Even before Grace Berger set foot in the WNBA, Indiana Fever veteran guard Erica Wheeler knew the IU product would be an impactful pro.
That realization came in IU’s 87-78 win over then-No. 5 Iowa on Feb. 9, when Berger scored 26 points on 10-of-20 shooting, nine rebounds and six assists.
“I was on the court and she was having a crazy game,” Wheeler said. “I had no doubt that she wouldn’t be good enough for this league. She is definitely good enough.”
Berger stayed close to her alma mater when the Fever selected her with the seventh pick in April’s draft, just three weeks after her career at IU ended.
But Berger doesn’t like to take time off and his transition to the Fever was immediate.
“Grace Berger came in and worked hard from Day 1,” coach Christie Sides said. “She arrived more than a week early, she got to work, waited for her turn and understood.”
But Berger needed to be patient. She was the only player on the Fever roster who did not participate in the season opener on May 19, and her minutes were limited in the first half of the season.
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He continued practicing and training, waiting for the opportunity to present itself. She finally she did it.
“Coming in, you don’t know what you don’t know, so I was bombarded with a lot of information,” Berger said. “New sets, new style of play, having to learn what Coach Christie wants on the court as a point guard, as a leader on the court, so I think I’ve grown in my confidence in that area, being able to know what she wants. and execute it on the field with my team.”
Berger worked his way into the Fever’s rotation, becoming an essential backup to Wheeler. She was usually the first off the bench to replace Wheeler and she averaged more than 21 minutes per game over Indiana’s final 10 games of the season.
“She has all the skills,” Wheeler said. “When her confidence is high, it’s a beautiful thing to see. Just being a veterinarian and seeing her come in, a little nervous, asking all the questions and, in the end, almost answering her own questions, as a veterinarian, that always makes me happy.”
Berger was not a prolific scorer with the Fever this season like she was at IU; She had five games in which she scored more than 10 points and only two games in which she made 10 or more shot attempts. Despite her low attempts, she was efficient. She averaged 4.2 points per game, shooting 44% from the field and 47% from the 3-point line, leading all rookies from beyond the arc.
Her late-season surge paid off, as she was named to the Associated Press All-Rookie Team on Tuesday along with teammate and AP Rookie of the Year Aliyah Boston. The Fever were one of two teams to have two players on the rookie roster, joining Dorka Juhasz and Diamond Miller of the playoff-bound Lynx.
However, Berger’s development is not over. She will travel abroad to play in the Liga Femenina, Spain’s top professional women’s basketball league, for Gernika KESB.
“Grace is a player who can play in all three outside positions, very skilled in handling the ball with great vision and passing ability in addition to being a constant threat in shooting,” said Gernika KESB coach Mario López in a statement translated from Spanish to English. . “…she In defense she has good use of her hands and is quick, as well as generous in her efforts.”
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