All things considered this has been a season of mixed emotions. Once Penny Taylor went down the expectations diminished a little bit, but then Diana Taurasi began missing games, and this season became about development, not wins and losses.
Coming into tonight's game the Phoenix Mercury had locked up the No. 2 position in the WNBA Draft Lottery and the Seattle Storm secured the No. 4 seed in the Western Conference Playoff picture. With the action on ESPN the season ended the right way against a rival on National Television where both teams could go out there and just play basketball.
The season series has been one sided this year as the Storm have taken three of four, but the one Mercury win was in the last meeting.
It was a close game for the most part in the first half as the Mercury were forcing turnovers and getting up-and-down the floor with ease. They forced 10 first quarter turnovers on their way to five point lead. Krystal Thomas put on an amazing show with a career-high 18 rebounds. Towards the end of the game she knew she was getting close to the franchise record (20) and was at times finger-tips away.
"I was told what I needed to go and get," said Thomas about falling short of the team record. "I was trying and trying, usually it is when you know and you try that you do not get it."
As the third quarter came to a close Tina Thompson nailed a rainbow three that seemed to be a back breaker for the team.
In the end the season came to an end with an unfortunate outcome as the Mercury (7-27) lost to the Storm (16-18) by a final of 71-57 to a standing ovation at home on ESPN. This concluded a rather tough and unfortunate season for the Mercury as they finished with only seven wins and a 20.6 winning percentage, both a franchise low.
"We were plugging in players out of position," said Coach Gaines after the game. "It gets you to learn some things, when I was younger a coach I had -- Pat Riley -- he had the guards play the bigs spot and the bigs to play the guards spot. These players got a chance to appreciate that, DB (Bonner) played the one this year she knows how it is to play the one and how to get everyone into the right spots, and how it is always the point guards fault. I think it's only a good thing. I know it was a bad year for us, but we did have some positives come out of it for us. "
Despite all of that the team remained up-beat, competitive, and most importantly hopeful of what this season means for seasons to come.
Balance took over for the team as DeWanna Bonner (13 points 3 rebounds) admittedly took a step back allowing her teammates Samantha Prahalis (7 points 6 assists) and Candice Dupree (10 points 3 rebounds) a chance to get into the offense.
"It was tough being the leader and having the target on your back every game," said Bonner about the year. "There is always someone doubling you, holding you, and doing whatever they can to stop you. More power to those three All-Stars (Taurasi, Taylor, Dupree) who play with a target on their back every game, that is tough."
It was that kind of a year for Bonner where she stepped her game up to an MVP level leading this team on and off the court. She elevated her game to be on the same level giving the Mercury four All-Stars. The meant a lot for those players that are not used to being starters or getting major minutes, like rookie point guard Prahalis.
"It was decent, not really good and not really bad somewhere in the middle" was Prahalis take on the season. "We had a lot of injuries. A lot of people helped me. Corey helped me and was patient with me. Hopefully getting thrown into the fire without a healthy squad will pay off next season."
It will be interesting to see how this team rebounds because the most important statistic of this season is what Head Coach Corey Gaines teams do after missing the playoffs. They win Championships.