top of page

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Thanks for subscribing!

This Major Issue Is The Bottleneck For The Indiana Fever

The Indiana Fever seem to have struck gold by landing Caitlin Clark and Aliyah Boston with the first overall picks in the last two years. However, the team has to address a problem in order for their investments to pan out.

Indiana Fever's Leadership is Flawed

As in any sport, a transitional period occurs from the college level to the professional level. Learning curves are natural, and some athletes take longer to adjust to the professional game than others. With women's basketball, we saw Kelsey Plum become the women's college basketball scoring leader and go first overall in the WNBA Draft. It took Plum, one of the most prolific scorers in the history of women's basketball, multiple seasons before she became a start once again.


Now, for the Fever, who have arguably the most polarizing WNBA prospect of all time in Caitlin Clark, the challenge is to ensure her development is in the best hands. Clark is currently averaging 16.3 points per game, 6.6 assists, and 5.4 rebounds per game. However, she is turning the ball over at a historic rate, with 5.6 turnovers per game.


The numbers don't tell you that an alarming rate of her turnovers results from beautifully placed passes going to waste by either being mishandled and then going out of bounds or being smoked wide-open layup opportunities. Clark is also coming off a 13-assist performance, which set the Indiana Fever franchise record for most assists in a game during their one-point nail-biting loss to the Chicago Sky.


The hype about Caitlin Clark primarily comes from her shooting ability and her dominance in college at Iowa. Transitioning to the WNBA, her numbers have obviously taken a huge dip, but she is still producing at a high level and has a strong chance to be the Rookie of the Year. This would give the Fever back-to-back rookies of the year since Fever forward Aliyah Boston took home the award last season.


So with consecutive seasons of hitting pay-dirt on young standouts with one of them coming off one of the most dominant careers in NCAA history, what is the weak-link for this team? When it comes to young players like Clark and Boston needing to develop as they transition to the pros, there is legitimate concern with their leader, head coach, Christie Sides.

Indiana Fever Head Coach, Christie Sides

Indiana head coach Christie Sides is no stranger to coaching. She has been coaching the game of basketball for over 20 years. Sides has been back and forth between coaching at the collegiate level and the WNBA as an assistant. She even had a stint as an assistant coach with the Indiana Fever from 2017 to 2019 before being named the head coach in 2023.


With Christie Sides, her basketball knowledge is not in question. What is in question is the fact that in over 20 years of coaching, Sides has never been a head coach. Not to say that she isn't capable of being a head coach, but it is hard to ignore her lack of experience when videos circulated on social media of Caitlin Clark looking visibly frustrated with her head coach in their final huddle. Sides was being criticized on Sunday for Clark's lack of usage in the game's final minutes, in which the Fever blew a large lead to lose to the Chicago Sky by a single point.


To make matters worse, coach Sides was asked in the post-game presser about the play call down one point with seven seconds left and a chance to win the game. The play resulted in Caitlin Clark using an Aliyah Boston screen to draw in the defense and swing the ball back to Boston for a long jumper, which missed the rim. Coach Sides' explanation left fans scratching their heads.


"I mean, it was just to get a quick touch right there, [Aliyah Boston] turn, and a get a basket," Sides said.


The issue? Caitlin Clark, NCAA basketball's leading scorer for both men and women, who the Fever just selected first-overall, was on the floor and the final shot wasn't designed to go to her. Clark is a player you expect one day to come up big in these moments, and she is simply used as a decoy. This is no disrespect to Aliyah Boston, but it is an inexcusable miscalculation by the head coach.



There was also an incident earlier this month where coach Sides had both Caitlin Clark and Aliyah Boston playing in the middle of the fourth quarter while down more than 20 points, and both players ended up exiting the game with injuries, to which Sides said, "They wanted to fight," when asked about the decision. Players always want to play, but it is also a coach's job to protect players from themselves. Clark might be the largest investment in the history of women's basketball, and she was put at risk to "fight" in a blowout loss. Luckily the injuries were not serious.


When you consider these head-scratching decisions and the negative body language Caitlin Clark displays toward her head coach, this may not be a great pairing long term. In order to unlock Clark and Boston's potential, they need to have a coach they believe in.


To be fair, inexperienced head coaches are expected to make these types of mistakes since there is a learning curve for coaching as well. Unfortunately for Sides, the development of Caitlin Clark and Aliyah Boston is Indiana's top priority. They are transitioning into the league, and in order to foster their development correctly, they should not be led by someone transitioning into a head coaching role.


 

Check out Stadium Rant for the best fan-led journalism


EXCLUSIVE DISCOUNTS: 


Order your favorite whiskey or spirit for the big game right to your doorstep and use code STADIUMRANT10 for a 10% discount at Caskers

Use code STADIUMRANT20 for a 20% discount at Bulletproof Coffee, SwingJuice and Performix

If you love to shotgun beers, use code STADIUMRANT10 at Wild Man Drinking Company.


MORE FROM STADIUM RANT:


If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to our newsletter here. Check out Stadium Rant Original shows on our Youtube channel and subscribe! Give our socials Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok a follow for more great content!



Comments


bottom of page