Marianne Stanley announced as new Indiana Fever coach, Tamika Catchings promoted to general manager

Photo Credit: Darrell Walker/Icon SMI/Corbis/Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

The first of the two WNBA head coaching vacancies that existed had been filled as the Indiana Fever announced who will be at the helm for the young team’s forseeable future.

Marianne Stanley, who spent the last decade of her coaching career as an assistant with the Washington Mystics, was announced as the new coach of the Indiana Fever. It is the second time she has held a head coaching gig as she previously was the Mystics head coach as well in the early 2000s. In 2002, Stanley was named Coach of the Year.

Stanley was also previously an assistant with the New York Liberty and Los Angeles Sparks. In 2002, she was enshrined into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame.

Stanley will take over a team that for the next few seasons will be displaced from Bankers Life Fieldhouse as it undergoes renovations during NBA offseasons. The Fever’s home court will be Hinkle Fieldhouse on the campus of Butler University for at least the 2020 and 2021 seasons.

The news was first broken by Howard Megdal at High Post Hoops.

In addition, it was also announced that Tamika Catchings, who recently assumed a role as the team’s Vice President of Basketball Operations was promoted to general manager.

Allison Barber (president and COO of the Fever), Catchings and Stanley all attended the introductory press conference. Natalie Achonwa was also on hand along with Steve Simon, owner of Pacers Sports & Entertainment and Rick Fuson, PSE’s president and COO.

We are going to build the premier franchise in the WNBA right here in Indiana and we’re doing that based on our three pillars – commit, compete and contribute.

–Allison Barber, president and COO

Stanley said midway through the presser that she met with Achonwa the night prior.

We have sat together probably for … the last two months or so really thinking about the next direction of our Indiana Fever team.

–Tamika Catchings

Catch praised Stanley on three attributes – championship mentality, her ability to teach and maintains a competitive nature.

I think we’re a lot alike in just our journey and wanting to win … the two of us have spent quite a bit of time … I don’t know which one of us is more competitive.

–Tamika Catchings

When Stanley spoke, she highlighted the portion of the interview process where she recalled the commitment that Pacers Sports and Entertainment has to professional women’s basketball in a state that lives, eats, sleeps and breathes hoops.

I just felt the passion and the commitment to this franchise and to this team. It was real. It was palpable. And that made me feel like I this was the type of place that I could leave Washington for. I always said to Mike, ‘You know, I’m not going to leave for just any old job. I love what I do.’

–Marianne Stanley, new head coach, Indiana Fever

Stanley did admit later in the press conference that she “always had a little itch,” but that the situation had to be the right one with the right people, right commitment and a winning mentality.

She particularly mentioned Catchings as she was part of the 2012 Fever team that won a championship and the 2015 that returned to the Finals before losing to the Minnesota Lynx. Indiana also reached the Finals in 2009 prior to losing to the Phoenix Mercury.

Stanley then thanked Ted Leonsis, Sheila Johnson, Mike Thibault and the Mystics’ front office at Monumental Sports. The Mystics will enter the 2020 season as the defending WNBA champions.

I will be indebted to him for all that he’s done for me and my family in that process.

–Marianne Stanley, new head coach, Indiana Fever

Stanley recalled that going to work everyday while with the Mystics was “worthwhile.”

That’s what you want. When you love what you do, you want to be able to do it with excitement and joy and commitment and they made that possible for me.

–Marianne Stanley, new head coach, Indiana Fever

The Mystics played the Fever on three occasions in 2019. Washington won all three get-togethers with Indiana.

With Achonwa in attendance, Stanley described her as “an example of what we want the Indiana Fever to look like.” Stanley is assuming the reins of an Indiana team that, minus the tanking, has trusted the process amassed a number of top draft picks – including Teaira McCowan, Tiffany Mitchell, Kelsey Mitchell and Victoria Vivians.

I just thought this was a great opportunity for me and my coaching career – to take a team and to help it get back to the level that it was accustomed to a few years ago. It’s going to take time. People are going to have to be patient, they’re going to have to be willing to work, but we need everybody on board, all the way in, to help us get there.

–Marianne Stanley, new head coach, Indiana Fever

Getting there will require seeing how the young Fever roster manages to develop past its rebuilding stage. Catchings believes that development is as much about the team as a whole as it is on a player-by-player basis.

I look at our team, and we are young, and I think about individually what each player needs to work on. And some of it, sometimes, being put in the right situation and being told and being able to be taught. ‘Why are we doing this?’ or, ‘When are we going to use this in a game?’

–Tamika Catchings

Another attribute important to Catchings was leadership and she believed that said leadership did not only have to originate from veterans such as Achonwa, Erica Wheeler or Candice Dupree but also the younger players such as McCowan, Vivians or one of the Mitchells.

McCowan, who is playing overseas in China, is part of the nucleus of the Fever’s future. Catchings was asked a question about what are Indiana’s plans for her and she mentioned how she gave more experienced bigs such as Brittney Griner, Sylvia Fowles and Liz Cambage problems in the paint.

In Teaira, you have a unique talent and there’s only (a few) teams that (have) bigs like we do in Teaira. Brittney Griner, (Liz) Cambage, Sylvia Fowles and Teaira McCowan. Trust me when I tell you game-planning for Teaira McCowan was a handful. And she can only get better.

–Mariane Stanley, new head coach, Indiana Fever

One of the things that stuck out to Stanley was how the Fever concluded last season. While the Fever’s overall mark was 13-21 in 2019, she praised Indiana on winning seven of its last 13 games, including its last two.

I’m invested in this as a craft and I want our players to be invested in each other and in the Indiana Fever to be the best versions of themselves they can be each and every day.

–Marianne Stanley, new head coach, Indiana Fever

She closed her opening remarks by describing Catchings as “a partner that understands what it takes to win,” and that the goal is to get Fever basketball back to the plateaus it reached in 2012 and 2015.

Tamika’s known worldwide for her class, her talent, her commitment.

–Marianne Stanley, new head coach, Indiana Fever

Towards the end of the press conference, the Fever’s new head coach summed up what the organization’s prime directive is at this juncture – and that having the best team does not necessarily mean creating a “superteam” full of superstars.

Our task is to just blend everything together and put a quality team on the floor that can go win basketball games. And through the draft, to find a player that fits – I have a very strong feeling about getting the right people who fit.

–Marianne Stanley, new head coach, Indiana Fever

Often times, the team that looks best on paper isn’t necessarily the best team when it comes to winning games. There’s so much that goes into it as far as heart and intangibles and playing together as a team. And I think we had that in Washington. Our players didn’t care who scored, who got the credit. It doesn’t matter. All we care about is did we win – and that’s the mindset. A championship mindset.

–Marianne Stanley, new head coach, Indiana Fever

…A culture of winning. A culture of investment in each other so you can look to your left and right, feel good about who you’re in the trenches with that you’re just as happy for their success as your own and you’re not set back by struggles. They empower you and you look at them as opportunities to get better the next day. When you’re doing that, when each and every person feels that way, you can move forward.

–Marianne Stanley, new head coach, Indiana Fever

The Fever were the first team out of last season’s playoff picture, finishing two games behind the eighth-seeded Phoenix Mercury, who are also in the midst of a renovation-induced temporary arena relocation. Indiana will pick third behind the Liberty (likely Sabrina Ionescu) and the Dallas Wings (likely Texas’ very own Lauren Cox) in the 2020 draft.

Mercury home games will take place at Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum in 2020, the former home court of the Phoenix Suns.

With the Fever’s hire, the Liberty remain the only team in the W sans a head coach. One wonders if the Fever’s former coach, Pokey Chatman, could be in line to lead the Libs into Brooklyn.

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