Fever in the Finals: Notes from the Road
by Scott Agness
October 15, 2012
Editors Note: Pacers.com’s Scott Agness is traveling along with the Fever during their time on the road during the WNBA Finals. Check back for periodic updates.
What are birds doing in here? Where to eat? Most importantly: Is our flight on time?
Those are some of the many questions you ask while sitting around at the airport, waiting to get on your way.
After the Fever won game two of the Eastern Conference Finals in Indianapolis to even the series 1-1, Tamika Catchings told her teammates post-game to "Pack for the Finals!" So that’s what they did. The Fever then still had to go into Connecticut and win game three. And that’s what they did.
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Getting to and from the Mohegan Sun Arena (where the Sun play) is a haul—there are no direct flights and at least an hour bus ride is guaranteed. (It’s not easy booking 17 seats under short notice and sometimes isn't possible, so the players went on one flight, the coaches on a different one, and the support staff on another.) The good news is that the hotel is really nice and the team departed Friday morning knowing that they were going back to the Finals.
The Fever arrived in Minnesota, home of the Western Conference Champion Lynx, late Friday to complete nearly a nine-hour travel day. The team hotel in downtown Minneapolis is now home for the next six days.
Saturday, the Fever got back on the court for practice. Since the WNBA season is running a month later due to the Olympic break, there are now conflicts with the NBA. Therefore, both Minnesota and Indiana were forced to use the practice court, as the Timberwolves hosted the Chicago Bulls for a preseason contest Saturday evening.
That night, play-by-play man Chris Denari, trainer Todd Champlin and I attended the T-Wolves game. It sure is nice to see the NBA season back. The last two months of the previous season were spectacular and the league, to me, seems to be very healthy.
Whenever I'm at other professional arenas, I'm very tough to please. Probably because in Indianapolis, we are extremely fortunate to have world-class venues—Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Lucas Oil Stadium, and you can even throw Victory Field in there. All unique and impressive.
But, the more places I visit, the more and more impressed I am with the Fieldhouse. Every aspect—from the parking underneath for the team bus and players, to the entry pavilion, video boards, and size (and number) of the locker rooms. What we have at the Fieldhouse is first-class.
Five of the 11 players on the Fever roster, along with Coach Dunn, were with the team in 2009 when they lost to Phoenix. This time, they're hoping for a different result.
On Sunday night, Game one of the WNBA Finals was finally here. It was clear at shootaround there were different energies across the team. All were excited and prepared. Others were also on edge, nervously awaiting the tip that night.
What separates this bunch from other teams in the league is their experience and unselfishness. Catchings has done it all in her career and her guidance is extremely valuable. Tammy Sutton-Brown and Katie Douglas are both veterans who have played in big games and dealt with the pressure. Unfortunately, Douglas was home resting a sore ankle but her presence was certainly missed—at practice, in the locker room and on the bus—where everything was quieter! The bench, an advantage for Indiana in this series, filled in nicely in our big road win to open the WNBA Finals.
Fans in Indy should know that the team really appreciates all the support and good vibes sent their way. I can't say enough how cool it is to see the Indianapolis teams all support one another. After the Colts game Sunday, Reggie Wayne wore a Fever t-shirt with "I Believe" on the front. Rallying together ... what a cool gesture. And I expect to see many Pacers and Colts players on hand Friday for Game Three at the Fieldhouse.
The Fever had Monday off, with the exception of media responsibilities for a half-hour, and will mostly spend their day resting, getting treatment and a massage. This late in the season, rest is very valuable. Be sure to watch Game Two on Wednesday at 8 p.m. EST on ESPN, or listen to Chris Denari’s call on 1070 The Fan.
Until then, for me, it’s back to eating take-out, exploring Minneapolis and making a home out of my hotel room for six days.
Note: The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Indiana Pacers. All opinions expressed by Scott Agness are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Indiana Pacers, their partners, or sponsors.