INDIANAPOLIS — Danielle Robinson remembers being the wide-eyed rookie who wanted to prove she belonged in the WNBA. Now, the 11-year veteran will play alongside five rookies with the Indiana Fever.
“It’s crazy when people talk to me because they’re like, ‘Oh, you’re a super vet!” Robinson said Thursday, laughing. “I really take the role seriously. I love leading. I love bringing my energy, my knowledge of the game to really help grow the game. When I’m done, these players are gonna be around for years to come, so just to be able to lead them in this way with my energy, my example, I’m excited about that.”
Robinson missed the first three games of the season while competing in Turkey but returned stateside earlier this week. She celebrated her 33rd birthday Tuesday by watching the revamped Fever (1-2) defeat the Minnesota Lynx for their first win of the season. She became an active member of the roster Wednesday.
Fever get first win:Kelsey Mitchell catches fire, Crystal Dangerfield haunts old team
Doubters be damned:Fever’s NaLyssa Smith ready to be WNBA’s next big thing
Robinson will likely make her season debut Friday on the road against the New York Liberty. The three-time All-Star is entering her second season in Indiana and looks forward to building chemistry with all of the rookies, especially Destanni Henderson.
Robinson said she’s been impressed with Henderson so far. The 5-7 guard, who helped South Carolina win the 2022 national championship, has started all three games and is averaging 10.3 points and 4.3 assists.
“I think for her, it’s just her poise… She doesn’t really get flustered. She’s very, very even-keeled and as a point guard that’s tough,” Robinson said. “I was very, very emotional when I came in, and she’s just very even-keeled. Her emotions aren’t gonna change, and I think that she’s an exciting player to watch.
“She can dish it out, and obviously she’s scoring for herself as well. I think just coming in and running a team at the next level immediately is always hard, but I think she’s done really well with the transition.”
Robinson was one of the most vocal players in practice Thursday, which was a welcome sign for Fever coach Marianne Stanley.
“We’ve been doing OK without her, but we certainly love having her back,” Stanley said. “Some people come back and they sort of blend in and you don’t notice them as much, but she’s one that we anticipate will have a big impact on how we play.”
Alaina Coates has also returned from Turkey and will bolster Indiana’s frontcourt, though Stanley said Coates might need “another day” and could be held out Friday.
The last player the Fever are waiting to return from overseas is guard Bria Hartley, who’s still competing in Turkey. Robinson said she can’t wait for the team to be at full strength so it can make some noise around the league.
“Wins. Competing and winning. That’s what I want,” Robinson said. “People are gonna say what they’re gonna say, but at the end of the day it’s about what we do as a collective (group) and what we, and I think that we believe in each other.”
Follow IndyStar Pacers beat writer James Boyd on Twitter: @RomeovilleKid. Reach him via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.