FEVER OPEN AT CHICAGO
May 16, 2014HOOSIER SPORTS 365
INDIANA FEVER RELEASE
Indiana at Chicago
Date: Friday, May 16
Television - None
The 2014 Fever season begins Friday night in Chicago, where the Fever will meet the Sky in a rematch of last year's first round playoff series.
There is a new look to this year's Fever roster. The five players who started in last year's postseason run return, but several prominent faces have changed. Gone are Katie Douglas (signed with Connecticut), Erin Phillips (traded to Phoenix), Jeanette Pohlen (out for the season with a torn achilles), and Jessica Davenport (did not re-sign with Indiana). Five new players are on Indiana's season-opening roster: Sydney Carter, Marissa Coleman, Natasha Howard, Lynetta Kizer, and Maggie Lucas.
Of those five, Coleman and Howard in particular figure to play a prominent role this season. Coleman, entering her sixth WNBA season, will get heavy minutes in the wing rotation. In four preseason games, she averaged 12.3 points and shot 43 percent from 3-point range. Howard, the fifth overall pick in last month's WNBA Draft, is a long, athletic player that can play either post position. Howard, listed at 6-foot-3, averaged 11.5 points per game and shot 50 percent from the field in the preseason.
The Sky finished with the best record in the Eastern Conference last season, but the Fever swept them in convincing fashion in the first round of the playoffs. Chicago will open this season without All-Star center Sylvia Fowles, who underwent surgery in March, but the Sky still boasts 2013 Rookie of the Year Elena Delle Donne. Delle Donne has already established herself as one of the most gifted scorers in the entire league, and containing her will be the major focus of Indiana's defensive attack. Tamika Catchings and Karima Christmas will likely share that duty.
Storylines & Promotions
• Indiana (0-0) meets the Chicago Sky (0-0) in the season-opening game for both teams. The game tips off what is the 15th season in Indiana Fever franchise history, and it is a rematch of last season’s Eastern Conference Semifinals in which the Fever won in two games.
• Indiana completed a four-game preseason slate with a 1-3 mark, salvaging a win over Phoenix in the consolation game of the WNBA Preseason Tournament in Orlando. Indiana fell to Chicago, 73-66, in an opening round game. Counting the games last weekend at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Disney, the Fever completed four preseason games in six days, including home-and-road losses against Washington.
• A win on Friday would mark Indiana’s fourth straight opening-night victory. Indiana downed San Antonio on the road in 2013, 79-64, and beat Atlanta at home in 2012, 92-84. The Fever beat the Sky at home in 2011, 65-57. The Fever is 10-4 all-time in season openers.
• Rookie first-round draft pick Natasha Howard makes her Fever debut the Sky. In the preseason, Howard averaged 11.5 points and 5.0 rebounds through four games. Her lowest-scoring game was against the Sky, managing just 1-of-7 shooting for five points in Orlando.
• Three former Fever players will battle against Indiana on Friday. Jessica Breland starred for the Fever last season while making a triumphant return to the WNBA after missing the 2012 season. Sasha Goodlett was originally drafted by the Fever in 2012, but was waived late last season. Allie Quigley played three games with the Fever during the 2010 season.
• Chicago will be without regular starters Sylvia Fowles and Epiphanny Prince. Fowles still is recovering from hip surgery and Prince will be absent while dealing with family matters.
• Indiana opens the season with a couple of injury concerns that will be monitored in the early going. Tamika Catchings missed the preseason while nursing a sore back, and Briann January missed the team’s final preseason game with soreness in her left knee. Layshia Clarendon missed the club’s preseason opener with a back issue, also, but played the final three games last week.
Fever: F- Tamika Catchings, F- Marissa Coleman, C- Erlana Larkins, G- Shavonte Zellous, G- Briann January
(Sept. 22, 2013):The Fever stunned the top-seeded Sky in a two-game sweep in the Eastern Conference Semifinals last season. Against the Sky last Friday at the WNBA Preseason Tournament, a see-saw first half produced 11 ties and 11 lead changes. Chicago’s 6-0 run late in the half broke a 33-33 deadlock and staked the Sky to a 6-point halftime margin. After scoring 8 of 12 points to open the second half, Chicago’s 47-37 lead represented the largest of the game. Indiana closed to within 57-54 on a Karima Christmas 3-pointer with 8:10 left in the game, but the Fever never got closer. Christmas paced the Fever with 16 points. Jamierra Faulkner paced Chicago with 11.
Fever: Indiana beat Phoenix in the consolation game of the WNBA Preseason Tournament, besting the Mercury 73-60 behind 16 points from rookie Natasha Howard. Marissa Coleman scored 11 and Haiden Palmer added 10. Off the bench, Lynetta Kizer scored eight points with a game-high seven rebounds.
Sky: Playing a final exhibition game at the University of Delaware where Elena Delle Donne starred in college, the Sky beat the Washington Mystics, 76-69. Delle Donne had game highs of 17 points and 10 rebounds as the Sky closed the preseason 2-1. Courtney Vandersloot pitched in 15 points and Jessica Breland added 14 points and nine rebounds.
Indiana owns a 27-6 regular season mark against the Sky since Chicago entered the league in 2006. The Fever won 3 of 4 meetings in 2013, prior to winning both playoff matchups. The Fever has won 9 of the past 10 encounters, and 13 of 15. The Fever is 12-4 on the road against Chicago, winning five straight at Allstate Arena and 8 of 9 road games since 2010.