“Our goal is the same every year,” said Indiana Fever guard Briann January following Monday’s training camp session at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, “and that’s to win a championship. And I think we’ve done a very good job, while I’ve been here at least, to be in contention.”
Very good would be an understatement, as the Fever have at least reached the Eastern Conference Finals in six of January’s seven seasons in Indiana, including three trips to the WNBA Finals, one of which resulted in a championship in 2012.
The Fever came awfully close to hanging another championship banner last season, pushing the Minnesota Lynx to a fifth and final game in the 2015 WNBA Finals before coming up just short. But January was clearly eager to see if whatever they were lacking last year will be found in training camp this year.
“The first couple days of training camp are so exciting,” said January. “Throwing in new things, you’ve got new new players bringing in different aspects of the game that we might’ve been missing last year.”
“The first day’s such a whirlwind,” said Fever guard Layshia Clarendon after the team completed their second day of preseason camp. “Body’s a little sore, but I think it was better overall.”
Fever forward Lynetta Kizer concurred with Clarendon’s sentiment, assessing the second day of training camp as a success.
“We’re playing hard for each other,” said Kizer. “Still a lot of teaching going on, of course, but the girls are getting it. It was a lot better than yesterday, so that’s always good. The younger ones are picking it up pretty well. I think as the days go on we’re going to continue to get better.”
Fever guard Shenise Johnson mentioned that she believes training camp is somewhat of a two-pronged process, balancing both individual and collective progress. She was evidently pleased with the progress of the new members of the team as well.
“I think the rookies are great,” added Johnson. “Tiffany Mitchell’s doing a great job. Brene Moseley’s doing a great job of understanding the spacing. I think everybody’s doing a great job of adjusting, staying aggressive.”
An added element to this upcoming season’s intrigue is that it marks the final season of WNBA legend Tamika Catchings’ storied career.
Fever forward Natalie Achonwa, a member of the Canadian national team, will not only get to play alongside Catchings as Fever teammates this season, but could potentially face off against the all-time great in Olympic play this summer.
“I know if we get the chance to compete and play against them,” said Achonwa, referring to a potential matchup with Catchings and Team USA, “I’ll have some shots for her and she’ll have some shots for me. But I know when we put on this Indiana Fever jersey that we’re on the same team. And when we get to compete against each other it’ll be fun. Tamika’s a legend in the game and she’s someone that I look up to.”
Alongside the superstar Catchings in her final hoorah, the Fever certainly appear primed to send her out in style.
“It’s Catch’s last year, “ said Kizer. “So we’re going to want to push her out on top.”
“Of course we want to back up our vet, the legendary Tamika Catchings,” said Johnson. “We want to make sure we send her out with a bang.”
“We just want to give it our all for Catch this year,” said Clarendon, “and we know she’s going to give us her all, and then have fun and hopefully the best comes.”