Pitchfork Press

Cronkite Summer Journalism Institute 2012

Mercury looks to push past injury

With two key players out with injuries, Diana Taurasi and Penny Taylor, Coach Corey Gaines has worked hard to give his team opportunities to improve and succeed, starting rookie Samantha Prahalis as point guard. Spectators at a practice this past Tuesday watched as Prahalis, DeWanna Bonner and Charde Houston worked their ends off to get the team where they need to be to take on the Minnesota Lynx this coming Friday.

The Lynx, currently ranked number one in the WNBA Western Conference, have an undefeated record of 9-0. The Mercury has already lost once to them earlier this season. Houston said, “They’re the best team statistically in the league right now. We just want to come out with a lot of energy, compete and do the things we’re good at.”

Coach Gaines confers with his staff.

Coach Gaines has been doing all he can to help the ladies go into the game this Friday fully prepared. He said, “We’ve gone over the offense and defense of the other team, the certain schemes they do, and then we practice it.” With Taurasi and Taylor out of the game indefinitely, the Mercury stand at an uneven match up against the Lynx. However, the ladies are preparing to the best of their abilities to face this challenge.

Prahalis has been thrown into the starting line up after Taurasi and Taylor’s injuries, taking on the challenge of point guard. Coach Gaines and teammate Houston agreed that Prahalis has adjusted well to the position she has been put into.

“She’s adjusting on the move,” Coach Gaines mentioned. “It’s only her sixth game coming up and I think she needs a little bit more time to learn the league.”

Houston spoke highly of Prahalis, saying, “Just coming out having to be a rookie starting point guard, not just a player starting, but at the point guard position where the team is literally in the palm of your hand. We go as Sammy goes.”

In order for the Mercury to push ahead of their opponent, the team needs to focus on shooting a high percentage of shots, box out to get rebounds, and “not make silly mistakes,” according to Coach Gaines. If the Mercury can minimize on these weaknesses and capitalize on their strengths, Bonner and Candice Dupree, a much-desired win can be in the cards for the team.

Ball handling and keeping turnovers to a minimum have also been two points of emphasis among the team.

Houston practices her shot during down time at Tuesday’s practice.

“You think about the things that causes you to turn the ball over the most and for us I think that’s over thinking,” Houston noted. “Whenever we just get into the flow of things and just play without thinking as much then we’re a great team.”

The Mercury are biting at the bit to bring back that team that brought in titles in the past. Houston said in closing, “[We] are just deciding on turning this team around and being the team that we know we can be…We just want to get out there and show that we are a better team.”

By Taylor Shaw

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