Balance is the Name of the Game

On any given day, any or all of the 12 players on the Indiana Fever roster could score in double figures. Seem far-fetched? It’s really not.

The team set a franchise record last Wednesday (May 18) when seven different Fever players scored in double figures. If that wasn’t exciting enough, the team decided to tie that record again only two nights later while earning back-to-back wins.

And it’s not all the same scorers. In three games so far, ten Fever players have recorded double-digit scoring performances. The only two players who haven’t? Veteran Fever guard Briann January and rookie Brene Moseley.

January is still recovering from offseason knee surgery and has yet to play a single minute this year. In 2015, she recorded 16 double-digit scoring performances. Eight of those instances came in the WNBA Playoffs where she averaged 11.3 points per game. In her seven seasons with the franchise, she averages 8.8 points and 3.4 assist per game. Coaches expect she’ll return to play within the next few weeks, and clearly she’ll lend a hand in providing even more balance to this talented Fever crew.

While Moseley has yet to score in double-digits in the regular season, the rookie point guard recorded two double-digit scoring efforts to average 14 points per game in the preseason – second on the team. The youngster added 16 in her preseason debut against the Dallas Wings and 12 against the Washington Mystics.

So, what exactly is it about this Indiana team that’s helped them to achieve a level of balance never seen before in a Fever lineup?

The versatility and balance of this Fever squad have helped the team to an exceptional start – a record-breaking start. So, what exactly is it about this Indiana team that’s helped them to achieve a level of balance never seen before in a Fever lineup?

According to January, the No. 1 reason is chemistry.

“That balance is something we’ve been building on since last year,” said January. With eight returning players from last year’s WNBA Finals squad, the team has had a solid foundation to work with. “We did add some new pieces, but our core is still the same.”

Fever head coach Stephanie White agreed that this team has been able to build upon last year’s efforts.

“I think we laid the foundation for that last year in talking about how much we want to share the ball,” explained White. “We want our assist numbers to be high and we want to get the best shot on the floor. The emphasis every day is on sharing and moving the ball and making the extra pass. That’s how they’re going to win.”

“These are unselfish players who understand what it takes to be successful,” said White.

Erlana Larkins also acknowledged that sharing the ball is a key factor in a successful and balanced team.

“Moving the ball makes the biggest difference,” said Larkins. “Any time you move the ball you get the best open shots. People are knocking those things down. Once we really get to know one another and that chemistry gets to where it’s supposed to be, we’re going to be rolling.”

With the addition of this year’s newcomers, this team is perhaps stronger and deeper than last year. The new players are already making unselfish plays this season and contributing to the balance of this squad. Moseley, for instance, came in for a short-but-effective 14 minutes against Atlanta on Friday night, dishing out six crucial assists and adding two points.

“Our additions have been great,” said January. “Without a doubt our two new point guards have come in with a ton of talent, a ton of speed and put pressure on the defense. The more aggressive our point guards are, the easier the shots are for everybody else.”

“We also have Tiffany who can come in here and light it up, and Devereaux who can space out the floor. We just have weapons all over the place.”

Working to push the pace of the game has also played a role in the Fever’s balanced attack. This is a team that’s playing faster than ever before. Even with no go-to scorer, the Fever rank second among WNBA teams by averaging 90 points per game.

In order to push the pace even more and create more scoring opportunities, Larkins says the team has been focusing on defensive rebounding. “You can’t run without the ball,” she said. “Rebounding is the most important thing to push the pace of the game. We have to finish each successful defensive play with a rebound and let our little ones run up the floor and score.”

With a poised team like this one, there’s really no telling who might put up double-digit scoring each night. No matter the final outcome of each game, a common denominator for Indiana will certainly be a balanced effort with multiple contributors.