Apr 20, 2017
Tamika Catchings casts a shadow far bigger than her frame; one could say it's large enough to cover the entire Indiana Fever organization.
For the first time in 15 years the Fever enter training camp without their legendary superstar Catchings. While she is still a part of the organization, not having her leadership and stability on the court changes the whole dynamic of the Fever team.
Add to that a new coach in Pokey Chatman, the first time in ten years either Lin Dunn or her hand picked successor Stephanie White has not led the team, and camp should be very interesting for Indiana this season.
It is a pleasure to welcome coach Chatman back to the Dishin & Swishin podcast.
After playoff years in Chicago, the Sky organization felt a need to shake things up and replaced Chatman as head coach. She was not unemployed for long, as Indiana swooped in and hired her to lead the Fever almost immediately.
Replacing Catchings will be more of a challenge. She not only was the go-to scorer, she was one of the best defenders and most respected leaders in the entire WNBA.
Briann January and Erlana Larkins will certainly be the heir apparent on the defensive end, and will be called up on to be more vocal leaders than in years past. January, who was named an assistant coach at Arizona State this week, as point guard is the most obvious person.
Offensively, the talent is there to fill Catchings' Nikes. Marissa Coleman, Shenise Johnson, and newly acquired Candice Dupree are just a few of the skilled offensive players in camp.
Defensively, as Chatman says on the podcast, it will be about keeping people out of the paint, either physically like Larkins and Devereaux Peters, or challenging and altering shots like Natalie Achonwa and rookie Erica McCall can do.
This is the first time Chatman is in camp as a head coach only, with Kelly Krauskopf the longtime Fever President and General Manager, and Chatman likes the dynamic working with Krauskopf already. In addition to Catchings being in the front office, longtime fan favorite and ex-Fever point guard Tully Bevilaqua has returned to the organization on Chatman's staff as well.
Fever fans could be forgiven if they expected the worst losing both Catchings and White after last season, but Krauskopf has pushed all the right buttons to turn those frowns into smiles, with an energetic coach, new players, and keeping the old guard around the team.
Whether the other teams in the WNBA feel the same way, we shall see. As Chatman says on Dishin & Swishin, everyone got better. Only time will tell if this is a playoff team.
Enjoy the podcast!