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Catchings looking at 6-9 months of recovery from injury

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.