Fever, Liberty to play 1st outdoor game
By Kristen Leigh Porter
Posted: April 10, 2008
When Indiana Fever general manager Kelly Krauskopf attended the 2007 U.S. Open, basketball was the furthest thing from her mind. She enjoyed watching Carole King perform before the women's final between tennis heavyweights Justine Henin and Svetlana Kuznetsova.
Wednesday, it was announced that July 19, the Fever will play the New York Liberty outdoors at Arthur Ashe Stadium, the home of the Open, in the first non-tennis sporting event at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
"I have a real fresh, vivid view of what it's going to look like playing on a basketball court in that stadium," Krauskopf said. "To come back now and be part of a basketball game is very exciting. I just hope that there's no rain or wind."
The Liberty Outdoor Classic will be the first WNBA game played outdoors and is the first regular-season outdoor game in either NBA or WNBA history. Fever coach Lin Dunn, who spent the past four seasons as an assistant, said she is hoping King will agree to be the team's honorary coach.
"I can see what a unique opportunity this is to showcase our game," Dunn said.
The Fever also picked up a new player Wednesday, selecting 6-1 forward Khadijah Whittington from North Carolina State with the 26th overall pick in the second round of the WNBA draft.
The Fever did not have a first-round pick for the first time in their history. The pick was part of the trade that brought Katie Douglas and also included Tamika Whitmore.
Whittington, a first-team All-ACC pick and honorable mention All-American, averaged 16.8 points and 11.7 rebounds as a senior.
"I was in shock because (Fever superstar) Tamika Catchings is my favorite player ever and I was like, 'Oh my gosh,' " Whittington said via telephone shortly after the draft. "I can't wait to get there."
With Whitmore gone, the Fever were looking for a forward to provide energy and rebounding. Dunn had kept on eye on Whittington, whom she dubbed "Baby Tamika."
"I can't think of a higher compliment to pay somebody because Tamika Catchings, in the way she plays the game with her relentless pursuit of excellence and how hard she works . . . to be able to find another player like that is a huge plus for our team," Dunn said.
Although this was one of the deepest drafts in league history, Krauskopf said she thought Whittington would go higher in the second round.