Catchings on mend as camp arrives
By Kristen Leigh Porter
It was a surreal sight, even for a coach with four decades of experience.
Indiana Fever coach Lin Dunn visited Tamika Catchings shortly after the Fever star had surgery in September to repair her torn right Achilles tendon. The 6-1 forward wore a soft cast on her right leg and a boot on her left foot, where she previously had suffered a partially torn plantar fascia that caused her to miss the final 13 games of the regular season.
"She was definitely horizontal," Dunn said. "I think it's amazing to see where she was and where she is now and how hard she's worked to get there."
As WNBA training camps open today, Dunn doesn't expect Catchings to be available for early-season games. Catchings will be in camp but remains on her own rehabilitation workout regimen. No target date is set for her return.
The face of a franchise that was one win from its first trip to the WNBA Finals last season, Catchings averaged 16.6 points and 9.0 rebounds in the regular season and 15.8 points and 11.0 rebounds for six playoff games.
"I feel good. I've come a long way and am back on the court doing stuff," said Catchings, who is rehabbing several times a week. "I'm not 100 percent, but the biggest thing for me is cardio, just getting my wind back."
Fever players will meet today and begin practice Monday.
"Personally, I'd love to be back in uniform and start the season off with a bang," Catchings said. "It just takes time for something like this to heal."
Said Dunn: "We're not going to put any pressure on her . . . The last thing we want to have happen is for her to go too fast and that set her back."
Returning Fever players Alison Bales and Kasha Terry also will be at camp. All other veterans are still overseas playing in foreign leagues until early May, including offseason addition Katie Douglas, a standout at Perry Meridian High School and Purdue. Douglas is playing in Spain and will arrive the second week of May.
Prospective players reporting to camp include seven free agents or rookies: LaToya Bond, Stephanie Higgs, Jennifer Humphrey, Erin Lawless, Khadijah Whittington, Angelina Williams and Michelle Woods. There is the possibility of two or three available spots.
"I think what happens when you do have spots available is that it makes training camp extremely intense with lots of high energy," Dunn said.
Lawless, a former Purdue player, was waived in camp last season after suffering a concussion that limited her ability to play.
From August 2007 through the beginning of this month, Lawless played in Italy. She learned from the experience and believes she can help the Fever.
"I really like to use my versatility," she said. "One of the better things about me is not only am I a post player and strong physical presence inside, but I can go out and hit the 3 or a jump shot and drive to the basket."
Humphrey, who starred at the University of Kentucky, also was waived late in Fever camp last year.