Tamika Catching On

By Richard Kent
Updated: September 3, 2005

Tamika CatchingsFAIRFIELD, CONNECTICUT—Tamika Catchings may be the best player in the WNBA. She might have been the best player in college at Tennessee before she was injured during her senior year. But her understated style is such that many ignore her in MVP voting, etc. She is a very humble individual and is certainly not flamboyant on the court.

Don’t let her demeanor fool you. No one is more competitive. She wants to lead her Indiana Fever to a WNBA Championship this season and it might just happen. She finally has a supporting cast to assist her and there is far less of a burden on her than there has been in the past for Coach Brian Winters’ squad.

Catchings can do it all. She can shoot with the best in the league from anyplace on the court, including driving to the basket, passing when she is double-teamed, which is often, and is a great rebounder. Probably got that from her dad, Harvey, who was an NBA star for years. His defensive prowess is legend and he was one of the few players ever to be able to stop the great Julius Erving.

The New Jersey native and University of Tennessee college star played her high school ball in both Chicago and Texas. In the eighth grade she knew she wanted a professional basketball career. That career would be in the NBA because there was no WNBA. She thought that such a career would not be beyond her reach and her father supported her in that desire. She always dreamed of going to Tennessee and playing for Pat Summitt and Coach Summitt was equally interested. She made very few college visits and as soon as she got to Tennessee on a visit, knew that it was the place for her. She helped lead Tennessee, along with Shamiqua Holdsclaw, to one National Championship and scored a career high 38 points in 27 minutes against Florida in 2000.

Catchings helped the USA to a gold medal in the 2004 Olympics in Athens by starting every game and averaging 6.9 ppg. She was the WNBA Rookie of the Year in 2002. She is a three time WNBA Allstar. Catchings plays in the winter in Korea, where she last led her team to a Korean Championship. She’ll be traveling to Korea for a week in October to help her team in the World Championship Games and will be arriving again in late December for the very difficult four month season.

With the likes of Natalie Williams, Tan White and Deanna Jackson on her Indiana team, she might just achieve a career goal of a college, Olympic and WA championship at a very tender age. New York is the first obstacle. Catchings and her teammates were able to solve that obstacle on Tuesday evening at The Garden. Catchings was her usual selfless self. She had 19 points and 12 rebounds, but her usual genius could be found in her unique ability to make her teammates better. She played more minutes than anyone else on the court – 39 – and was 6-11 from the floor.

Don’t count out any team that has Catchings as its star. She is a winner.