The Phoenix Mercury and basketball fans everywhere suffered a tough loss with news that star forward Penny Taylor tore the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in her left knee. Taylor was playing for her Turkish team Fenerbahce when the injury occurred on March 29.
Basketball Australia waited for additional tests before confirming the news in a press conference held in Taylor's home country.
Taylor will not only miss the upcoming 2012 WNBA season but will also be unavailable to play for Australia in the 2012 Olympics. This type of injury typically carries a six month recovery time.
Penny is an extremely versatile and talented player whose skill set, personality and basketball IQ have made her a perfect complement to Diana Taurasi in seven seasons with the Mercury. The duo led the team to pair of WNBA Championships (2007, 2009).
The Mercury do have depth at the wing positions but there's still going to be a void without Taylor on the squad.
Free agent signee forward Charde Houston will almost certainly now move into a larger role. Taylor's absence might also free up a spot for guard/forward DeWanna Bonner to move into the starting lineup for the first time after winning Sixth Woman of the Year Awards in each of her first three seasons as a pro.
Both are very good players with Houston providing a scoring punch and Bonner as one of the most versatile defenders in the league who can also shoot, slash and post up. But neither have the ability to handle the ball and run the offense like Taylor and it remains to be seen if they can match Penny's knack for stepping up in big games.
Taylor averaged 16.7 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 4.7 assists per game last season while shooting 51 percent from the field and 40 percent from three.
On a side note, I've had the fortune of watching and covering Steve Nash and Grant Hill for years now. Penny is easily on that level when it comes to toughness, all-around basketball skill, court awareness and intelligence. She's one of my top five players, male or female, to watch. She will be missed in Phoenix this summer.
The Phoenix Mercury open their 2012 season on May 20 against the defending champion Minnesota Lynx.
[Update by Seth Pollack, 04/10/12 5:08 PM MST ]
The Phoenix Mercury confirmed the news with a press release in which they stated:
"Anytime you lose a player of Penny's caliber, it is a significant blow to your roster," General Manager and Head Coach Corey Gaines said. "We will work diligently with her through her recovery and continue to move forward building our team. We still have a strong core returning in Diana, Candice and DeWanna, I'm excited about the additions we made in the offseason and I anticipate our young players filling bigger roles this season."