INDIANAPOLIS — The youthful new core of the Indiana Fever has acclimated to the Circle City.
That includes the number one overall pick in the WNBA draft, Aliyah Boston, and the seventh overall pick, Indiana Hoosier Grace Berger. This young team looks to burst onto the scene this WNBA season as Fever training camp is underway.
Five days in and the energy is high at Gainbridge Fieldhouse. Fresh faces, high expectations, and raving reviews from those who have been around the block.
"It's looking good. The energy is great. The rookies are learning very fast and that's a good thing. Everybody is just trying to get on the same page. Everyone is new, but the most important thing is that the energy has been good," veteran Fever guard Erica Wheeler said. "Energy. [The rookies] have had high energy even when they're tired. It was a tough day [Monday] and they had every moment to give up, and they didn't. As a vet, to see the young ones fight through that tiredness...it makes me happy."
"All the young girls, they're willing to learn, they want to work hard, they want to get in and get extra shots up and everything. Everybody wants to win, everybody is pouring in and that's our team goal this year: Everybody pour in. So, it's been really good," Fever forward Emma Cannon agreed. "[The rookies] are picking up on a lot of stuff very quickly, they're buying into what the coaches want and it's making camp a lot easier."
First-year Fever head coach Christie Sides agrees. She's impressed with the work of her rookies, namely Grace Berger and Aliyah Boston.
"Grace is one of the hardest workers I've ever coached. What she's put in since she got here two weeks early...I mean she's just picking it up. She's watched a lot of video," Sides explained. "Aliyah went out to California, worked before she came here, then got here, and went to work. It's just really fun to watch her grow."
Being the first (Boston) and seventh (Berger) overall draft picks brings attention and expectation, but Berger and Boston are taking it in stride.
"I think it's always an adjustment for rookies. New terminology, new coach, new players you're playing with. I think it's about what I expected. I've watched the (WNBA) for a long time. So, I realized how fast paced it was, how athletic everyone is, how talented everyone is, but you don't know until you actually get there. There are definitely things every day that I'm learning, but I'm just trying to have an open mind and be willing to adjust on the fly," Berger said. "One piece of advice I got just talking to different coaches and teams from across the league before the draft was you have to be a quick learner in order to stick in the W. You only have two weeks to learn all the plays so any extra time you can get to learn the terminology and what the coaches and other players are like is just going to be advantageous to you."
"I just knew it was going to be intense. That was my biggest thing. I didn't try to set any expectations or anything just because this is new territory for me. I'm just going through it and being in the moment, so it's been pretty good," Boston echoed. "We have great vets. They answer all our questions even if we have thirty. They're just very engaging for us."
Sides is pushing these women hard as she looks to create a winning culture.
"We had a great meeting on Saturday night. Everyone really bought into what we're trying to do here, and you just hear it out there. There's just a lot of excitement," Sides concluded. "It's a different feel this early in training camp. I don't want to get too excited, but I am really excited about where we are after practice five."
The Indiana Fever's regular season begins on Friday, May 19 at home against the Connecticut Sun at 7 p.m.