That must've been too much good fortune for Winters, because the number of returning players from last year's conference finalist team is... three. Is another season of sub-.200 ball in store for Brian Winters?
Most of the backcourt minutes will go to All-Defensive Teamer Tully Bevilaqua and shooter Anna DeForge, the MVP of the Polish national league, but neither is a playmaker -- super forward Tamika Catchings has led the team in points, rebounds, assists, and steals every year.
A poll of WNBA managers pegs Fever sophomore Tan White as a breakout candidate -- she was among rookie leaders in scoring, assists, steals, and three-point percentage. #9 draft pick LaTangela Atkinson had five fouls and four turnovers in 22 minutes in Indiana's first preseason game -- then she did a rookie disappearing act; in game two, she had zero fouls and zero turnovers (better!), but zero rebounds, zero steals, and one assist.
One of the worst assessments I've made must've been when I figured that Chamique Holdsclaw would be among the greatest, while her Tennessee teammate Tamika Catchings would probably be OK. Holdsclaw has been very good, but Catchings is one of the best all-around players in the game. The Fever must be disappointed that their roster fell to shreds after 2005, but two of them are All-Defense, and Catchings was defensive player of the year.
Tamika Whitmore and Charlotte Smith-Taylor can complement the scoring from the forward position; Whitmore can also move to center, where Ebony Hoffman doesn't score but can rebound.
Outlook: As long as Bevilaqua and Catchings are around, the Fever will still frustrate their opponents defensively. In two preseason games, Indiana has held its opponents -- except for Lisa Leslie -- to 41 percent shooting. 17 wins is in easy reach; if DeForge shoots as well as Kelly Miller did, and if Hoffman picks up the rebounding where Natalie Williams left off, the Fever could win 20 games again.