Quick preview of the Phoenix Mercury's Training Camp, their needs, and the unique new pre-season concept being rolled out by the WNBA this year...
How fun was last season? Let me re-phrase that: How crazy was last season with a decent ending all things considered? It was a roller-coaster of coaching changes, roster adjustments, injuries, winning, and then in the end losing.
This season has the potential to be a special one as last year was the first half of The Avengers Story with this year promising to be the final battle. The Mercury might leave New York City Super Hero level wreckage in their path to a Championship.
Well, that was what was said last year too... By me.
No doubt the Mercury have star power. From Taurasi to Griner, Taylor to Bonner, and all the way to Dupree this is a team of stars.
There is no lack of talent on this team, but a "team" is who wins the Championship every year. That is obviously the Mercury's goal under new head coach Sandy Brondello meaning they need to add a little more substance to this group of obvious style. This team has a lot of style.
While The Avengers analogy is not overly creative or perfect, it fits this team. Every player mentioned above has had their own run as the Alpha on a team. Taylor is an Alpha, Taurasi has always been an Alpha, Bonner became an Alpha while those two were injured, Griner is a young Alpha, and Dupree has Alpha potential. Put all of them in a room together to ration shots and minutes and roles and egos and pride and their Alpha-ness and things become tricky.
That is where the need to add substance comes into play. Briana Gilbreath, Alexis Gray-Lawson, and Krystal Thomas provide some. They need more.
With the way WNBA Rosters are constructed each team is allocated ten spots for players with injury exemptions available, as every Mercury fan is aware of over the course of the past two years. The team is returning eight players from last season leaving two spots open to be filled.
Play-Making and forward/center depth are two of the teams main strengths leaving holes at guard, the need for specialist shooters, and more "glue" that makes a team a Champion.
2014 Pre-Season Training Camp Roster
Coaching Staff: Sandy Brondello (Head Coach), Julie Hairgrove (Assistant), Todd Troxel (Assistant), and Tamara Poole (Athletic Trainer)
(*On Roster Last Season)
Mistie Bass (8) -- 6-3 190 lbs. Forward
Tiffany Bias (23) -- 5-6 lbs. Guard
*DeWanna Bonner (24) -- 6-4 137 lbs. Guard/Forward
Hallie Christofferson (5) -- 6-3 lbs. Forward
*Candice Dupree (4) -- 6-2 172 lbs. Forward
*Briana Gilbreath (15) -- 6-0 150 lbs. Guard
*Alexis Gray-Lawson (21) -- 5-8 180 lbs. Guard
*Brittney Griner (42) -- 6-8 199 lbs. Center
Chelsea Hopkins (1) -- 5-8 lbs. Guard
Anete Jekabsone-Zogota (10) -- 5-9 167 lbs. Guard
Ewelina Kobryn (11) -- 6-4 210 lbs. Center
Maggie Lucas (33) -- 5-10lbs. Guard
Shay Murphy (14) 5-11 164 lbs. Guard
Erin Phillips (31) -- 5-8 165 lbs. Guard
April Sykes (48) -- 6-0 183 lbs. Guard/Forward
*Diana Taurasi (3) -- 6-0 183 lbs. Guard
*Penny Taylor (13) -- 6-1 165 lbs. Forward
*Krystal Thomas (34) -- 6-5 210 lbs. Center
2014 Orlando Pre-Season Tournament
Starting on May 9th, 2014 the Phoenix Mercury will make Orlando home as they are one of four teams; Minnesota Lynx, Indiana Fever, and Chicago Sky, that will play in a pre-season tournament. It will be a four game tournament played at the HP Field House at ESPN's Wide World of Sports Complex at Disney World.
The teams will practice and make the event home for a four game tournament with some bragging rights going into the season and a chance to motivate nearly 1,500 AAU girls from the ages of 7-18 at the event.
"We are excited to be partnering with an organization like the WNBA," said AAU President & CEO Henry Forrest. "We are looking forward to a great event as well as a continued long term relationship."
The Chicago Sky will face the Indiana Fever in the Eastern Conference portion first followed by a Western Conference collision between the Phoenix Mercury and the Minnesota Lynx. The winners will play each other for the "Championship" on May 11th as will the others in a consolation prize game.
The league's best and brightest stars will be on display.