Excitement Abounds as Fever Open Training Camp

By Jordan Morey | FeverBasketball.com

The incredible energy and excitement of the Indiana Fever’s 2024 offseason carried into the team’s first day of on-court work at Gainbridge Fieldhouse.

Squeaking sneakers, swooshing nets and constant communication between players and coaches echoed off Salesforce Court’s walls on Sunday as the Fever returned to the hardwood for training camp.

14 of 15 Fever players were in attendance for the first day of camp, including No. 1 overall draft pick Caitlin Clark and starting All-Star center Aliyah Boston, the reigning WNBA Rookie of the Year.

Training camp will last two weeks, with two preseason games on the docket: against the Dallas Wings on May 3 and against the Atlanta Dream in Indianapolis on May 10. The Fever front office must reduce the roster to 12 players by May 15.

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The two-hour opening practice featured fast-paced play from the Fever, as head coach Christie Sides and her staff began evaluating the skills and chemistry of the new and returning players.

Sides said that the team is in a much different place in her second year at the helm and that the veterans on the squad are already showing the leadership qualities she was hoping for to start 2024. Sides said that excellent team chemistry will translate to the product on the court.

“We have a baseline now, we were ready to go,” Sides said. “We were able to kind of get started right where we left off — just get the new ones in there.”

During her first official pro practice, Clark flashed all of the skills she used to help her earn National Player of the Year honors the last two seasons and the all-time NCAA scoring record.

After a whirlwind few months, Clark said she was glad to return to the gym.

“I think that’s what I was most excited for – get all that other stuff out of the way,” Clark said. “There really hasn’t been a down period for me to kind of really catch my breath, but at the same time I feel really grateful for that, too. Like I said to everybody, I feel like I’m in really good basketball shape. There’s no getting back in shape for myself. I’ve been playing basketball, there’s not really been an off period. For me, I feel like that’s a really good thing. You just keep the momentum rolling and keep being myself and keep learning.”

During practice, Clark drained several shots from deep – including her trademark logo 3-pointers – and also dished out highlight-worthy passes.

Clark, who played her last four years at Iowa, said she’s leaning on the team’s veterans, including guard Erica Wheeler, to help integrate into the team.

“It’s definitely different, but that’s what you expect when you start a new chapter of your life,” Clark said. “This coaching staff is fully prepared. I think they have been watching me for quite some time, and I think the stuff they have planned and the actions we’re going to run are going to be really good for myself (and) really good for this group in general. A lot of screening action. It’s fast, a fast shot clock, but it fits my game well.”

Clark said she relishes the pressure of performing at the next level and looks forward to the preseason opener in Dallas later this week.

“Embrace the pressure. How lucky are we that people are expecting so much of us?” Clark said. “Our schedule is really hard to start the year, but that’s what’s fun. We’re going to see what we’re made of.”

One of the players helping guide Clark is Boston, who said she has taken it upon herself to become more of a vocal leader this season for the entire team.
Boston, who averaged 14.5 points and 8.4 rebounds last season, said she has gotten stronger in the offseason, and that will translate to her game.

“To be able to come in my second year and be able to hold off (defenders) a little bit longer, be able to finish through contact a little bit better than I did my rookie season, that’s a lot better,” Boston said.

While the Fever are mostly healthy to open camp, starting All-Star guard Kesley Mitchell was limited due to an ankle injury. Sides said Mitchell is progressing faster than expected, and she got shots up and rode a bike on Sunday.

While the team’s expectations have risen going into the season, Sides said she wants the team to stay focused on the day-to-day.

“We want to be the best practice team every single day,” Sides said. “ Our goal is the playoffs. We want to be where the Pacers are. … But we can’t skip steps. Last year we started with a plan, we have to stick with that plan.”

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