Discover more from Fieldhouse Files with Scott Agness
Marianne Stanley out as Fever coach; Get to know interim head coach Carlos Knox and the current challenges
He takes over after the change was made by Fever interim general manager Lin Dunn after nine games. Knox is about winning and calls Indy his second home.
Less than one month into the season, the Indiana Fever are going in a new direction. On Wednesday, they parted way with head coach Marianne Stanley after just over two years.
The team is 2-7. After splitting their first four games, they have dropped five in a row.
Assistant coach Carlos Knox, who was hired in the offseason, will serve as interim head coach.
“With this new group of players, it is time for our organization to go in a different direction. This was a difficult decision, and we wish Marianne the very best in the future,” Fever interim general manager Lin Dunn said in a statement.
Stanley, 68, will be inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in September.
Despite the game results, a new core of players has rejuvenated the team and given new life to loyal fans. There are plenty of reasons to be encouraged by their play, most notably NaLyssa Smith, the second overall pick. (Now she’s dealing with an ankle injury.)
Through at least the end of this season, the team is in a difficult spot. They’re not winning on the court and they’re dealing with many circumstances out of their control.
This past Sunday, the franchise welcomed back the championship team from 2012 for a 10-year anniversary. It was the first time the group had been together in 10 years.
It also was a reminder of how sweet things once were, a strike contrast to the present.
There once was a passionate fanbase. You could expect 7,500 to 9,000 fans at home games regularly and a playoff berth. That’s not the case anymore.
The Fever have missed the playoffs five seasons in a row.
The announced attendance for Sunday was 2,612. The home game before this special occasion: 960. Home attendance was a problem for the Pacers too. They finished last among 30 teams.
The fans that do come to Gainbridge Fieldhouse can only sit on one side of the arena — the east side — to try to create a better and more full presentation for those watching from afar. That neglects some of the best seats in the place, and prevents some fans from experiencing a courtside seat that ordinarily might cost over $300 for an NBA game.
To the organization’s credit, every game is available to stream for free.
The current team was treated to a new practice court, locker room and weight room that’s probably four times the size previously. But they don’t have a real home court; not right now.
For the third consecutive season, they are playing at multiple venues in Indy because of ongoing renovations to The Fieldhouse — where they played their first five games this season. Their next nine will be played at Indiana Farmers Coliseum, then they’ll host their final four games at Hinkle Fieldhouse. That makes it difficult to have season-ticket holders.
Coaching this team is not easy right now, either, considering the inexperience, the lack of success and the need to build a culture. They drafted four players in the first round and those individuals need both time and repetitions to develop. In the meantime, losses have continued. However, they have made some strides.
So now Knox takes over, assisted by Jhared Simpson and Vicki Hall. And Dunn intends to plow forward in an effort to return this franchise back to its winning ways, once a model of success in the WNBA.
“What a blessing and opportunity this is!” Knox wrote in a post on social media. “From my earliest playing days as a kid in Dayton, OH to professional playing opportunities the NBA and overseas, I have always dreamt of an opportunity like this.
“Thank you to Pacers Sports & Entertainment along with the Simon Family for trusting me to lead the Fever basketball team. I deeply appreciate being brought onto the staff by Tamika Catchings and Marianne Stanley and for them believing in my abilities on and off the court as an assistant coach. Thank you Lin Dunn for sharing the desire to take this team to a higher level and allowing me to lead them in that journey. We have something special going on with these players! This is a proud franchise, built on historical success, with an even brighter future. I was fortunate to be involved with the Fever when we reached the pinnacle of basketball and I am determined to do everything in my power to coach this team to a high competing level again.
“Thank you to everyone who has helped my wife Michelle and I along this journey and I cannot wait to get started. Let’s Go Fever!”
Get to know Carlos Knox:
From Dayton, Ohio
Played for Ron Hunter at IUPUI from 1995-98. He still holds the school’s all-time scoring record — with 2,556 points — despite only playing three years.
He then played eight years overseas, with stops in Croatia, Germany, Venezuela and Italy.
But first, he was with the Pacers for the preseason in 1998.
His No. 34 jersey was retired and he was inducted into the IUPUI Athletics Hall of Fame in 2004.
He worked for the Fever previously, from 2014-16, as an assistant coach with an emphasis on player development. For a decade earlier, he created tight bonds with pros like George Hill, Zach Randolph and Tamika Catchings.
He created the Knox Indy Pro Am in 2009 and ran it in the summers for nine years.
He then left to become an assistant coach for the University of North Texas women’s basketball program from 2017-2020.
He spent the past two seasons in nearby Cincinnati as an assistant coach for the University of Cincinnati women’s team.
On Dec. 1, Catchings brought him back to the Fever as an assistant coach for player development. He replaced Steve Smith, whose contract was not renewed.
“Over the last few years, I realized one thing for sure: The pros is where I belong,” he told Fieldhouse Files upon returning to the franchise. “That’s something that I really truly put all my blood, sweat and tears into as a player and as a coach so I’m really ecstatic to be back with the Fever.”
For almost a decade, he previously worked out Fever players (and local collegiate men and women) on their practice court. He occasionally sat in on Pacers practices and built a rapport with key figures.
“I always had a great relationship with (Pacers president) Kevin Pritchard and whoever was the head coach at the time,” Knox said. “From Jim O’Brien to Frank Vogel to Nate McMillan to Brian Shaw, I just had a great relationship with everyone that was a part of our organization. It’s one big family.”
How will the team respond to an early-season shakeup? That’s to be determined. Now it’s on Knox to keep the team afloat and keep moving forward.
Listen to my podcast interview with Knox from December, after he was added to the coaching staff. (Click here for Apple Podcasts, or listen in the player below. The interview begins at 41:20)