Here are the nominees for the 2016 Freddy Fever Awards:
Nominations for Best Picture
1. What better game took place than Tamika Catchings’ retirement game to close the 2016 regular season? A sellout crowd, the largest single-game revenue in club history and a 23-point blowout followed by an emotional postgame ceremony. Hands-down winner.
A second nomination is not even a consideration.
Nominations for Best Lead Actress
1. Tamika Catchings is obviously the sentimental favorite for this award, but was she clearly the Fever’s best and most consistent player in 2017? She closed her career by averaging 12.7 points and 4.8 rebounds per game. She was the team’s leading scorer overall, but not every game and she didn’t produce her first double-double until the playoffs.
2. Briann January is set to become the Fever’s most veteran leader, after teaming beside Catchings for eight seasons. She was the team’s third-leading scorer with 9.7 points per game while posting a career-high with 4.7 assists per contest. When Bri played well, wins typically followed.
Nominations for Best Supporting Actress
This award is clearly the most competitive of all being presented. The Fever had SEVEN players end the season with scoring averages between 8.3 and 9.8 points per game in 2016. Eight different players registered games with at least 19 points, 10 different players reached double-figure scoring at least once. Can you say balance? In truth, any of several players deserve this nomination, but I’ll select three.
1. Shenise Johnson may well have been worthy of being the club’s second half MVP, with 12 of her 17 double-figure scoring games coming in July, August, and September. Johnson averaged 9.8 points for the season, posting a pair of 20-point performances down the stretch. She shot 41 percent for the season, but better than 50 percent during a September playoff run.
2. Erlana Larkins is annually a nearly unforgotten hero due to her limited points. Even among these comparisons, she was the club’s eighth-leading scorer at 8.3 points per game. But given the Fever’s balance, Larkins was called upon more as a rebounder, as usual. Her 7.4 boards per game ranked eighth in the WNBA. She posted six double-doubles in 2016 and was the only Indiana player to post double-digit rebounds in the regular season. Larkins posted a career-high 19 points in a see-saw win at Dallas in June.
Nominations for Best Director
1. Departed head coach Stephanie White deserves credit for molding and driving the Fever to a 12th consecutive playoff run. As noted by so many statistics, she guided a club without a true go-to superstar every night. Or, from a different perspective, she had eight superstars that she needed to mentor and shape into a playoff contender again.
2. Briann January, the veteran point guard, has never not appeared in the WNBA Playoffs. Please pardon the double negative, but it illustrates the point that all she has done in this league is WIN. January has finally been recognized among the top point guards in the WNBA, earning an All-Star bid in 2014 and receiving All-Defense team merit in five consecutive seasons. She triggers the Fever offense and very much has become an anchor of the Fever defense.
3. Considering last year’s 12th straight playoff berth and 13th overall, with a second-year coach and a retiring superstar and without the benefit of a top 4 draft pick since 2005, the Fever’s president and general manager, Kelly Krauskopf, deserves consideration for this award – albeit entirely off the court. She has almost single-handedly built the winning culture of a franchise that boasts three recent WNBA Finals appearances and more playoff games any team in league history.
Best Animated Feature
Fans love emotion and animated looks by their favorite players! Here are a few favorite gifs from 2016:
1. “And 1!” Erlana Larkins scores the bucket and shares her emotion with the cameras!
2. “That’s on me?” Natalie Achonwa shares a look of dismay after an alleged foul.
3. Devereaux Peters and Natalie Achonwa celebrate with slightly different expressions.
Catchings’ Legacy Tour during her 16th and final season, with a fourth Olympic gold medal and yet another playoff appearance, spawned a pair of short videos documenting her illustrious career. Any player would be thrilled with one of these videos. Tamika, appropriately, had two.
1. Narrated by Good Morning America anchor Robin Roberts, “From The Heart” tells Catchings’ story from childhood to celebrity, following the passions of her heart all the way to Olympics and WNBA stardom. The 8-minute video was the centerpiece of a preseason Legacy Luncheon that honored Indiana’s “once-in-a-lifetime player.”
2. The WNBA produced a Tamika Catchings tribute video that I saw at least a dozen times last summer. It spoke of her work ethic and dedication on the court, and her commitment as a role model off the court. The 60-second production was used throughout the league, playing on arena videoboards to honor Catchings during her final visit in every city.
Best Original Score
What? In basketball-speak, we are honoring the Fever’s best scoring play of 2016. From among a series of “best of” videos, here are the finalists:
1. Another great dish was this steal and behind-the-back pass from Johnson to Catchings in front of a sellout crowd in Catchings’ final regular-season game.
2. You like great passing? Take a look at this “picture-perfect” around-the-horn sequence (January to Larkins to Catchings) to help Marissa Coleman beat the halftime buzzer with a clutch 3-pointer at Connecticut!
3. Nobody gets to the hoop quicker than rookie star Tiffany Mitchell! In her pro debut, this explosive drive to the bucket resulted in three of her game-high 18 points on a three-point play against Dallas.
4. How about some divine motivation? In what was her final game in Chicago, and with a heavy heart following the passing of her college coach and mentor Pat Summitt only hours earlier, Tamika Catchings muscled her way to this bucket as part of a game-high 26 points in an inspirational win over the Sky.
Rockin’ new uniforms, these nominations feature Indiana in the amplify gold and primary blue uniforms – with Freddy Fever in a special pink outfit for Breast Health Awareness Night!
1. Debuting in 2016, the Fever wore gold uniforms as their amplify color both at home and on the road.
2. Formerly the club’s road color, Indiana wore blue uniforms as an alternate color beginning in 2016, when a home team’s jersey color was similar to Indiana’s gold.
3. When the Fever sports an annual pink look on Breast Health Awareness Night pres. by Community Health Network, so does the team’s lovable, furry mascot Freddy Fever!
Winners for the 2016 Freddy Fever Awards will be announced on Monday, February 27, 2017.