HOME OPENER TOMORROW! Fever Week(end) begins!

This weekend, the Sky will be playing the defending Eastern Conference champs twice in a Saturday-Sunday home-and-home series. The front end of this back-to-back is also the Sky’s home opener…and their first regular-season game at Allstate Arena…as well as an opportunity for them to get their first 2010 win. Whew, it’s gonna be a big weekend for the Sky!

To prep for the big Sky/Fever “BATTLE OF THE WINLESS” games this weekend, I’ve been chatting it up with Sam from the fantastic new blog, FeverWeek.net

We’ve spent the last few days exchanging opinions on our respective teams while trying to jumpstart a heated Sky/Fever rivalry by, uh, being completely cordial and respectful to each other LoL :-). In all seriousness though, I don’t know if a Sky/Fever rivalry will ever develop because (a) Chicagoans love Tamika Catchings too darn much, (2) practically all Sky fans were Fever fans before the Sky existed and (3) most rivalries are made in the, uh, playoffs…

Anyway, in order to get some further insight into this Fever team, I asked Sam some questions regarding this 2010 Indy team…

[Question 1] How does the ’09 team compare to the ’10 team? Better? Worse? What have you gained? What have you lost? Where have you improved? Where have you regressed?

Additions: Jené Morris (11th pick in the draft), Allie Quigley (5 mpg avg)
Losses: Tamecka Dixon (retired), Christina Wirth (5.8 mpg avg)

The Fever ran away with the Eastern Conference last year with that 20 wins in the final 22 games of the season. For this reason mainly, the team has felt its on the rest of the conference to make adjustments.

“We tried to keep everything pretty much the same,” said head coach Lin Dunn. In Lin Dunn’s folksy world, I imagine “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” was the watchword for the offseason.

The main issue is that all of our older veterans have really played hard and physical overseas into an extended postseason and are now back into another four or five month grind. Yikes! They’re playing a more grueling season than the NBA!

[Question 2] Do the Fever pretty much feel as if they have the eastern conference locked up? Is anyone a legit contender or considered a threat? If yes, who?

Of course not! Well, I guess… yes, they do!

As Jene Morris summarizes, the team was 3 minutes from a title, so it’s really up to the rest of the conference to adjust, and that’s what the conference has done.

Their approach in keeping the same personnel goes one step further. They are also more focused in perfecting their style, rather than being too focused on team-by-team matchups.

At the same time, the team did fall short to the Mercury, who just about everyone has tabbed again to repeat. There’s at least one WNBA GM besides our own that puts the Fever up to win it all. Several forecasts put the Fever in the middle of the pack, while barring injuries to Catchings or Sutton-Brown makes the Fever a good bet to return to the top.

Atlanta Dream blogger petrel has us coming in at 18-16.

I don’t think that the Fever are going to sneak up on anyone this year, and Chicago still has that potential for the big breakout year. I also don’t think that the Fever are that deep beyond their starting rotation… 18-16 doesn’t sound like much of a finish, but the West is pretty damned strong and Indiana is likely to regress. Even with the regression expect the Fever to make it to the conference championship – and possibly, another WNBA Finals.

But can Indiana replicate its 2009 success, when the Fever won the Eastern Conference? Maybe, but the rest of the conference appears to be stronger this year than last – says Michelle Voepel.

The main issue that people worry about are injuries to Tamika Catchings, as she’s over the “30” barrier and all of the starters

[Question 3] Why did the Fever start 0-2? Is it as simple as…your players arrived really late from overseas?

As I will get into in a new post tonight, there’s a few reasons, but mostly all related to the late arrivals.

Besides jet-lag, the starters are simply out-of-synch. The play style and playbook in Turkey is different than here, so even though they played together eight months ago, it’s going to take a bit of time to get back into WNBA Fever style basketball.

My concern is that a week ago, they played at such a high level and now they are in for another 4 month grind without much break. I do hope they ease into it, try to re-peak in August even if it costs a few more games up front. As long as they are healthy, they’ll be a threat in the playoffs regardless of the strandings.

[Question 4] What’s Allie Quigley’s role going to be on this team? In other words, she was kept on the roster over other players because…? Do you think she’ll get regular minutes and be part of the regular rotation?

In short, just as Christina Wirth pitched in 6 mpg last year, look for Allie Quigley to pitch in 5 mpgs this year. What she does with those minutes is a big question mark.

The main two players vying for the last roster spot in the preseason were bigs Christina Wirth and Joy Cheek, both who had considerable shooting range. There’s no question Joy Cheek had a great preseason game against the Sky (6-8 shooting, 4 rebounds).

Having re-signed bigs Jessicas Davenport and Moore to go along with Tammy Sutton-Brown and Ebony Hoffman, and knowing what they had in Christina Wirth’s 6 mpgs last year, I think the Fever felt they need to take a risk on Allie Quigley’s scrappy energy, volatility and havoc:

The Mystics led 32-25 late in the first half before Indiana’s new pickup, Allie Quigley, sparked a comeback. She made a layup, got a steal that led to a short jumper by Douglas, then made a driving layup to cut Washington’s lead to 32-31.

By virtue of having four starter’s playing in the heated playoff finals in Turkey, the Indiana Fever had more opportunity to evaluate players in the preseason. Those 22 extra minutes allowed Allie Quigley to show what she could do with them. She shot 4 of 9 for 10 points, perfect from range, she also rounded up 6, (SIX!) rebounds to go with 3 assists and 3 steals and only one TO. It was a heck of game for A.Q.! The real challenge is can she be this hot and efficient with five minutes a game?

My expectation is she’ll be used as a spark plug, an energy player and scorer. Lin will put her in and see how she does over a few minutes and take her out if its just not there. In the last two games, AQ’s got five minutes in each and it’s hard to do much with that. She’s shot perfect 2-2 from the field, 2-2 from the line for six points, has an assist, a block, two steals but also three TOs. She’s is very TO prone. The question is whether she’ll get more time, be able to adjust to short minutes effectively or simply hang out as backcourt insurance.

[Question 5] Davenport looked really good in the preseason game here in Chicago. Do you think she has improved this season?

Let’s see how she does on Saturday and I’ll ask her about what she’s done on the off-season at Sunday’s pregame.

[Question 6] Have you ever seen Tamika Catchings take a possession off? Like, just one? Maybe, half a possession?

I’m a bit green, watching her play. I’ll let you know if I see her slag off. =D

Great stuff! This was really insightful because I expected the Fever and Fever fans to be more confident, even cocky, with regards to this team. I mean, the only East team that stepped to them last year was the Shock, a team that is currently a shell of it’s former self after being decimated by defections. Yes, other East teams have improved but the Fever still seem to have more experience and veteran leadership than a lot of other Eastern Conference teams. Teams such as Connecticut, DC and NY have all added vets with championship experience but Fever have the advantage, in that, their team has remained virtually unchanged from last year. Other teams have to spend time integrating key players into new offenses and defenses. Anyway, it’s probably good that the Fever aren’t starting the season too overconfident. The 0-2 start probably helped to curb that.

Also, the info on Allie Quigley was really, really great. It’s good to hear that Quigley will probably get an opportunity to produce every game. Hopefully the Sky will get a local player on the team eventually (…yeah, I know, we have Canty but I’m referring to someone who played college ball locally…like Stephanie Raymond in 2007). Best of luck to Quigley in Indy! Definitely looking foward to seeing her play tomorrow!

Fever Week also has great audio of interviews with Katie Douglas, Tammy Sutton-Brown and Ebony Hoffman talking about the two losses and the upcoming games this weekend. Definitely worth listening to if you want to get more insight into the Fever’s psyche right now.

Sam also asked me some questions about the Sky and posted my responses in this post — The Sky/Fever Winless Rivalry Weekend Preview. My favorite part is this…

[Question 3] Your last win was against… the Fever! Should I be concerned that you’ll sweep the home-and-away this weekend?

Yes, be concerned…very concerned! We ‘gon SWEEEEP! Ignore the fact that we’re 4-11 all-time vs. the Fever and that the past four years we’ve gone 1-3, 1-3, 1-2 and 1-3 vs. you guys. Hmmm…looks like we can only beat you guys once per season. So, yeah, maybe you don’t have to worry about the sweep after all! …

LoL :-). I’m hoping that the Fever don’t choose this weekend to return to championship form. A Sky sweep is HIGHLY unlikely, but I’m just hoping the Sky can at least split because it would be HORRIBLE if we came out of this weekend 0-4.

Alright, so in an attempt to get this rivalry fired up, let me quote Sam…

You would think with a week downtime since losing their first two games, the Eastern Conference Championship Fever should be in gear to take out vicious Kobe-esque revenge on the Chicago Sky.

Vicious Kobe-esque revenge on the Sky? Them be fightin’ words! …ok, they’re really not, but, ah well :-).

These are my fighting words: The Fever and Shock have dominated the Eastern Conference long enough. They’ve both had their chances. The Shock have already been blown-up and shipped out.  It’s time for the rest of the East to do the same thing to the Fever. It’s time for some new blood to step up and take control of the Conference. This weekend, the Sky are gonna continue what the Mystics and Dream started…the systematic de-throning of the Eastern Conference champs!


*NEXT GAME* May 22nd (Saturday) — 7pm vs. Fever @ *ALLSTATE ARENA*

* * Don’t forget about the Sky’s “House Warming Party” in the Allstate parking lot starting at 4pm! The party activities will include a rock climbing wall, an inflatable obstacle course, face painters, balloon makers and free food and drinks provided by Gino’s East, Vienna Beef, S. Rosen’s and Pepsi. There will also be live performances by the Fly Kids and the Chicago Sky Drumline. Be there! * *

~ Chicago Sky Hoops ~


~ by audsquad on May 21, 2010.

2 Responses to “HOME OPENER TOMORROW! Fever Week(end) begins!”

  1. Great reading and insights, thanks and keep up the good job

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