to them getting points in transition. Yeah, we were frustrated about Game 2, and that’s just how it happened. Like [Catchings] said, we have everything bottled up, and we’re just so excited to get ready for Game 3.”
Zellous has spent most of her career in Indiana playing alongside Catchings. She’s seen Tamika in her most fiery, passionate moments. But she says the intensity and fire Catchings displayed following Game 2 was on a level she had never seen.
“Out of the six years I’ve played with [Catchings], absolutely not,” Zellous said. “So when she’s that fired up you know she means business.”
Indiana returned to the drawing board Thursday afternoon, assessing the mistakes that Minnesota capitalized on in Game 2. The Fever turned the ball over 16 times, including 13 in the second half. Minnesota’s defensive pressure – especially on the perimeter with guards Anna Cruz and Renee Montgomery – caused fits for Indiana.
“We went through some stuff today and really tweaked some things,” January said, “so we know our direction. We know where our focus needs to be, what we’re trying to get on both ends of the court. I think that will help us give us some direction so that we can put all that energy and all that passion that our group has, because I know it’s a ton. We’re chomping at the bit. I know everybody’s ready to play today, but we have one more day and tomorrow hopefully we let all that out and channel that into a win.”
As far as Catchings goes, she’s more locked in than she has been all postseason. The 14-year veteran held court with reporters after practice and was clear that her team is focused on sharpening its game to correct the errors that plagued Indiana just a few short nights ago.
And that bottled up frustration?
“It’s still full,” Catchings said with a smile on her face. “I think we had a really good day at practice today. Everybody seems really excited, really focused. You can tell people’s minds – even talking in the locker room before practice – everybody is ready to go. The morale is just really high.”