May 21, 2024 

‘Now’s the time’: 0-4 Indiana Fever need to find identity

Kelsey Mitchell: "Even though we have new people and new faces, we have to establish [an identity]"

INDIANAPOLIS — If the Indiana Fever could have any superpower, they’d probably choose the ability to freeze time. 

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For the Fever, the 22-day turnaround from the WNBA Draft to training camp to preseason to the first four games of their regular season has felt like mere seconds. Between acclimating their rookies and newcomers, building team chemistry and having little time for practice, the days flew by. 

But there’s no time to waste for the 0–4 Fever. 

“We really have to seize each day,” center Temi Fagbenle said. “And like [Kelsey Mitchell] said the other day, [we have to] stop wasting time. That’s really what we have to do — stop wasting time. We don’t have time. Now’s the time.”

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There were major improvements in Indiana’s 88–84 loss to the Connecticut Sun on Wednesday, but the clock is ticking. They’re four games into a 40-game regular season and have yet to notch a win. It’s going to take time for this team to build the chemistry required to win — but time is a luxury that WNBA teams don’t have. 

Fagbenle was a bright spot in Monday night’s narrow loss, though. She came off the bench and finished the game with an 11-point, 10-rebound double-double and consistently gives the team a necessary veteran presence. 

“She’s somebody that you never have to question how she’s going to show up and work,” rookie guard Caitlin Clark said. “She plays great defense. She’s long, she’s athletic. She’s been somebody who has been, honestly, really motivational for me coming into this league. She’s always had my back and been there and picked me up and helped me learn.” 

Relying on the Fever’s bench worked. When Clark had to leave the game briefly to wrap her ankle after a minor injury, the team went on an 8–0 run to finish the first half. Fagbenle was a reliable asset when on the court, while guards Erica Wheeler and Kristy Wallace provided some good minutes off the bench. 

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But in the end, the Indiana Fever couldn’t close out a close game — something head coach Christie Sides has been stressing for the past year as a necessary improvement. To their credit, the Fever kept it close until the final seconds on the clock. But they were never able to gain a significant lead over the veteran Sun who have now bested the Fever twice in the span of a week. 

If only they had more time. 

But time can’t be used as an excuse for this game — or any other. It can’t be used as an excuse for the team’s chemistry or decisions made on the court. Unfortunately, there is no superpower to freeze time, so the Fever need to make the best of every second they’re given. 

Yet, they won’t get a moment to breathe any time soon. 

The Fever will soon depart for a three-game road trip on the west coast, where they’ll face off against the Seattle Storm, the Los Angeles Sparks and the defending champion Las Vegas Aces, which will feature a matchup between former Hawkeye teammates Clark and Kate Martin

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There’s little time for rest and virtually no time for a normal practice schedule. The Indiana Fever will have to learn from their mistakes, but they’ll have to learn primarily from competition that counts. Meanwhile, they hope that along the way, they’ll find their identity. 

“Even though we have new people and new faces, we have to establish [an identity] and I hate to say it, but we don’t have one to me, and I think that’s our next step,” guard Kelsey Mitchell said. “I think that our next step is to establish what we’re going to be, not just what social media says or what the world is saying. Who we actually can be.”

Written by Talia Goodman

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