The Indiana Fever announced that the team will arrive in Bradenton, Fla. on Saturday after initially delaying their travel when two players tested positive for COVID-19. Following the WNBA’s last round of league-wide COVID-19 testing before teams were scheduled to leave for Florida, the league announced that seven players out of 137 tested positive and that the Fever would “delay their travel by at least five days in an abundance of caution due to the CDC’s close contact self-quarantine requirements.” The Fever did not release which players had tested positive for COVID-19, but the Indy Star reported that two players had tested positive.
TRAVEL DAY ✈️🙌
See you soon, Wubble 🏀🌴☀️https://t.co/l2PQAJgqZm
— Indiana Fever ⛹️♀️🏀 (@IndianaFever) July 11, 2020
“We thank Pacers Sports & Entertainment and WNBA leadership for diligently working on a safe course of action for our players and staff to travel,” Fever President Dr. Allison Barber said in a statement. “Our team is excited to tip off the 2020 WNBA season and we invite Hoosiers in all 92 counties to watch our games via our new streaming capabilities.”
While most of the Fever will arrive in Bradenton today, Erica Wheeler announced that she would have to quarantine for a bit longer before she can join the team. Last season, Wheeler started every game while averaging 10.1 points and five assists per game on her way to becoming an All-Star for the first time in her career. The star guard started her career in Puerto Rico, earning $200 a week after going undrafted in the WNBA, and last year, she was named MVP of the All-Star Game after she finished with 25 points and a game record-tying seven three-pointers.
Exciting day for my team Indiana Fever as they head down to Florida to tip off the 2020 WNBA season. However, I'll be a few days behind the team as I follow one more round of WNBA protocol. I feel good, healthy and ready to go!! Can't wait to get to Florida!! Let's go Fever pic.twitter.com/uDj7sMj1KL
— ひ Erica Wheeler ひ (@EWeezy_For3eezy) July 11, 2020
Led by new head coach Marianne Stanley, the team recently finalized its roster after releasing guard Betnijah Laney and adding Stephanie Mavunga, after the forward was removed from the “Non-Active/Non-WNBA Injury” list. As The Next reported, the Fever’s 12-woman lineup features nine returners from last year, including veterans Candice Dupree and Natalie Achonwa. Rookies Lauren Cox, Julie Allemand, and Kathleen Doyle are all looking to get their first taste of WNBA action this summer.
The 2020 WNBA season is set to tip off on July 25 — two and a half months after it was originally scheduled to do so — at IMG Academy, with 22 games in the regular season and a normal playoffs format that will stretch into October. Following their arrival in Bradenton, all players, coaches and staff were required to quarantine in their rooms for four days before starting practice. Training camps for each team on site began on Friday, with players able to practice with their teams for the first time.