“I feel normal again, I’m not afraid of anything, so I’m ready to play.”
Those were the first words uttered by Indiana Fever guard Victoria Vivians in her post training camp presser with the media on Friday afternoon.
Vivians, who battled knee issues throughout the season last year, played just six games in 2020 after missing the entire 2019 season with an ACL injury. However, this year with no restrictions, Vivians reported to training camp healthy and ready to play.
Second-year head coach Marianne Stanley has already taken notice.
“I’m really happy with Tori,” Coach Stanley stated. “You know, I told her before the start of camp, you know, you’re a shooter. You’re not just a shooter, but you’re a shooter. People would be envious to have your shooting ability. So, own that, embrace it.”
And embraced it she has. Veteran guard Danielle Robinson, who the Fever acquired during free agency this offseason, spoke of Vivians’ unlimited range, which could be a huge boost for the team when they are running and gunning in transition.
“I think we have the people to run,” Robinson answered with an excited smile. “We want to run and we’re working on getting the ball out the net quick, and I mean, Tori doesn’t even really have to cross half court before she can knock down a three.”
Fans got a small glimpse of that this offseason, while Vivians played in Spain with Quesos el Pastor Zamarat. Although, she only played 10 games, she led the team with 17.7 points and 6.2 rebounds per game, while shooting 36% from three.
Now heading into the 2021 season, Vivians re-joins a Fever backcourt filled with talented shooters, including Kelsey Mitchell, who shot a career-high 38% from beyond the arc last season in the wubble.
Fans may remember back in 2018, Vivians and Mitchell made history, combining for 135 made 3-pointers, the most ever by rookie teammates in WNBA history.
However, Vivians’ shooting isn’t the only thing that is standing out at training camp so far. Her defense has also been a focal point and something Coach Stanley has encouraged her to take on as a challenge this season.
“I’ve asked her to embrace the defensive end even more than ever. [She’s] a really good offensive player. Now, when we get to her defensive game, she can become the complete player that everybody believes that she can be.”
“So yeah, I mean, it’s noticeable, Tori’s playing very, very well in camp right now.”
For Vivians, she says defensive growth comes down to effort and heart.
“Defense is all about effort, you just got to have the heart to stop people,” Vivians replied. “I’ve really been working on my defense and trying to be like that person that can stop the best player on the team and so far, it’s been going pretty good.”