Fever Hoping to Take Advantage of Much-Needed Practice Time

By Madie Chandler | FeverBasketball.com

Thirty-three days after the official start of the WNBA season, the Indiana Fever got to complete a full practice together for the first time since preseason training camp.

“You get to fix all the things that you can’t get right just watching video,” coach Christie Sides said. “…It’s live action. You can’t just walk through things and get better, so just being able to do things live changes the game.”

For several weeks now, Indiana has relied on film studies and slow-paced walkthroughs to bring the young team up to speed. That changed on Wednesday as Sides and the rest of her coaching staff were able to hold a high-intensity practice ahead of a matchup in Washington on Friday.

The 2-9 Fever have an opportunity to add another tally to the win column as they take on Katie Lou Samuelson’s sister, Karlie, and the 0-9 Mystics. Not without a concerted effort on defense, however.

“Transition defense is one that we can really work on right now because we have some time,” Sides said. “Also, we did a lot of breakdowns as it relates to keeping the ball in front of us.”

A defensive rating of 111.8 makes Indiana last in the league, and separates the Fever from the 11th-place Mercury by eight points. The next largest margin between two teams’ defensive ratings is that between the sixth-place Dallas Wings and the fifth-place Chicago Sky, who are separated by just 4.3 points.

It’s clear that Indiana needs time in the gym to grow chemistry and raise their defensive intensity, but the early-season schedule has made that nearly impossible.

“I don’t know if I’ve experienced anything like it ever in my 12 years of coaching in this league,” Sides said of the schedule. “That grind of a schedule – two back to backs against one or two of the best teams in the league…It’s just really tough. And I’m really proud of our players…They just keep showing up.”

Kelsey Mitchell, seventh-year guard and 15 point-per-game scorer, knows this type of work takes time. She also knows it’s her job as a pro to put in those hours in the gym.

“All you can do is rack up as many reps as you can,” Mitchell said on Wednesday. “You’re not going to get it all back in a couple of days…but you get your daily deposits and you deposit every day. I think in the long run, we’re going to see the fruits of our labor.”

Rookie guard Caitlin Clark echoed Mitchell’s sentiment, adding that more practice time will let her learn her teammates’ tendencies and clean up her playmaking game. Clark is turning the ball over 5.4 times a game, but her 6.4 assists each contest is a good enough mark for fourth best in the league.

“To be able to go up and down and to actually play live and see how things are working, to try new things…we’re just competing a lot more,” Clark said.

The intensity and competition of a full practice allowed the Fever to get some much-needed reps in and implement different actions that they hope will help them find the win column on Friday.