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Indiana Fever feeling refreshed heading towards season opener

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Indiana Fever are just nine days away from the season opener in Gainbridge Fieldhouse. It will be the beginning of a new era for the Fever with first-year head coach Christie Sides at the helm.

“I know Christie is going to change the culture of Indiana Fever basketball. That’s why I’m here,” seven-year veteran Erica Wheeler says.

New coach. New players. New energy. The Indiana Fever are refreshed and ready to go.

“The culture she’s bringing is energetic, fun, and competitive. We needed that,” guard Victoria Vivians said. “The past couple years, three years, it hasn’t been that. I feel like she’s bringing all of that to us. The culture is like I said, it’s so much better. It’s fun to come here. It’s not like I’m coming to work anymore.”

Make no mistake — the Fever are still putting in plenty of work. They’re one of the youngest teams in the league, and that’s not lost on general manager Lin Dunn.

“It reminds me of a kindergarten,” Dunn said. “You’ve got babies, then you got some toddlers, then you got a few that actually need to graduate from kindergarten. You have to be patient with those babies. You have to give them a chance just like you do a baby. They crawl, they walk, they run. You can’t get too frustrated when they’re going through that growing process.”

To be specific, 11 of the 15 players currently on the Indiana Fever roster are starting their first or second season in the WNBA. One of those is this year’s first overall draft pick Aliyah Boston, although she’s not acting like it.

“She has surprised me in a lot of ways,” head coach Christie Sides said. “She’s going to do exactly what we’re asking her to do. She’s going to do it to the best of her ability hard. She’s picking up the defense. The speed and the quickness and the strength of this league is different for her, so she’s trying to figure that out, but she’s just been a dominant figure on both sides already.”

“I feel like I’m ready for this level,” said Boston, after shooting 4-for-5 with eight points in 16 minutes in the preseason game against the Sky Sunday. “Playing against Chicago gave me a little taste of what it’s like. I felt like I was able to find my way throughout the entire game. So just being able to continue to communicate and dominate in the post.”

“You know, these players are young. We’re hungry to win. We’re hungry to prove ourselves as individuals and as a team, as a franchise,” said guard Grace Berger, who was this year’s seventh overall draft pick from Indiana. “Just you know, having a first-year coach along with that, there’s just a lot of excitement from top to bottom.”

The Fever brings that excitement to Gainbridge Fieldhouse Saturday for the final preseason game before the real fun begins May 19.