Record: 15-13 (5-2)

Place In Standings: Third (+1.0 on Seattle)

Points Per Game: 80.8 (77.4)

Points Against: 81.5 (72.0)

******************************

Shoutout to Connecticut Sun head coach Anne Donovan for inspiring the title to this Mercury Meter. Midway through the victory over the Sun one of the officials, for lack of a better way to describe this, drifted off into a dream world and was not mentally present for an obvious, physical foul. It happened right in front of me, Coach Donovan, and the ref. This prompted an angry, borderline rage filled tongue lashing where the ref could only respond with a despondent "..." and walk away.

That occurrence was so awkward I am still processing it today. I have never seen someone with authority do something so blatantly wrong, get verbally attacked, and then just wipe the crust off their eyes to walk away. What was she to do?

This team has a target on its back and rightfully so... we have good players. -Coach Pennell

I digress.

The Mercury have had trouble with teams under .500 allowing them to hang around in games this season. Whether it is with a slow start or a stalled finish teams like Connecticut, Tulsa, Washington, Indiana, New York, and San Antonio all have had chances to knock off the Mercury in close games. It also does not help that they are 3-11 against teams currently above .500 in the standings. What exactly is this team missing?

"Everyone has good players in the pros and records can be deceiving," stated Coach Russ Pennell on the struggles against teams low in the standings.

******************************

Lack of a Killer Instinct...?

A killer instinct. That is what this team is missing. Despite having a killer with the ball in her hands in Diana Taurasi the Mercury seem to lack an identity closing out games.

Sometimes Taurasi is enough on her own as a lethal scorer and distributor down the stretch, but in some instances, like last night, she is not as effective, aggressive, or simply enough by herself. She has DeWanna Bonner, Candice Dupree, and Brittney Griner as quality counter-options, but none of them seem to have that killer instinct.

"No I don't think so at all," said Bonner after the game. "Phoenix is a team that everyone wants to beat right now even though we are close to last place in the playoffs we still have the target on our backs. We are a great team and we have a lot of weapons so you are going to get the best game from every team every night. We just have to bring it."

Words can be easier than actions and in this case it is easier to say that the team does not lack a killer instinct. On the other hand when you have the 5th all-time leading scorer in WNBA history, last years No. 2 scorer, and the most physically gifted player in the history of the league getting in shootouts with teams at the bottom of the standings indicates otherwise.

At this point in the season I think it is more mental. -Candice Dupree

Whether it is Taurasi, Bonner, Griner, or a combination of the three the team needs someone to step-up their game late to put the boot on teams and close them out. There are no style points in winning basketball games, but the reason teams like the Lynx and Sky are feared is because they have Maya Moore and Elena Delle Donne that close out games late.

The Mercury have the parts, but still have yet to find a way to put them together allowing this to be the team that was once touted as a Super Team. They have six games to gear up before the playoffs...

******************************

...and a Playoff Update.

Minnesota Lynx: Clinched (five games remaining)

Los Angeles Sparks: Clinched (five games remaining)

Phoenix Mercury: Magic Number Is One (six games remaining)

Seattle Storm: Clinched (four games remaining)

On Friday the Mercury can clinch a playoff berth against the San Antonio Silver Stars. They will be well rested and should be well prepared after being at home for 17 consecutive days playing only two total games in that time span. They have been in their own beds with plenty of time to rest, practice, and focus on getting better each day leading to the playoffs.

"It is tough," said Dupree about the long gaps between games. "We try and go against the practice players, get the guys out there and run us up-and-down the court a little bit. At this point in the season I think it is more mental. You have to go into games ready to play. We don't have a lot of practice time left, after this week, it is done for us."

This season the Mercury are 2-1 against the Silver Stars and with a win they can exhale. They can breath a sigh of relief as the they will be in the playoffs.

But just making the playoffs is the first goal along the way to winning a championship which was the goal when this collection of talent first assembled months ago. This has not been an ideal year for the team that made a major coaching change, has fought and clawed for every win, and battled injuries to simply remain in the hunt. Making the playoffs and making noise in the playoffs are two very different things; can the Mercury gather themselves to make some noise in September when it matters?

******************************

Upcoming Schedule:

Friday vs. San Antonio Silver Stars at 7 p.m. AZ Time

More from Bright Side Of The Sun:

Check out the whole season preview for the 2013-14 season

The Phoenix Suns definitely have a lot to watch for this season. I previewed the Suns for sheridanhoops.com - you can see the entire post here.

2013-14 Preview in 1000 words

I'd love to think you will click through to the article, but I'm not THAT optimistic by nature. Here's a piece of it:

There is duplication at every position with similar middling talent. After McDonough said prior to the draft that it is hard to develop two rookies who play the same position, he nonetheless has several positions on the floor with at least two very young guys trying to beat each other out.

Something has to be done to reduce the logjam at some of these positions, or everyone's development will get stunted. Ideally, the Suns would execute a many-to-one trade before the season begins, sending out two or three young guys for one with a higher ceiling. Each season, one or two teams trade their extension-eligible fourth-year players before committing big money to them.

The Suns have already acquired Bledsoe from the 2010 draft in such fashion. Could they acquire another good 2010 player by Halloween to pair with Bledsoe?

The theme of this year's preview is a wait-and-see attitude. We all get to wait and see what's next.

Here's my guess, in order:

  1. Release Michael Beasley
  2. Announce the (safe and slow) return of Channing Frye
  3. Make a small trade by Halloween to send out 3 players/picks for someone else's 1 player, just to clear the logjam if nothing else
  4. Experience a bout of unbridled optimism as the season begins ("This team is BETTER than last year!")
  5. Watch the youngsters lose a lot of games
  6. Trade Gortat and/or Frye to playoff teams by the trade deadline
  7. Draft Andrew Wiggins #1 overall

2013-14 Preview - True BSotS Style

That preview on Sheridanhoops.com is just the trailer for the feature film about to be produced by BSotS in the coming two months. No one does season previews like BSotS does season previews. And this year we're stepping it up another notch. Watch for it. It's coming.

Preseason is only a month away! Regular season only two months away!

Walk down Memory Lane

Optimism will begin to ride higher and higher as the weeks go by, at least until mid-November. In the immortal words of George Zimmerman, "I guarantee it."

Check out last year's preview for sheridanhoops.com, where I listed ""Five Reasons for Optimism". That preview was written after a few preseason games had already been played (last October), and I was already more invested in the team than I probably should have been.

We have seen in preseason that the starting unit of [Goran] Dragic, [Luis] Scola, [Marcin] Gortat, [Michael] Beasley and Jared Dudley can really play well together, grabbing strong leads in each game.

No orange-colored glasses here, right? There was a lot of quiet optimism around the Suns front office last season with a starting lineup that appeared to have a chance to play competitively all year. Some of that optimism was shared by fans as well. If Beasley had come around...

If the season goes well, they spend the picks and money on players to supplement a core of Dragic, Scola, Dudley, young power forward Markieff Morris and maybe even Beasley, who has impressed the team with his all-around game and willingness to do whatever is asked, including defend and rebound.

LOL

At least I summed it up nicely in the final section:

If it doesn't go well, they still have the money, higher picks and they can jettison the entire front office and coaching staff - all on the last year of their contracts - for yet another fresh start.

This season is a transition year, but one that Suns fans knew was a long time coming.

Just for grins, check out the comment section of that Bright Side post to see what you were saying a year ago. MMotherwell was quite the visionary.

The Phoenix Suns definitely have a lot to watch for this season. I previewed the Suns for sheridanhoops.com - you can see the entire post here.

2013-14 Preview in 1000 words

I'd love to think you will click through to the article, but I'm not THAT optimistic by nature. Here's a piece of it:

There is duplication at every position with similar middling talent. After McDonough said prior to the draft that it is hard to develop two rookies who play the same position, he nonetheless has several positions on the floor with at least two very young guys trying to beat each other out.

Something has to be done to reduce the logjam at some of these positions, or everyone's development will get stunted. Ideally, the Suns would execute a many-to-one trade before the season begins, sending out two or three young guys for one with a higher ceiling. Each season, one or two teams trade their extension-eligible fourth-year players before committing big money to them.

The Suns have already acquired Bledsoe from the 2010 draft in such fashion. Could they acquire another good 2010 player by Halloween to pair with Bledsoe?

The theme of this year's preview is a wait-and-see attitude. We all get to wait and see what's next.

Here's my guess, in order:

  1. Release Michael Beasley
  2. Announce the (safe and slow) return of Channing Frye
  3. Make a small trade by Halloween to send out 3 players/picks for someone else's 1 player, just to clear the logjam if nothing else
  4. Experience a bout of unbridled optimism as the season begins ("This team is BETTER than last year!")
  5. Watch the youngsters lose a lot of games
  6. Trade Gortat and/or Frye to playoff teams by the trade deadline
  7. Draft Andrew Wiggins #1 overall

2013-14 Preview - True BSotS Style

That preview on Sheridanhoops.com is just the trailer for the feature film about to be produced by BSotS in the coming two months. No one does season previews like BSotS does season previews. And this year we're stepping it up another notch. Watch for it. It's coming.

Preseason is only a month away! Regular season only two months away!

Walk down Memory Lane

Optimism will begin to ride higher and higher as the weeks go by, at least until mid-November. In the immortal words of George Zimmerman, "I guarantee it."

Check out last year's preview for sheridanhoops.com, where I listed ""Five Reasons for Optimism". That preview was written after a few preseason games had already been played (last October), and I was already more invested in the team than I probably should have been.

We have seen in preseason that the starting unit of [Goran] Dragic, [Luis] Scola, [Marcin] Gortat, [Michael] Beasley and Jared Dudley can really play well together, grabbing strong leads in each game.

No orange-colored glasses here, right? There was a lot of quiet optimism around the Suns front office last season with a starting lineup that appeared to have a chance to play competitively all year. Some of that optimism was shared by fans as well. If Beasley had come around...

If the season goes well, they spend the picks and money on players to supplement a core of Dragic, Scola, Dudley, young power forward Markieff Morris and maybe even Beasley, who has impressed the team with his all-around game and willingness to do whatever is asked, including defend and rebound.

LOL

At least I summed it up nicely in the final section:

If it doesn't go well, they still have the money, higher picks and they can jettison the entire front office and coaching staff - all on the last year of their contracts - for yet another fresh start.

This season is a transition year, but one that Suns fans knew was a long time coming.

Just for grins, check out the comment section of that Bright Side post to see what you were saying a year ago. MMotherwell was quite the visionary.

More from Bright Side Of The Sun:

Poll
Let's check the optimism meter, in true "Bright Side" fashion

  204 votes | Results

While there's no doubt that 19 year old Archie Goodwin is currently one of the brightest beacon's of hope for the future of the Phoenix Suns franchise, it's also possible that he could be the primary source of frustration and disappointment for many fans next season who are too eager to see immediate results.

Goodwin gave fans plenty of reasons to be excited about his arrival during Summer League, where he was consistently aggressive and at times appeared almost unstoppable.

In addition to demonstrating a knack for attacking the basket and drawing fouls, which he was known for in college, he also showcased what appeared to be an improved and much more reliable jump shot from beyond the arc, shooting an impressive 57%, which was an area of his game he struggled with as a freshman at Kentucky.

His play for the Suns in the Summer League was a breath of fresh air for a fanbase who has been searching for a light at the end of a very dark tunnel.

But is Goodwin really ready for prime time?

Perhaps we should take it from the guy who drafted him, general manager Ryan McDonough, who said himself that he believed Goodwin would have been a top 10 pick in 2014 if he had stayed in school another year.

Clearly McDonough saw Archie Goodwin as more of an investment for the future, rather than a "win now" type of player who was ready to make an immediate impact for the Suns.

Conventional wisdom would certainly agree with his assessment, as Goodwin struggled to find his niche at the University of Kentucky last season and looked like anything but a finished product. There was no question about his talent or his potential, but Goodwin struggled to find any consistency and it looked as if the game was just too big for him at times.

Here is a look at his stats from his freshman season at UK:


FG 3PT FT Rebounds Misc
G M M A Pct M A Pct M A Pct Off Def Tot Ast TO Stl Blk PF PPG
2012 - Archie Goodwin 33 31.8 4.8 10.8 44.0 0.5 1.9 26.6 4.1 6.4 63.7 1.5 3.2 4.6 2.7 3.1 1.1 0.5 2.9 14.1

The biggest positive you can take from these stats is that his aggressive style of play that fans loved about him in summer league was also his trademark in college. Averaging 6.4 free throw attempts per game is very impressive for a guard (and was the highest in the NCAA at any position last season).

However, his 63.7% shooting from the stripe is another story. Add to that his 44% shooting from the field overall, and dismal 26.6% from beyond the arc, and you can start to see why Goodwin hurt his draft stock last season after initially being ranked one of the top prospects coming out of high school.

Goodwin's struggles were further exacerbated when asked to play the point guard position, where the Wildcats were searching for anyone to step up and take the reigns. Although by all accounts, Goodwin is a more natural two-guard, he tried his best at running the point for Kentucky with less than stellar results, as evident from his negative assist to turnover ratio.

Still, there's no question what Archie Goodwin can do...attack, score, and defend. He is super athletic, has a high motor, and plays with energy and effort on both sides of the court.

Since head coach Jeff Hornacek stated that he plans for Goodwin to make an immediate impact this season, this is what I believe the Suns will use to their advantage right off the bat from him. Despite what looked to be an improved jump shot in Summer League, I wouldn't count on him suddenly becoming a three point specialist for the Suns overnight, nor would I hold my breath that the Suns will actually make good on their original plans to make him into a point guard (at least I hope not).

Archie was still learning to play the game at the college level last season, so Suns' fans may do well to temper their expectations for him this year. Goodwin will have to make a huge adjustment to the fast pace and level of talent in the NBA, and for a 19 year old kid who is still so young in not only his age, but in his development as a basketball player, it may be unrealistic to expect much more than the minimum while treating anything else as just a bonus at this point.

I am extremely optimistic about Goodwin's future with the Suns, as I believe he has the potential to be one of the best players on the team in the near future. However, I wouldn't be surprised if this season is more about patience than production.

More from Bright Side Of The Sun:

Here's the whole enchilada of Suns podcasts with Kris and Jim during the 2012-13 season, through June 30, 2013.

Some of the topics discussed include the Suns woefully pathetic defense, rotations, personnel, scheme, coaching, organizational changes, (lack of) talent, over/under on a player going for 30, the TNT refund game and a look ahead into the coming week.

Like I mentioned, it's a pilot, so please have mercy on us me. It can only get better (or not). Special thanks to Kris for joining me in this undertaking.

I was also thinking about doing some artwork (even better than my current creation) for the standard tag image for the podcast posts and a name, so any suggestions would be more than welcome.

Enjoy.

Podcast #1 12/4/12

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