Indiana Fever head coach Stephanie White made history by guiding her team to the WNBA Finals, becoming the first coach in WNBA history to lead a team to the WNBA Finals in her first year as a head coach.
Now they have a chance to add more history to a franchise that has experienced its fair share of success since joining the league in 2000. Let’s take a look at some of the top moments from the Indiana Fever’s season.
Tamika Catchings 101
Ask any Fever player who the heartbeat of their team is and they’ll quickly tell you it’s Tamika Catchings. The 14-year veteran, who is playing in her second-to-last season, is already an all-time great. She’s accomplished so much throughout her career, and yet here she is with an opportunity to add another bullet point to her career resume.
Earlier this year, Catchings detailed what type of music best describes her play, the players she looked up to before entering the league and her “welcome to the WNBA” moment.
Stephanie White wins first game
After numerous years on the sidelines as an assistant coach, Stephanie White was named the successor to Lin Dunn on September 23, 2014. She was the perfect fit, too. An Indiana native who has spent most of her life in the Hoosier state, White was familiar with the franchise. Her previous three seasons were spent as an assistant under Dunn.
After a rocky 0-3 start, White began to steady the ship and earned her first victory as head coach in a 77-74 contest against the Phoenix Mercury.
Catchings becomes No. 2 all-time scorer
The 2015 season was filled with all-time accomplishments for Tamika Catchings. The list is long, but the moment that perhaps tops the list happened in late July against the Connecticut Sun. Fever guard Briann January drove toward the basket before kicking the ball out to Catchings for a wide open three-point attempt. She drained it, passing Diana Taurasi to become No. 2 on the WNBA’s all-time scoring list.
Coleman named to first All-Star team
Tamika Catchings is without a doubt the catalyst for the Fever, but their success this season has been due in large part to the production of Marissa Coleman. The seven-year veteran put together a brilliant season, but the first half of her season earned Coleman an All-Star nod – the first of her career.
Coleman has carried her regular season momentum into the postseason. She was huge in Indiana’s second-half comeback in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals, hitting two massive three-pointers down the stretch.
Against All Odds: Fever Knock Off Chicago Sky in East Semis
Nobody gave Indiana a chance. Even when the critics said the Eastern Conference was wide open, it was Elena Delle Donne and the Chicago Sky who were seen as the favorites to move on to the Eastern Conference Finals.
But if the past has taught us anything, it’s that you simply cannot count out a Tamika Catchings-led Fever team.
The Fever dropped the first game and returned home to Bankers Life Fieldhouse with an understanding of the task before them. Simply put, they had to be near perfect. White’s team had to win at home and then close out the series on the road.
With the help of Catchings’ otherworldly performances, that’s exactly what they did. Indiana dropped Chicago at home and then hit the road and beat the Sky in a game where the league MVP scored 40 points. Against all odds, in the face of their doubters, the Fever persevered.
Been there, done that: Indiana tops Liberty to become Eastern Conference Champs
The Eastern Conference Finals began just like the previous series for the Fever, but this time the pressure did not feel the same. After all, they’d been in the same position they found themselves in when Game 2 tipped. Down a game, backs against the wall with an opportunity to defend their home floor and force a winner-take-all game on the road.
Easy. Or at least that’s how Indiana made it look. Powered by tenacious defense and timely shooting, the Fever overcame an 18-point deficit and forced a decisive Game 3.
In that third game, the timely shooting continued. Marissa Coleman drained five three-point buckets and silenced the Madison Square Garden Crowd on numerous occasions. Indiana’s experience helped guide them over the top-seeded Liberty and set the stage for a 2012 WNBA Finals rematch against the Minnesota Lynx.
Now, they’ll embark on one last series, with a chance to make history. As noted before, White is the first head coach in WNBA history to make the Finals with no prior head coaching experience. Indiana and White have a chance to take that even further and win the whole thing.
And then there’s Catchings. In what she has said is her second-to-last season, the Fever are within three wins of earning the second championship of her illustrious career. That alone has been enough motivation for the rest of her teammates, and it will undoubtedly drive them in the WNBA Finals.