May 6, 2022 

Last call: Indiana Fever roster is finalized

How and why Lin Dunn and Marianne Stanley settled on their roster

INDIANAPOLIS —The Indiana Fever had to make numerous cuts to get their roster ready for the regular season. The team entered training camp with 22 players on the squad and had to slash it down to 12 ahead of tonight’s opening night battle with the Washington Mystics.

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Projecting who the Fever would waive was a challenging task, especially with so many players overseas and unproven rookies everywhere. Interim General Manager Lin Dunn had some difficult decisions to make.

Two of the ten choices (waivers) she had to make were made for her. Early on in training camp, it was announced that forward Chelsey Perry would miss the entire 2022 season for personal reasons, and her contract was suspended. Despite a strong rookie season that ended with an ACL tear, Perry will not be on the roster for the red and blue this season.

Not long after, it was revealed that center Bernadett Határ had a knee injury and her contract was also suspended for the entirety of the 2022 season. The Hungarian post player was projected to be an important part of the Fever’s frontcourt rotation, so this injury has a large impact on the Fever’s interior presence.

“That’s a real blow for us,” head coach Marianne Stanley said of the injury. “It’s a real loss for us. We were excited to bring her back.”

Beyond those two suspensions, the Fever still had eight cuts to make. Two of them happened early on in training camp as rookie guards Micaela Kelly and Ali Patberg were released. Indiana brought numerous ball handlers into training camp, so it was tough to make the roster at that position. Once veterans returned from overseas, Dunn moved on from the two rookies.

The other half-dozen waivers trickled in at a slower rate. Haley Gorecki was released on April 26, just four days before the Fever’s first preseason game. At the conclusion of said game, a win over the Chicago Sky, two more moves were made — wings Jazmine Jones and Jaime Nared were let go not long after the final buzzer sounded. Nared did not play in the exhibition, but Jones hit the court for just over two minutes of action, where she grabbed a rebound and dished out an assist. But there wasn’t room on the final roster for her, and Victoria Vivians returned from overseas just before the victory over the defending champs.

Those moves took the Indiana Fever roster down to 15, meaning only three more waivers needed to be made before the regular season opened. Dunn had one more preseason game to assess her roster and make final cuts.

The Fever battled the Dallas Wings on May 2 in their final tune up before the season. They fell 101-89 after dropping a six-point lead, though the team did have a strong offensive performance. Despite some defense wrinkles persisting from last season, the Fever had two strong preseason showings.

After those showings, though, the roster needed to be finalized. A trio of players were waived on Wednesday to get the Fever’s roster down to 12 players, the maximum allowed for the regular season. Those three players were rookies Erin Whalen and Ameshya Williams-Holliday as well as established point guard Lindsay Allen.

Whalen, despite impressive training camp and preseason (eight points and two rebounds vs Chicago) fell to the same fate that Patberg and Kelly did — the Fever roster has too many guards. Williams-Holliday just didn’t show enough during the lead up to the regular season to make the final roster, meanwhile, other young frontcourt players shined during preseason play.

Allen was one of few players remaining from last year’s Indiana Fever team, and Stanley praised her steady play often last season. She certainly had a chance to make the roster. But the Fever chose to retain rookie guard Destanni Henderson, who started both preseason games, as well as veterans Danielle Robinson and Bria Hartley to round out their point guard rotation. Despite an off shooting night in Dallas, Henderson finished the preseason with 16 points, eight assists, and four steals in two games. The second-round pick earned her spot on the team, and Allen became a roster spot casualty.

The Fever roster is now set at 12 (well, 13, more on that momentarily) with the regular season beginning today. The Hartley, Robinson, and Alaina Coates contracts have been temporarily suspended as they still have not arrived in Indianapolis from prior overseas commitments, but they should all join the team in mid-to-late May.

More Indiana Fever preseason notes

-With the contracts of Hartley, Robinson, and Coates being suspended, the Fever had room to add a player on a hardship deal. Dunn brought in 2020 Rookie of the Year Crystal Dangerfield, who was waived by the Lynx earlier this week, to fill that spot. With Hartley and Robinson finishing up overseas, and with Allen being released, Indiana needs more point guard depth alongside rookie Destanni Henderson. Dangerfield can provide that.

-Tenth overall pick Queen Egbo had an excellent preseason, posting a double-double (15 points and 10 rebounds) in the Fever’s first preseason game before following it up with an 11 point, nine rebound performance in Dallas. Her skills on the glass are undeniable, and she could play a sizable role for this Fever team — she moved into the starting lineup in between the two games.

“I was really happy with her stepping up,” Stanley said of Egbo. “She’s an aggressive player to begin with,” she added while lauding her rebounding skill.

Alanna Smith started at center in the Fever’s first preseason game and played the role often during the exhibitions. She ended up making the final roster, and her positional versatility helped her get there.

-Second overall pick NaLyssa Smith and Kelsey Mitchell combined for 22 points in Indiana’s first preseason game and 40 in the second. That doesn’t mean anything yet, and it may not lead to wins right away, but that duo looks like one that could elevate the Indiana Fever out of the WNBA basement.

Written by Tony East

Indiana Fever reporter based in Indianapolis. Enjoy a good statistical-based argument.

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