Catchings looking at 6-9 months of recovery from injury

Updated: September 7, 2007, 4:20 PM ET
Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS -- Tamika Catchings could start rehabilitation on her injured foot in about six weeks.

Her complete recovery from a torn Achilles tendon that cost the Indiana Fever a chance at their first WNBA championship appearance will take a lot longer.

"It ended up being a little more serious than they thought it was at first,'' Catchings said Friday. "They thought it was a clean tear, but when they went in [they found] it actually ripped off the bone, so they ended up having to pin it back to the bone and fuse it back together.''

The perennial All-Star tore the tendon in her right foot during the deciding Eastern Conference playoff game against Detroit on Monday. Two days later, she had surgery. Her recovery now is projected at six to nine months, which could prevent her from playing in Europe this winter, normally part of her offseason routine, or preparing for the Olympics next summer.

"Instead of only having to be in the splints for two weeks, I have to be in the splints for four weeks now,'' she said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. "And then from there, two weeks in a boot and then rehab after that.''

It wasn't the first injury for the franchise career leader in just about everything, including points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocked shots.

She was the third overall pick in the 2001 draft, but her pro career was delayed a year because she tore a ligament in her right knee during her senior season at Tennessee and then tore cartilage in the same knee during preseason practice with the Fever.

Last year, she missed two games with a sprained right arch and did not play in the league's All-Star Game -- she was the leading vote-getter -- because of a heel injury. This season, the Fever won 16 of their first 20 games, the best start in the WNBA, before Catchings went out with an injury to her left foot.

Indiana went 5-9 the rest of the regular season, but with Catchings back for the playoffs, the Fever beat Connecticut in the first round and were within one victory of ousting the defending champion Shock in the conference finals before Catchings went out again.

"This is the year we really wanted to win the championship and really thought we could,'' she said. "We had a great team, as far as the players. Every year, it's always been different, different team, different core. This year was the first year where we were actually able to build off a core group. The biggest thing is just building off of that.''

Catchings had planned to play in Poland starting in February, but that's on hold until she sees how her rehabilitation is going. She also said she wants to stay with Indiana rather than go to another team as a free agent.

"I started my career here and would love to end my career here,'' she said. "But I know a lot of it goes to talking with [general manager] Kelly Krauskopf and trying to figure out what step forward we take for the franchise to win the championship.''

Despite the recurring injuries, the 28-year-old Catchings said she has never considered quitting basketball.

"It is disappointing when you go from one injury to another injury to another injury, but even with that, my faith in Him and what He has planned for me goes way beyond the realm of even possibly thinking about retirement,'' she said.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press