In 2006 the Indiana Fever led the WNBA in total defense and steals. Teammates Tamika Catchings and Tully Bevilaqua led the league in steals, first and second, respectively. They made the playoffs for a second straight year as the 3rd seed. The season fell short when they lost 2-0 to the eventual champions, the Detroit Shock in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals. The Fever also made a new rival that season, the Chicago Sky, referred to as the "I-65" rivalry because of Interstate 65 connecting Indianapolis and Chicago.
2006 In Review
What Went Right?
The Indiana Fever featured eight new players on their roster in 2006, building stability on the sidelines to aid their franchise player. Yet the Fever have continued to improve each regular season. They finished with a franchise-best 21-13 record and a third-place finish in the Eastern Conference.
Once again, All-Planet superstar Tamika Catchings led the way for Indiana, but the Fever got tremendous production out of the supporting cast as well. Catchings and Tully Bevilaqua became the first teammates to both average over 2.0 steals in the same season (which landed the Fever in the top spot in the league for steals per game). Forward Tamika Whitmore averaged a career-best 15.5 ppg and was named to the Eastern Conference All-Star Team for the first time in her career.
Yet it was still Catchings who again led the Fever in the major statistical categories. She finished in the top 10 in the league for points per game (16.3), assists per game (3.7), blocks per game (1.1), steals per game (2.9), free throws (165) and rebounds per game (7.5). Catchings' honors included Defensive Player of the Year, All-WNBA First Team, All-Defensive Team and All-Decade Team. The fans also recognized her accomplishments as she received the most votes for an Eastern starting spot at the WNBA All-Star Game (though she sat out due to a knee injury).
What Went Wrong?
Apparently Catchings' success was not contagious. The Fever fell into the bottom five in the league for points scored, defensive rebounds per game, field goal percentage, assists and turnovers. Despite the emergence of Whitmore and the 10.2 ppg and 3-point shooting of Anna DeForge, the Fever still depend too much on one person.
Despite 21 wins in the regular season, they were swept out in the first round of the playoffs by the Detroit Shock. Catchings was forced to miss much of the second game after incurring an injury while fighting for a loose ball. The Fever actually led 64-43 in the second half, but center Ebony Hoffman joined Catchings on the bench due to foul trouble and the game went south for Indiana. Although Tamika Whitmore scored a record 41 points, the losses of key players in the second half did them in.
Looking Ahead To 2007
The Fever have made great strides in the past three seasons and have a nucleus in place, but they are not content to rest on their recent improvements. The first priority was to re-sign its backcourt tandem of point guard Tully Bevilaqua, who makes the Fever go, and Anna DeForge, who gives the Fever a credible scoring threat from outside.Kelly Krauskopf expressed.
Just before the Draft, they also pulled off one of the major free agent signings of the offseason, inking center Tammy Sutton-Brown to a new deal. Sutton-Brown has been a consistent performer on both ends since joining the WNBA in 2001. With the Sting last season, she averaged 11.2 ppg and 5.9 rpg. She is a former All-Star and a regular on the Canadian National Team.
In the Charlotte Dispersal Draft, Indiana picked up guard Sheri Sam. Averaging 11.4 ppg over her distinguished career, Sam will give the Fever an additional scoring option. She also will make the Fever a better defensive team as she finished 11th in the league with 1.6 steals per game in 2006. The team also traded La'Tangela Atkinson to Sacramento for a future pick (to make room for Sutton-Brown) as well as veteran Olympia Scott for youngster Ann Strother, who has yet to prove what she is capable of doing at this level.
On April 4, 2007, The Fever selected center Alison Bales, from Duke University, with their first round pick (9th overall). They also drafted point guard Lydsay Medders from Iowa State University and Ashley Key from North Carolina State University. Later that April the Fever sent their 2008 3rd Round Draft Pick to the Sacramento Monarchs for Jessica Dickson of University of South Florida. Indiana already has a superstar and looks to complement her with role players.
So with another offseason full of player movement, the only question is whether or not all of the roster changes can finally get Indiana past Detroit and Connecticut. The team will retain all five starters for the first time in franchise history, plus add Sam and Sutton Brown...that’s pretty significant. So the Fever will compete in the East again, but need to get consistent scoring and rebounding in the postseason if they want to advance to the ultimate level as a franchise.
|Tamika Catchings||16.3||Tamika Catchings||7.5||Tamika Catchings||3.7|
|Tamika Whitmore||15.5||Ebony Hoffman||5.7||Tully Bevilaqua||2.3|
|Anna DeForge||10.2||Tamika Whitmore||4.9||Anna DeForge||2.2|
The Indiana Fever began as a WNBA expansion franchise in 2000. They have made the WNBA playoffs three times in their history, most recently in 2006 when they lost to the eventual champion Detroit Shock. Read More...
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