October 31, 2023
Indiana Fever notebook: Catching up with Erica Wheeler, Lexie Hull wins another medal, health, and more
Lottery odds, recoveries and community impact
INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Fever are deep in offseason mode. And no wonder: they’ll learn on December 10 at 4:30 PM ET whether the WNBA Draft Lottery odds, stacked in their favor, will provide them with a number one pick to pair with Aliyah Boston. Indiana holds a 44.2 percent chance of winning that top pick, along with Phoenix (27.6 percent), Los Angeles (17.8 percent) and Seattle (10.4 percent).
The Fever’s season ended nearly two months ago after 13 wins in 40 games, and they showed a ton of progress. Untimely injuries to NaLyssa Smith and clutch woes kept the team out of the playoffs, but they still had a successful campaign.
They are ready to rise up the standings and be a part of the playoff picture. Veteran point guard Erica Wheeler shared her thoughts on the team in a one-on-one conversation with The Next earlier this week.
“We can be here. This could be us,” Wheeler recalled thinking while watching the postseason this year. She couldn’t help but think about her own team during the playoffs. “It wasn’t even about them. It was about the experience that I want for the Indiana Fever,” she thought during Game 4 of the Finals. Wheeler was in attendance.
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For Wheeler, this past season was about leadership and stability. She was an important veteran for the Fever, both thanks to her prior experience as a player and thanks to her past relationship with head coach Christie Sides. She was a culture setter and a game manager.
She averaged 9.9 points and 5.0 assists per game for the team for also teaching her teammates to be a pro. Indiana had several young players last season, and that was a theme of the campaign. Sides reminded reporters often, and the team’s inconsistent play was a constant sign of their youth.
Next year, they will have much more experience. More players will know what to expect when camp opens, and they will know how to handle tough stretches. Indiana will be better next season.
“I think it will help us tremendously. And I just think them seeing the game in a different lens will help,” Wheeler said of having more experience. She is looking forward to the added trust that will come from added wisdom.
Wheeler’s offseason had featured a ton of community work — she spoke to The Next just before helping out at a Million Meal Movement event in Gainbridge Fieldhouse. The next day, she hosted a basketball camp in Indianapolis. Sides was in attendance.
“I’m sure [there’s] another line of things to do within the next couple of months,” Wheeler said. Earlier in the week, she attended a ribbon cutting at the Center for Women and Children Fitness Center.
Among the things Wheeler will do in the next couple of months is try to get better. That’s the goal for every Fever player this offseason.
They want to be in the postseason, and that’s going to require skill growth internally as well as additions at a few key positions — the latter point being something that Wheeler thinks will help the team make the next step. In the meantime, she, and others, are sharpening their skills.
“I think we put teams on notice that we’re not that bottom team that you can just come in, walk into the gym and think you’re going to beat,” Wheeler said of the Fever. Next year, Indiana certainly hopes that is the case.
Some other offseason notes about the Indiana Fever:
Health has returned
Kristy Wallace (knee) and Lexie Hull (shoulder) both ended the season injury for the Fever, but both shared that they are close to recovering. Both are currently playing around the globe, so they appear to be mended. Wallace’s season in Australia begins soon.
Hull had a nice demonstration at her exit interview to show how much she had healed.
Lexie Hull wins a gold medal
Speaking of Hull, she won a 3×3 gold medal in the Pan American Games in Santiago, Chile earlier this month. It’s her second straight offseason playing for Team USA in 3×3 settings. Hull and the red, white, and blue went 5-0 in the competition.
“I just go out and play, and when points come, points come,” Hull said of her play in 3×3 last offseason. “But I think three on three is super special because … it took everyone for that to happen.” More on that can be found here.
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Fever great Tamika Catchings talks 2024 NBA All-Star
Former Fever great and WNBA legend Tamika Catchings, who more recently served as general manager for the franchise, is a co-chair of the All-Star Game Host Committee for the 2024 NBA All-Star game, which is set to take place in Indianapolis next year.
Catchings was the first speaker at the event, going just before NBA commissioner Adam Silver and other Indianapolis community leaders. “On behalf of our NBA All-Star 2024, also the best number you guys know, board and host committee, thank you all for being here,” she opened, jokingly. She, of course, wore jersey number 24 with the Fever.
Aliyah Boston joins NBC Sports
Fever All-Star center Aliyah Boston is joining NBC Sports, via Peacock, as a studio analyst for Big Ten Women’s Basketball coverage this season. She is already off and running in the role.
Boston was terrific with local media last season in Indiana and knows a good story. Her personality should do well on television. “So blessed🙌🏽 another door that God has opened,” Boston tweeted.
Indiana will next be looking forward to the WNBA Draft lottery, which will be televised on