Indianapolis, IN — The Indiana Fever are in their first season under Head Coach Pokey Chatman, and are working to implement her style and prove themselves on the court as a team that can handle transition.
At the Fever’s media day today in Banker’s Life Fieldhouse, players said Chatman’s style and new perspectives are having a positive outcome on the team. Forward Candice Dupree said even Chatman’s personality benefits their performance.
“As players, we feed off of her energy,” Dupree said. “Pokey just loves the game and the passion of the game. It rubs off on the players.”
Chatman said that one of her main focuses during the preseason has been improving the team defensively. The team has specifically been focusing on transition defense and rebounds. “It’s something we can improve that could bring us to top three instead of top six,” Chatman said. “Indiana’s always had good defense. We’re just looking to advance it.
Heading into her ninth year with the Fever, guard Briann January said simplification will be a key factor in success.
“The focus in in the details,” January said. “Whenever we’ve broken things down that way, we’ve been successful. Getting back to basics helps us lock in and play our best basketball.”
The Fever will also focus on developing not only defense, but also both new and younger players. Forward Erica McCall was drafted by the Fever in the second round as 17th overall pick of the 2017 WNBA Draft. Chatman said she’s crazy about the rookie and still cannot believe Erica was still available with the 17th pick.
“With her energy and the way she’s picked up certain things, she’ll be able to affect the game while she’s learning at this level,” Chatman said.
McCall stated that her goal is to make an impact during her first year with the Fever and to make the all-rookie team. She described her strongest feelings while starting her professional career as feeling humbled and blessed to be living out her dream of playing professional basketball.
With so many new faces on the roster this year, a mix of new personalities and a time of building relationships, the Fever’s team chemistry remains resilient.
“I feel like a freshman again,” laughed McCall, who has just left Stanford University. “Everything’s been pretty smooth. It’s all new… even going into the locker room still and getting to know everybody still feels new. But just like when you’re a freshman, and there are seniors to guide you, the vets here do the same thing. I love them all, I can’t imagine being on a different team”
The Fever won’t have the luxury of being eased into the season as their schedule sends them directly into some of what will be their toughest match-ups of the year.
“Mental toughness is going to get us through those hard parts of the season,” Dupree said. “We’ve been putting in a lot of work day in and day out. It’s hard on your body, and that’s where mentality comes in. We’re going to need that when the season becomes extremely competitive.”
Coach Chatman said that her team is ready to face the season with excitement and the determination to consistently improve and showcase their hard-earned skills.
“This is a smart group with a great core. I’m not asking them to reinvent anything but just to continue the trend and help our game. I want to help them embrace their talent,” Chatman said.