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Fever and Sun Meet Again

By: Madison Warfel

The last time the Indiana Fever and the Connecticut Sun met, a trip to the WNBA Finals was on the line. Tonight, the stakes weren’t quite so high. The 2013 WNBA season is still freshly begun, still in the baby stages of life. A playoff game it was not, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t important. Both teams badly needed to win.

Last season the Sun finished with the best record in the Eastern Conference, the Fever finished right behind. The two teams seemed destined to meet in the Conference Finals. The Fever won that series, 2 games to 1, and then went on to beat the Minnesota Lynx for their first ever WNBA championship.

But that was last season. This season is quite different, for both teams. Both teams came into tonight’s game with a 1-3 record, both losers of three straight. Last season they were first and second in the conference, respectively. Now in the young 2013 season, they share last place.

There are only 34 games in the WNBA season. Let’s not kid ourselves; every game is important. 5 games in and we’re nearly a fifth of the way through the season. Neither team wanted to lose tonight, move to 1-4, and dig themselves an even deeper hole in which to dig out of.

Turns out the Sun wanted to lose a little less. Behind 30 points from Tina Charles and 12 from Kara Lawson, the Sun defeated the Fever 73-61. Tamika Catchings was held to just 11 points on 3-15 shooting.

While the team names are exactly the same as when the Fever and Sun faced off in the Eastern Conference Finals last year, both team’s lineups were a bit different this time around.

Katie Douglas, Erin Phillips, Jessica Davenport, and Jeanette Pohlen were all absent from tonight’s game for Indiana. All four players are nursing various injuries. Douglas is the only one of the four to have seen any action this season. Starting at guard for the Fever tonight was rookie Layshia Clarendon. And while she had a decent game with 9 points and 4 assists, it’s clear that she shouldn’t be asked to be starting games this early in her career.

“This is an adjustment for everybody, playing with new people and being short on numbers,” said starting Fever point guard Briann January.

The Sun have had their fair share of injuries as well. Renee Montgomery and Tan White both missed tonight’s game due to injury, and both were key contributors to the success Connecticut was able to obtain last year. Connecticut also only retained 7 players from last year to this year and has a new coaching staff this season.

“This is a new system for us, this is a new coaching staff for us, and so it’s not going to click from day one,” said Sun point guard Kara Lawson. “We’re still learning and growing. I think we just need more time in the system. And the healthier we get, that will certainly give us a boost. “

“We’re missing two great players, but it’s helping other people to step up and give them confidence,” added Tina Charles.

The two squads that battled tonight were not the same squads that battled for a chance to play for a championship last year. As we search for why the two teams with the best records in the Eastern Conference in 2012 suddenly find themselves at the bottom of the Eastern Conference in 2013, I think that’s partially what we can point to.

While there certainly is no need for either team to panic at this point, a healthy concern is appropriate.

The question that remains then, is whether these two teams can take what they have now and make it back to the Eastern Conference Finals.

“We’re going to continue to grow and we’re going to continue to become more familiar with our team. Our effort is going to be there every game,” said January.

“Last year they (Fever) had a shaky start too and they come back and won it all. It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. That’s what we’re going with too,” said Charles.

How you finish is certainly important. But a good finish can only accomplish so much.

Injuries or not, the Indiana Fever and the Connecticut Sun have their work cut out for them if they plan on meeting up again in the Eastern Conference Finals.

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