Fever's Plan for 2015: Ratchet Up the PaceTweet
By Tom Rietmann | May 17, 2015
INDIANAPOLIS – Stephanie White's message on the first day of Fever training camp came through with unmistakable sharpness. The 2015 Indiana team will be aggressive, consistently pushing the pace on offense.
White, in her first season as the Fever's head coach, said “it's the No. 1 goal for this team” to have success as a running, free-flowing offensive unit.
“I want it to be a fun, exciting atmosphere and a fun, exciting way to play for our team,” White said Sunday after the Fever's first practice. “We want to lay that foundation with the way we do things every single day.”
From the outset at Sunday's drills, an attacking style was the emphasis. Indiana is trying to build a unit that can assure all five players on the floor have skills to dribble, pass and shoot. And the club hopes to fully implement the play-making abilities of personnel who are already on the roster.
More point production is the aim. Last season, Indiana averaged 74.15 points, which ranked 10th among 12 WNBA teams. In 2013, the Fever averaged only 70.8 points.
The Phoenix Mercury, last season's WNBA champions, averaged a league-leading 83.53 points and were one of four clubs with a mean above 80. Indiana, in 15 seasons as a franchise, has never averaged 80. The club high is 78.3 points in 2010 and 2012.
When White gave her first talk to the '15 team this weekend, she spoke about what it will take for the Fever's new identity to lock in. Accountability and communication were key subjects. Attention to details came up, too, since a push-the-ball and transition style will be dramatically different for most of the Fever veterans.
Fever star Tamika Catchings envisions the scheme providing a certain freedom for “being able to make our own plays.”
“I think what Steph has done is come in and allow people to play their game,” said Catchings, a 14-year veteran of the squad. “It is … developing a situation where we can just go out and play and naturally feed off of each other.
“With Steph, it's like OK, everybody plays every position. You need to know every single position. It's (about) being able get into our offense more quickly.”
The Fever defense, always a strong suit under retired Coach Lin Dunn, will be slightly different, too. The offensive changes will require the team to use a smaller lineup over extensive periods. So defensively, shot-blocking and rebounding will naturally suffer some.
“When we play small ball, that means you have to be aggressive and you have to force turnovers,” White said. “You're not just going to outrebound opponents. Really, we don't have rim protectors, so we have to change the ways we play in terms of a more aggressive approach on the defensive end.”
Indiana won the WNBA championship in 2012 and has made the league playoffs in 10 consecutive seasons, including 2014 when the team lost to Chicago in the Eastern Conference Finals. Catchings smiled Sunday when she was asked if franchise goals have been set for 2015.
“It's too early; it's only the first day,” she said.
It was the first day of the Stephanie White head-coaching era – one that promises a different look, a different mentality for the team. The offensive makeover will continue as Indiana prepares for its regular-season opener at Chicago on June 5. Attacking in transition will remain the focus.
“Ideally,” White said, “I'd like not to have to put in an offensive set until the first week heading into the regular season.”
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