PHOENIX, AZ - JULY 01: Alexis Gray-Lawson #21 of the Phoenix Mercury during the WNBA game against the Chicago Sky at US Airways Center on July 1, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Mercury defeated the Sky 97-84. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Three More Roster Cuts As The Season Is Just Six Days Away

The Phoenix Mercury won their one and only preseason game. The exhibition against Japan gave fans, media and the coaching staff to get a look at some young players in a live game situation.

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Mercury Cut Three More In Johnson, Reed, And Simon

Just 12 hours after a scrimmage and 6 days before the season opener Corey Gaines and the Phoenix Mercury made a few more roster cuts. The team has let go Amanda Johnson (2012 No. 33 pick), forward Chastity Reed, and local point guard product Dymond Simon out of Arizona State.

These moves are not the last as the team needs to cut the roster down to 11 total players by May 17th in preparation for the season opener against the Minnesota Lynx.

Johnson and Simon were not full participants in Training Camp, did not play in the exhibition against the Japanese National Team, and were reaches to make the roster. As profiled on draft day Johnson is an elite shooting center that Coach Gaines thought would be a perfect fit in fast breaks as the trailer shooting threes. Then there was Simon who was a part of an overhaul at point guard that now features three options in rookie Samantha Prahalis and newcomers Alexis Hornbuckle and Andrea Riley.

Reed was an interesting cut as she looked good in the scrimmage as a mid-range shooting forward. She plays with a lot of energy and passion. Unfortunately she played a position that was not of major need and was let go because of that.

This is what the roster looks like as of right now:

PG - Andrea Riley

PG - Alexis Hornbuckle

PG - Samantha Prahalis

SG - Diana Taurasi

SG - Alexis Gray-Lawson

F - DeWanna Bonner

F - Candice Dupree

F - Charde Houston

F - Penny Taylor (Injured, out for the year)

C - Nakia Sanford

C - Krystal Thomas

C - Avery Warley

C - Zane Tamane

Of the 13 players left only Taurasi, Taylor, Dupree, and Sanford have more than four years experience in the WNBA. The youth movement has begun and the future of the team could be in the players that make the roster this season.

Two more cuts are coming soon and they will likely come from the center pool that currently has four player. As the Mercury host Media Day on May 16th more information on roster moves is surely to come out.


Mercury Oust Japan 100-73 In Exhibition

The game was over after the first quarter due to the Alexis Gray-Lawson Show. From the opening tip the Mercury had a clear physical advantage over the Japanese National Team. After the first quarter the score was 34-16 Mercury and they never looked back.

Gray-Lawson was the whole show for the Mercury as they took the friendly exhibition pre-season game over Japan 100-73.

Playing off of the two headed point guard attack of Samantha Prahalis and Andrea Riley points came to Gray-Lawson through the flow of the offense. She had a monster game shooting the ball with 34 points total. The offense flowed through her as she played 34 of the 36 total game minutes.

On defense she was a sparkplug getting back to force turnovers and get the ball back for the Mercury who could not be stopped all night. As Corey Gaines joked after the game, "I know it was the Japanese National Team, but we should have scored 160 tonight." It was that kind of game for Gray-Lawson and her teammates.

Acquired via trade, another player expected to step up in the absence of injured star Penny Taylor is Charde Houston. The forward got off to a hot start scoring two early baskets on long jump shots. She was playing with a lot of confidence calling for the ball nearly every play early in the game. Last season she had a down year statistically on a deep Minnesota team that won the WNBA Championship. This season she has the potential to breakout again.

Houston played with good poise in this exhibition taking advantage of mismatches to score 14 points on the night.

The Battle For The Paint

There were a few storylines coming into tonight's game including how were the Mercury going to assemble their rotation in the paint. A few players are vying for the chance at major minutes including Krystal Thomas.

Thomas did not see a lot of game action, but made her presence felt on the glass. She corralled eight rebounds in her time out there and was imposing in the paint. One aspect that was lacking from Thomas was finishing strong on defense. She was able to lead the defense calling out assignments and making sure her teammates were in position, but often times that distracted her from covering the basket allowing easy scores.

The same can be said for Nakia Sanford and Avery Warley who combined for 19 rebounds and only 1 blocked shot. Throughout the game the interior defense was not up to par and Coach Gaines acknowledged that after the game, "it was tough because the Japanese National team is really small, they are not big. They are more threes (rather than fours and fives) out there."

Chastity Reed - another new acquisition - played really well off the bench. She brought energy and toughness to the team as well as a solid outside jump shot. She is a bit smaller than the others, but she plays with great passion on the court. Zane Tamane was clearly the biggest player on the court for either team. She made an immediate impact with rebounding and a long frame in the paint. She had a few turnovers due to losing her footing and balance out there.

Overall the bigs tonight played well in a few aspects, but have a long way to go to being a Championship frontline.

Point Guard Duel

The point guards on this team are night and day, which is an abundance of riches for Coach Gaines. Riley got the start for the team and was a scoring threat all night. She was able to get into the paint and make shots to keep the defense off balance. She finished with 6 assists as well to go with her 10 points.

She is still working on being a passing point guard as she attempted a few passes where her teammates clearly thought she was taking the shot. On two separate occasions the ball went off a teammate for a turnover, one of them right off the head and out of bounds.

The rookie sensation Prahalis did not disappoint, but was noticeably nervous in the games first few minutes as she seemed to have a bounce in her step when running the offense. "It was a little bit of both. I was excited, I had a few nerves, nothing crazy, but excited to play" was how the rookie described the early jitters.

After the game she assessed her performance as, "could do a lot better. It was alright, but everyone played well so it was cool."

That about summed up the game, everyone had a good game, but it could have been a lot better. After tonight where Coach Gaines played a tighter nine man rotation he has some decisions to make to trim the roster down to 10.

Most of those who didn't play are the players close to a lock for the roster. Coach Gaines has a lot of decisions to make, and many of them are going to be very tough after a week of Training Camp and Tuesday nights game.


Mercury Trim Roster: Waive Ricketts And Flores

And then there were two.

After the 2012 WNBA Draft the Phoenix Mercury had three prospects ready to make an impact and join the team. The 24th Overall pick was used on Arkansas guard C'eira Ricketts and the 30th Overall pick went to forward Christine Flores out of Missouri. Then of course the No. 6 Overall pick went to Samantha Prahalis who now remains as the teams one of two rookies on the potential roster for the 2012 season along with forward Amanda Johnson out of Oregon who was drafted No. 33 Overall.

Throughout Training Camp both Ricketts and Flores were vying for a roster spot on the Mercury, that is until today when they were waived.

Each player was a long shot to make the roster in a draft that featured few WNBA caliber players after the first handful of picks. For Ricketts it was a losing battle from the start attempting to make the roster with Prahalis on deck as the future, Andrea Riley as the mainstay, and Alexis Gray-Lawson as the sparkplug.

The roster is now down to 16 active players with Diana Taurasi in Seattle prepping for the Olympics and Penny Taylor down with a knee injury. Head coach Corey Gaines is getting closer to his opening day roster.


Pre-Season Preview: Phoenix Mercury Host The Japanese National Team

Tonight the Mercury began the season with a pre-season exhibition game against the Japanese National Team. The Mercury are still in the process of narrowing down the roster and this is the type of challenge that will help head coach Corey Gaines make some important decisions regarding the team going forward.

As of today the team has 18 players listed on the roster with forward Penny Taylor inactive with an injured knee.

The team will break in their flashy rookie Samantha Prahalis - the No. 6 Overall Pick in 2012 - as she continues to adjust to the professional game. Prahalis is a very confident guard that referred to herself as a unique woman's player similar to Steve Nash, Chris Paul, and "old school" Jason Williams after she was selected. The local basketball crowd would be very excited if she cashed in on that Nash comparison she gave herself.

Her ability to create in the open court will allow star Diana Taurasi to play off the ball and score in many different ways. As profiled on draft day, Prahalis is a pass-first point guard with all the tools to be one of the better point guards in the WNBA. The team will be without Taurasi who will report sometime next week after her camp in Seattle. She has been preparing all May for the Olympics.

Playing this game without the teams' star player will allow the younger players to get more of an opportunity to show their game.

This is an important game for the Mercury in making roster decisions as they have to get the team down to 10 total players. That number may include Taylor who the team has not yet received a roster exemption for her knee injury. Over the course of the next week or so the team will have to say farewell to between 9-10 camp invites that have been giving it their all to make the team.

On the other side of the court is the Japanese National Team. They have been getting ready for the Olympics as well, but here in Phoenix. The team is vying for one of five open spots in the London Olympics to join Angola, Australia, Brazil, China, Great Britain, Russia, and Team USA. In 2008 the Japanese Women's Team did not make either Group A or Group B as one of the 12 teams playing in Beijing.

It is a very talented group with guard Yuko Oga and center Maki Takada. The biggest challenge will be bottling up the teams prolific scorer Oga. She is a good three-point shooter and proved to be a clutch performer after leading her team in 2010 during the FIBA World Championships for Women. During that tournament she led the team scoring at 19.1 PPG in an impressive individual showing.

Takada may be a measuring stick for the Mercury bigs trying to make the roster. She is not a flashy player in the paint or a dominant one, but she gets the job done game-in-and-game-out.

Japan finished 7th in the Atlanta Olympic Games and 10th in the Athens Olympic Games while never finishing better than 5th in the Olympics historically. The team is currently ranked No. 16 overall in the FIBA Women's Rankings as of today.

That makes this game a nice challenge for the Mercury tonight. Don't miss out as the team rolls out their newest player and potential star Samantha Prahalis and get the season started off right!


Phoenix Mercury Cut Brittney Thomas From Training Camp Roster

Today the Phoenix Mercury announced via press release that Brittney Thomas has been cut from the Training Camp roster. Thomas, a 5-11 guard from Michigan State, was vying for the opportunity to make the roster which has been trimmed down to 18 players as of today.

With forward Penny Taylor out for the season with a knee injury the Mercury are in need of play makers to compliment star guard-forward Diana Taurasi.

Thomas was a standout guard as a senior for Michigan State in 2010-2011. Last season she played in Sweden for Telge where she appeared in 33 games averaging 13.4 PPG and 3.9 APG. She would have been a great addition to the Mercury, if they had not used the No. 6 Overall pick on point guard Samantha Prahalis out of Ohio State.

Prahalis has been impressive in training camp showing a great handle and feel for the game. She will have some trouble adjusting to the level of strength at the WNBA level, but all positive out of camp so far.

As of today the team still has a lot of decisions to make to get the roster down to 10 players by mid May. The locks of course are Taurasi, Prahalis, and the trio of forwards Candice Dupree, DeWanna Bonner, and Charde Houston. That leaves five open roster spots for head coach Corey Gaines to fill with 12 candidates.

The depth of size most certainly has to be addressed.

Right not Avery Warley (6-3), Krystal Thomas (6-5), Zane Tamane (6-7), and Nakia Sanford (6-4) are the options at center on the roster. Tamane is the clearly the biggest giving the Mercury a legitimate post threat. Last season she played 26 games in Turkey for Fenerbahce averaging 8.5 PPG 5.1 RPG and 1.1 BPG. If she can step in and make an impact the Mercury will have the fourth tallest player in the WNBA behind Lindsay Taylor, Elizabeth Cambage, and Astan Dabo to protect the paint.

As camp continues the team is also preparing to battle the Japanese National Team on Tuesday night in a pre-season game starting at 7pm local time.


Phoenix Mercury Open Training Camp With Surprise Roster Adjustment

The Phoenix Mercury opened up their training camp with an interesting battle for the point guard position and a surprise change for one player.

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