The Phoenix Mercury struggled during their 2011 season with point guard play. Temeka Johnson, who played a big role in the team's 2009 Championship run, started the season slow due to an ankle injury and never seemed to find a rhythm. To address that need and give the team a better scoring option to keep defenses honest, head coach and newly appointed General Manager Corey Gains swapped Johnson for Andrea Riley of the Tulsa Shock.
Riley was originally taken eighth overall in the 2010 WNBA draft by the Los Angeles Sparks out of Oklahoma State University where she averaged 26.7 points per game as a senior.
"Andrea Riley is someone we had our eye on coming out of college," Head Coach and General Manager Corey Gaines said. "She is a fast guard who can score the ball and shoot the three. She has the ability to change the pace of the game and we think she is a player who can thrive in our system."
Here's a bit more on Riley's season last summer:
Prior to the 2011 season, Riley was traded to the Tulsa Shock. On March 29, 2011, nine weeks before the start of her second season in the WNBA, Riley gave birth to a daughter, Tiana. She returned to the court and played 33 of Tulsa's 34 games that season, missing only the first game of the year. Riley averaged 6.0 points and 1.8 assists in 19.0 minutes per game. She started 10 of those 33 games, including the final five games of the season in place of the injured Ivory Latta. In those five games as the designated starter, Riley averaged 13.2 points and 3.8 assists.
Gaines feels that Riley will excel in the Mercury's up-tempo system and has an attitude and competitiveness that will fit with the veteran-led Phoenix team. The Mercury will return a core of Diana Taurasi, Penny Taylor, Candice Dupree and DeWanna Bonner this May. Center Nakia Sanford is expected back as well along with the newly acquired Riley.
The move saves the Mercury an estimated $40-$50k heading into the WNBA free agency period that opens on January 15. This will give Gaines more flexibility to add depth and fill any other holes on his roster.