WNBA fans have voted Indiana Fever forward Tamika Catchings an All-Star game starter for the 8th time in her career. Fever head coach Lin Dunn and her staff will direct the Eastern Conference stars, an honor given to the team that won the Conference title the previous season. But with just a 5-8 record this season, the defending WNBA champion Fever are fighting to become a contender again before the All-Star break.
The Fever have four games on the schedule before the All-Star break, starting tonight at 7:00 p.m. against the Washington Mystics at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The Fever have won four of their last five games after ending a seven-game losing streak. The team has dealt with multiple injuries and is still far from full strength, awaiting the return from injuries for local product Katie Douglas and three-point sharpshooter Jeanette Pohlen.
"Just looking at the progress," said Catchings after Friday morning's shoot around. "Look at the beginning of the season and the slump we started off in. But I think it was more of an adjustment time for us, really learning how to play with one another. We've got a lot of new faces. We've got players that went from playing 10-15 minutes to 30-plus minutes. It's an adjustment that people don't realize."
The 2013 Boost Mobile WNBA All-Star Game is played Saturday, July 27 (3:30 p.m., ABC-TV) at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. Lin Dunn also coached the East All-Stars the last time the game was played in Connecticut in 2009. That was the first time a Fever coach guided the All-Stars.
Catchings finished fourth in the East and fourth overall in All-Star balloting. Catchings garnered the most votes in the East in 2005, 2006, 2009 and 2011. She is averaging 17.1 points, 6.3 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 3.4 steals a game this season, her 12th in the WNBA.
"I'm just really honored to be able to represent the Fever and the WNBA," said Catchings. "Having the All-Star game is a tribute to our fans and an opportunity for them to come to one place and get to see everybody. I enjoy it because I enjoy playing with players I never get the opportunity to play with."
Catchings won WNBA MVP honors in 2011. She won the WNBA Finals MVP award in leading the Fever to their first title last year. Catchings leadership has kept the Fever focused during a difficult defense of the title in the first half of this season.
"We have a big job tonight," said Catchings. "So we'll focus one game at a time. If we get to .500 before the break, that would be great. Even when we were losing, the thing I talked about was, ‘Let's just continue to get better.' We don't need to be great right now. We need to be great at the end."
The remaining spots on the All-Star game rosters are announced Tuesday, July 23, during a nationally televised game between the New York Liberty and the Fever on ESPN2 (7:00 p.m.). WNBA head coaches select the reserves by voting for six players in their own conference.
Fever guard Shavonte Zellous is also a candidate to earn her first All-Star selection.