Game Preview: Indiana Fever Face Connecticut Sun to Begin 24th Regular Season

Indiana vs Connecticut
Friday, May 19, 2023
Gainbridge Fieldhouse | 7 p.m. ET
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Broadcast Information
Bally Sports Indiana
Pat Boylan (play-by-play), Bria Goss (analyst)

The Indiana Fever begin its 24th regular season Friday night with a 7 p.m. ET tip against the Connecticut Sun at Gainbridge Fieldhouse.

For the first time since 2016, the Fever will play in front of a sold-out crowd. Fans in attendance are encouraged to wear red in support of the Fever’s season-long campaign, “In-For-Red”. Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett also proclaimed Wednesday that May 19, 2023 is to be named ‘Paint the Town Red Day’ in celebration of the Fever 2023 season home opener Friday.

Friday night will be the first regular season game as a head coach for Christie Sides guiding the Fever franchise. Sides was tabbed as the ninth head coach in franchise history on November 4, 2022 after serving as an assistant coach for the Atlanta Dream during the 2022 season. She had been associate women’s head coach at the University of Louisiana-Monroe since 2019, the role she moved to after a two-year stint with the Fever from 2018-19.

Indiana ended the 2023 preseason slate at 1-1, first falling at the Chicago Sky, 81-56, on May 7. Improvements in rebounding output, strong efforts on defense and a decrease in turnovers gave the Fever momentum to wrap up the preseason schedule with a 90-83 win at home against the Dallas Wings last Saturday. Standout performances against Dallas from guard Kelsey Mitchell and forward NaLyssa Smith allowed Indiana to close an early 11-point deficit and eventually pull ahead of the Wings at the beginning of the second half.

Entering her sixth WNBA season all with Indiana, Mitchell led Indiana in scoring 19 times in 2022 and is on track to maintain her dominant presence this season. She contributed 29 points on Saturday to close out the preseason as Indiana’s leading scorer, while going 4-of-8 from behind the three-point arc. Smith added 22 points, going 7-of-12 from the floor while also pulling down eight rebounds. To start off her second WNBA season, center Queen Egbo led the team in rebounds with nine and added nine points on 4-of-9 shooting off the bench as well.

Veteran guard Erica Wheeler held significant minutes in her first game of the season where she contributed 10 points and led the team with five assists. Wheeler returns for her first regular season game as a member of the Fever inside Gainbridge Fieldhouse after a four-year run with the franchise from 2016-19.

Fans inside Gainbridge Fieldhouse on Friday will also see the debut of the No. 1 overall draft selection in the 2023 WNBA Draft from the University of South Carolina, forward Aliyah Boston, after adding eight points on 4-of-6 shooting in her home debut against Dallas.

For Connecticut, the Sun head into 2023 after a 25-11 campaign in 2022 after reaching the WNBA Finals for the second time in the last four seasons. After head coach Curt Miller departed Connecticut for Los Angeles, the Sun hired Stephanie White as its next head coach. White was the head coach in Indiana during the 2015 and 2016 seasons and guided the Fever to a 37-31 record. On the Sun coaching staff is also former Fever guard and WNBA Champion, Briann January, who finished her seasoned career in the WNBA as one of the most successful guards in league history at the end of 2022. The Spokane native was drafted sixth in the 2009 WNBA Draft by the Fever and averaged 7.8 points, 1.7 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.0 steals over nine seasons in Indiana, two in Phoenix, two in Connecticut and one with Seattle.

Austin Kelly, who is married to Fever assistant coach Karima Christmas-Kelly, serves as an assistant for Connecticut as well, after completing college coaching stints at UT-Arlington, Vanderbilt and Georgia Tech.

Friday night is also a welcome home for Sun guard, Ty Harris, who hails from Noblesville and helped Heritage Christian win three straight IHSAA state titles from 2014-16.

Projected Starters (2022 Statistics)

Indiana Fever

Center – Aliyah Boston (w/ South Carolina: 13.0 PPG, 9.8 RPG)
Forward – NaLyssa Smith (13.5 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 1.4 APG, 0.5 SPG, 0.3 BPG)
Forward – Victoria Vivians (9.8 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 2.4 APG, 1.1 SPG, 0.3 BPG)
Guard – Kelsey Mitchell (18.4 PPG, 1.9 RPG, 4.2 APG, 0.9 SPG, 0.2 BPG)
Guard – Erica Wheeler (w/ ATL: 8.4 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 3.9 APG, 1.1 SPG, 0.1 BPG)
Connecticut Sun

Center – Brionna Jones (13.8 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 1.2 APG, 1.2 SPG, 0.4 BPG)
Forward – Alyssa Thomas (13.4 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 6.1 APG, 1.7 SPG, 0.2 BPG)
Forward – DeWanna Bonner (13.5 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 2.8 APG, 1.2 SPG, 0.3 BPG)
Guard – Tiffany Hayes (w/ ATL: 16.2 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 2.1 APG, 0.7 SPG, 0.1 BPG)
Guard – Natisha Hiedeman (9.1 PPG, 1.8 RPG, 3.3 APG, 1.2 SPG, 0.1 BPG)


No injuries