May 20, 2012; Minneapolis, MN, USA: Phoenix Mercury guard Samantha Prahalis (99) goes up for a layup pst Minnesota Lynx forward Taj McWilliams-Franklin (8) in the first half at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-US PRESSWIRE
3 Total Updates since May 19, 2012
12 months ago Update 0 comments
Tulsa is about 100 miles east of Oklahoma City, which became the basketball center of the world after the Thunder routed the Lakers on Monday night. With a basketball hungry crowd athand in the sooner state the Mercury visit the Shock for their second game of the 2012 season.The season started with a disappointing loss for the Shock, but that was not really... well,a shock. Last year the team the finished 3-31 in just their second year in Tulsa. It was a disappointing season to say the least.
In four games last season against the Shock the Mercury won all four by a margin of 21 points per game. It was not close. This season they are down one star in Penny Taylor and haveanother one that is dealing with a minor injury. Diana Taurasi is listed as day-to-day officiallywith a hip flexor, but could possibly play tonight after participating in practice during the trip to Minnesota.
Overall this team is more talented than the Shock, but they will have to contend with a familiarface.
For the Mercury the biggest challenge will be containing former point guard Temeka Johnson.The scoring point guard had a solid season in 2011 with the Mercury, but after last seasonJohnson became expendable and was dealt to the Shock. The Mercury immediately targetedpoint guard Samantha Prahalis in the 2012 WNBA Draft to replace Johnson.
The Mercury are trying to avoid an 0-2 start to the 2012 season with a road win in Tulsa Tuesday night.
If Taurasi is unavailable to play tonight look for the team to lean on Charde Houston for scoring.She got off to a hot start to the season with 24 points in the opener off of five made three-pointers. The team will need more from DeWanna Bonner and Candice Dupree as well in thisgame as they combined for just 35 points, and more importantly only 8 rebounds against theLynx.
Tip-off is at 5pm local time from the BOK Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Tune in to LiveAccess toroot on your Mighty Mercury from the couch or bar stool!
12 months ago Update 0 comments
It was fun early, but ended ugly as the Mercury lost to the reigning champs.
A lot of positives and learning will come of this game. Despite the lopsided score, the Mercury can come home with some moral victories. Sure, the 105-83 loss to the Lynx is probably not the way Coach Gaines envisioned his season starting, but he also didn't anticipate playing without star guard Diana Taurasi.
At a practice the day before the game Taurasi suffered a hip flexor that kept her out of the game. The team did not want to start the season allowing a minor injury to become a bigger injury risking the season.
Without Taurasi the Mercury sent out the starting line-up of Samantha Prahalis (rookie), Charde Houston, Candice Dupree, DeWanna Bonner, and Nakia Sanford. The group got out to an impressive start raining three's early with an even first quarter, 20-20.
A big part of the early surge was Houston and her shooting. She was on fire from three early scoring off of the catch every time she touched the ball. In the first quarter she went 3-5 from deep (5-11 for the game) as she finished just two points shy of her career high with 24 points for the game. Houston carried the load offensively, but seemed to be a bit of a black hole on offense. When she caught the ball -- in most cases -- the ball went up at the rim. It was effective for about 10 minutes until the Lynx took over the game.
Coach Gaines had to be pleased with the play of his rookie point guard. Prahalis was in control for most of the game amassing turnovers primarily because her teammates got her the ball in bad positions on the inbounds. The Mercury finished with 17 total turnovers as a team and most of those came after the Lynx scored and, they were inbounding the ball. Too many times the team passed the ball directly to the wrong jersey or putting the ball-handler in a double-team position.
Those turnovers compounded the issue helping the Lynx pile on the points getting up by 20+ points for most of the second half.
Aside from turnovers, rebounding was a low point for the Mercury. They were outrebounded by 12 for the game and that was the exact number of offensive rebounds by the Lynx. Even when the team was able to get a stop they would give up an offensive rebound and a score.
A lot of good came from this game in particular with Houston's shooting, Prahalis' overall play, and team shooting from three. Factor in the absence of Taurasi and this loss was a building block on the new look Mercury creating an identity and a rotation.
They hit the court next against the basement of the WNBA last year - the Tulsa Shock on Tuesday, May 20th at 5pm local time. The game can be seen via Live Access on Phoenix Mercury.com.
12 months ago Update 0 comments
It begins where it all ended last year. Full circle.
Let's be honest and fair about one thing; the Mercury were dominated by the Minnesota Lynx catapulting them to the WNBA Finals. Last year -- at U.S. Airways -- the Phoenix Mercury led at the half, but collapsed late sending the Minnesota Lynx to win the Championship. The season overall has to be seen as a success as the Mighty Mercury went to their third straight Conference Finals.
But, the bitter taste in the mouths of Diana Taurasi, DeWanna Bonner, Candice Dupree, Nakia Sanford, and Alexis Gray-Lawson is still there.
To get the 2012 season started on Sunday in Minnesota as the Champs raise their first banner is not only a chance at a little bit of redemption, but a motivator to start the year. The Lynx as a team are very similar to last year bringing back 9/11 players from the Championship. The Mercury are a rather new group only returning the five players mentioned above.
With Minnesota's elite perimeter trio of Lindsay Whalen, Maya Moore, and Seimone Augustus the learning curve for the young Phoenix guards will be though. In the last meeting the trio combined to score 55 points and dish out 10 assists against the likes of Temeka Johnson and Penny Taylor.
The Mercury combat that trio with Gray-Lawson, Taurasi, Bonner, and rookie Samantha Prahalis. It will be tough to match the perimeter talent that the Lynx offer out on the court.
The Lynx are as deep and talented as any team in the 16 year history of the WNBA. They attack in many different ways making this season opener a tough outing for the Mercury.
The match-up to watch will be in the paint with Taj McWilliams-Franklin against Candice Dupree. In the two game series last year McWilliams-Franklin dominated averaging 18 PPG 5 APG and 5 RPG as the team's starting center. Slowing her down will be key in the Mercury making this a game. It will be a team effort with Avery Warley, Zane Tamane, and Nakia Sanford.
The guards are going to get theirs. Whalen is the best point guard in the WNBA and a great decision-maker with the ball in her hands. Moore and Augustus are two of the best young scorers in the league and are going to put a lot of pressure on the young Mercury backcourt.
Then again the Mercury know more about the Lynx than the Lynx would prefer. With new additions in Charde Houston and Alexis Hornbuckle on hand the team has a firsthand account of the Lynx game plan, strategies, and potentially the recipe for victory. Those two can help Coach Corey Gaines and the team prepare for the first test of the season.
The opener is on National Television Sunday, May 20th, but is for the early risers with tip-off at 9:30am local time. It gives the league the National spotlight before the NBA takes over with the playoffs. Support your Mighty Mercury from the couch as they kick off the 2012 season!