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Mercury Reaction To Pondexter Flagrant Foul, Suspensions Possible

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Cappie Pondexter seems to want this story to go away, but when three of the league's biggest stars have an altercation like this and there are suspensions on the line that could impact teams' playoff chances, it would be irresponsible to ignore it.

In fact, the WBNA community should be upset that a story this big isn't attracting more attention. If this involved NBA stars, it would be the only story being discussed.

Phoenix Mercury coach Corey Gaines certainly would have liked more witnesses and also sees it as a positive for his team, "It should have been a TV game. The emotions, the drama. Definitely the fans would have liked that on WNBA TV; too bad it wasn't. I'm sure they tweeted about it. Facebooked about it. I'm sure it got out. The WNBA is a tight knit group, so probably the word got out.

"But it was something that we probably needed. It is something that will probably get us going the right way. Not the win, just the emotion and the way the game was being played. Sometimes you need that."

Gaines said he watched the tape of the incident numerous times and felt it was a hard foul, but wouldn't speculate on intent.

"You never know what's inside someone's mind ... Cappie's an aggressive player, she plays hard," he said. "If you can't read minds -- which I don't think anybody can -- you can just say 'Hey, she goes hard.' So you've got to give a person the benefit of the doubt. You never know."

Penny Taylor said she hadn't heard from Cappie since the incident on Saturday and said there was some normal bumping and contact earlier in the game, but nothing stood out as having precipitated the hit, "I do play hard. If that's reason for it, I don't know, but I guess you'ld have to speak to Cappie about that."

Unfortunately, Cappie is not taking questions. A team spokesperson denied an interview request, stating only that she's focused on her next game. The Liberty's next scheduled game is Tuesday in Seattle, but she may not get a chance to play in it.

Renee Brown, chief of basketball operations for the WNBA, is expected to review the incident, according to a league spokesperson. Suspensions are possible for Pondexter, as well as for Taylor for her reaction and for Ketia Swanier for leaving the Mercury bench during the altercation.

"From what I could see on the video... not really going for the ball, got more of my head," Taylor said. "For whatever reason, I'm not sure but definitely it was a hard foul and I think the refs having seen it themselves made that decision, also."

As for her reaction, in which she jumped up and charged at her former teammate, "You're in the middle of a game and your emotions are high and you react that way when someone hits you; I think most people would."

Diana Taurasi commented on the foul saying, "If you watch it, it's pretty self-explanatory all the way through."

Taurasi didn't want to speculate about what led up to the incident, saying we should ask Cappie. She said that Cappie hadn't explained the foul to her, adding, "We chatted a little bit. It's over and gone."

"Stuff happens," Taurasi said. "If we were not to like every person we got into it with on the court, I don't think I'd have one friend in the world."

As for the elbow from Cappie when she was running to help Taylor up, Taurasi said, "It's pretty silly, you know, but it doesn't surprise me. I'm not surprised."

She used the same grin she uses when talking about how great the officials were after a particularly contentious game, hinting at a deeper back story.

Gaines also opened that door right after the altercation saying, "Now the truth comes out. Everyone can see."

Asked today about that comment, Gaines clarified that he was addressing criticism leveled at he and the Mercury for trading Cappie Pondexter.

"We didn't trade Cappie," Gaines stated. "I don't know how people don't understand ... we didn't trade Cappie. If I would have traded Cappie, I think I would have been fired instantly. What fool would do that? We didn't trade Cappie. Cappie didn't want to play with us anymore."

Gaines felt that message hadn't gotten out to fans and media outside of Phoenix and that somehow this incident helped to clarify that it was her decision to leave.

"I think they will see now that we didn't get rid of Cappie," he said. "Cappie wanted to go somewhere else. That's what I was trying to say in that statement."

Gaines hadn't yet heard from the league regarding his players that left the bench. He mentioned DeWanna Bonner, who Gaines said stepped on the line, and Ketia Swanier, who he thought was just moving to help Penny Taylor.

The replay shows Bonner may have barely stepped over the line, but that Swanier accelerated a towards the fracas itself, getting about halfway across the court before catching herself. She never got near any Liberty players involved. Swanier didn't want to discuss the incident after today's practice.

Gaines also correctly pointed out that the Liberty bench isn't in the camera view, implying that it would be unfair to punish his players without having the ability to also see if any New York players reacted.

The league wouldn't comment on when any suspension decisions would be made.