COLUMN: Three reasons why Indiana would be a perfect fit for Megan Gustafson

COLLEGE PARK, MD - JANUARY 04: Megan Gustafson
COLLEGE PARK, MD - JANUARY 04: Megan Gustafson /

If Pokey Chatman feels like she needs a true center to backup Teaira McCowan, Gustafson could find a new home in Indiana.

On Wednesday, Fever Head Coach and General Manager Pokey Chatman trimmed her roster down to 12 players by waiving 6’4 forward Kayla Alexander.  The move leaves Indiana without a true center to back up 6’7 rookie Teaira McCowan.

If Chatman feels like she’s able to make one more roster cut, Megan Gustafson would be an excellent fit coming off the Fever’s bench.  Gustafson was cut by the Dallas Wings on Wednesday night.

During her senior year at Iowa, Gustafson led the nation by scoring 27.8 points per game and was third in the nation with 13.8 rebounds per game.  The 6’3 center was the 17th pick in the draft.

The only other center currently listed on Indiana’s roster is 6’3 F/C Natalie Achonwa, who spent the fall and winter in China playing power forward. Achonwa said her season in China was a perfect simulation for her role this year in Indiana.

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Chatman is confident McCowan will be a solid rim protector and rebounder.  The rookie led the Fever in rebounds (21) and blocks (4) during the preseason.  She has also shown an ability to alter and contest shots in the paint.  However, what happens if McCowan gets in foul trouble? How many minutes can a physical player like McCowan be expected to play during her rookie season?

Chatman might feel like she needs a true center to sub in for McCowan at some point this year.  If so, here are three reasons why Gustafson would be an excellent pickup.

She would provide a nice boost offensively

Gustafson led the nation by shooting 69.6% from the field during her final college season. McCowan has already proven she can defend and grab rebounds, but Chatman has not wanted her first-round pick to focus on scoring as she adjusts to the WNBA. McCowan only attempted 10 shots in three preseason games. A player with Gustafson’s ability to knock down 15-foot jumpers at such a high percentage would be a nice change of pace coming off the bench.

Gustafson’s offensive talent would also help because the Fever are still stinging from the loss of sharpshooter Victoria Vivians, who will be out all year rehabbing a torn ACL.  Achonwa, Candice Dupree, and Kelsey Mitchell are the only returning players who averaged double-figures in points last year.  Dupree is confident Indiana will be a vastly improved defensive team this year, but admitted, “We don’t have the most loaded team offensively.”  While McCowan’s mere presence should help the Fever’s defense this year, Gustafson’s presence would help out on the offensive end of the floor.

The Fever could use another rebounder

Achonwa led the Fever with 6.9 rebounds per game last year.  Dupree was next with 6.4, but no one else averaged more than 3.1 boards a game.  McCowan, who led the Fever with 21 rebounds during the preseason, will certainly help.  Chatman is confident 6’3 forward Stephanie Mavunga is ready to make a big improvement during her second season and provide rebounding off the bench.  But since Achonwa, Dupree, and McCowan are likely starters, Gustafson would fill a need if Chatman wants more rebounding from her bench.

Iowa fans will travel

There was a lot of black and gold at Bankers Life Fieldhouse during the 2019 Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis. Hawkeye fans were more than willing to make the 364-mile drive to watch one of the most beloved players in school history.  During the NCAA Tournament, Iowa set an attendance record during its first and second-round games in Iowa City.  At the very least, Gustafson’s presence should increase TV viewership for Fever games, which would be nice since Indiana will appear on CBS Sports Network 12 times in 2019.

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