Coach Lin Dunn’s response to her Indiana Fever’s franchise-record seven-game winning streak was about what you might expect _ if you’ve ever heard much of Lin Dunn.
“I don’t keep up with records,” she said. “Well, whoop-de-do. Way to go.”
Personally, I thought this Fever effort – a 67-53 win over Connecticut on Thursday – deserved more than a “whoop-de-do.” Maybe a “yee-haw” or something. Hey, I drove all the way from Kansas City to see it, so that’s at least worth a yee-haw, right? The Fever is atop the Eastern Conference and its 7-2 record is the best in the WNBA.
This is a team that lost its first two games and then, in its third game, lost veteran post player Yolanda Griffith to what we assume is a career-ending Achilles injury, although she hasn’t officially said that. Griffith had announced this would be her last go-round before the season began, but considering the injury, there’s speculation that she may opt to go out in a better way than this. As it is, she remains a strong personality for this team.
The Fever still won that game against the Storm on June 9. Then came wins against LA, Detroit (twice), New York (twice) and now the Sun. Thursday’s game plan was to try to control the game inside, and it worked behind 14 points/14 rebounds from Tammy Sutton-Brown, an overall dominance on the boards (42-29) and a kind of momentum that even the Fever’s opponents can sense.
“You can tell,” the Sun’s Lindsay Whalen said afterward, “that they’re feeling it.”
Katie Douglas, who was part of Purdue teams that put together lengthy win streaks back in college, said while the Fever isn’t too caught up in this, it’s also beneficial to enjoy riding the wave.
“You definitely just try to live in the moment,” Douglas said. “You don’t put too much emphasis on it being ‘a streak.’ Because if you do, you’re probably going to mess yourself up. We’re not in here talking about, ‘We’ve got to get No. 8 on Sunday.’ We’re talking about we have to redeem ourselves from the overtime loss in Atlanta to open the season.”
The Fever fell in double-overtime to the Dream back on June 6, which Dunn said was not a loss that she took all that hard. She said she wasn’t freaking out over opening the season with two defeats, because she really thought this team was going to come together. It has, and now the Fever has a chance to go for eight in a row here in Indy on Sunday against Atlanta.
One thing you notice right now with Indiana is that everyone knows what she is supposed to be doing, and no one is being asked to do “too much.” There have been times with this franchise where Tamika Catching did seem to have almost the whole weight of the team on her shoulders. That’s not the case anymore.
Douglas and Tully Bevilaqua – who is really playing well in her 11th season in the league – can bring a similar kind of emotional intensity on court that Catchings does. Sutton-Brown and Ebony Hoffman have meshed well inside, taking advantage of Hoffman’s expanded shooting range. The Fever was also able to utilize its bench well on Thursday.
“And our defense is our staple,” Sutton-Brown said. “Once we’re all on the same page, we just look great. We get steals, we get fast breaks, and so it just elevates everything.”