Tamika Catchings has sort of been given the Peyton Manning or LeBron James treatment.
Many pulled for the 2001 draft pick to finally bring home the ultimate prize and many have enjoyed seeing her celebrate the Fever’s 2012 title (Tamika’s first) over the past eight months.
But while visiting President Obama to celebrate the culmination of 11 years of hard work, Catchings didn’t try to forget for one second that the Fever are currently 1-4 and that climbing out of last place is the number one task at hand.
“Now we got to get back to business,” Catchings said at the White House on Friday.
The Fever have lost four straight since opening the season with a win at San Antonio. Their losses have come to Atlanta, New York, Phoenix and, most recently, Connecticut. The Sun are the reigning No. 1 seed out of the East, Atlanta has been a solid team for a while now, Phoenix was the preseason favorite to win it all and the Liberty are 4-2.
Now some of those teams were dealing with injuries when Indiana faced them this year, but you could still make the case that they were all tough opponents and that the WNBA’s parity right now is the reason the defending champs have had such a rough start. Not to mention the fact that they are now getting every team’s best effort and the fact that they have a lot of injury problems themselves.
“You win a championship and now everybody’s gunning for you,” Catchings said. “When you’re not at full force it’s hard.
“We just gotta re-focus,” she added. “You never want to start a season and then go all the way back to the bottom, you want to start at the top.”
Unfortunately for the Fever, it doesn’t look like you can pencil in a win against the Washington Mystic team they are about to face on Sunday as part of their trip to the nation’s capital.
The Mystics have defeated the Tulsa Shock and the Sun and as of right now are responsible for giving the feared Minnesota Lynx (4-1) their only loss of the season. The big storyline for them coming into Sunday’s game is Ivory Latta, who has moved up to No. 8 on WNBA.com’s Race to the MVP. She has been the leading scorer in all three of the Mystics’ wins and as of right now their is no indication that she won’t be the hero for them in pretty much every game for the rest of the season.
Washington’s last game was that win over Minnesota, which was the team’s first home victory of the season. Expect Verizon to have a great atmosphere now that the team has the chance to beat both of the 2012 Finals participants in back-to-back home games. However, the Mystics had momentum when they beat the Lynx, having won the night before as well. Now they will have had eight days off and could be a little rusty. The Fever, on the other hand, played as recently as Wednesday.
In addition, the Fever are still the defending champions no matter how poorly they are playing. They still have one of the best players in the league in Catchings, and how about Shavonte Zellous leading them in scoring right now with 18.4 points per game? Her career best ppg average prior to this season was 11.9, which she accomplished during her rookie year with the Detroit Shock.
All in all, there is a long way to go for both of these teams, but both could really use a win on Sunday. The Fever for obvious reasons – they are in last place – and the Mystics because even with their early success they still haven’t completely washed away the bad taste from last year. Mike Thibault made it clear last weekend: they are still hungry for every win they can get at this stage of the rebuilding process.