Cronkite Summer Journalism Institute 2012
The Phoenix Mercury is an organization accustomed to success. With WNBA championships in 2007 and 2009 and conference finals appearances in four out of the last five seasons, the team is known as one of the mainstays of women’s professional basketball. However, this spring has proven to be more of a challenge.
Problems began to arise with a season-ending injury to forward Penny Taylor. The Australian superstar damaged her knee in a pre-season practice and is out for both the WNBA season and the Olympics. More recently, perennial All-Star Diana Taurasi hurt her hip and is out indefinitely.
This rash of injuries has led to a slow start to the season, as the team has stumbled to a 2-5 record. However, not all is negative for the Mercury. Coach Corey Gaines has seen the team through some high and low times over the years, and he is confident that the team will be able to adjust. After guiding a recent practice, he asserted, “We’ll get better as the season goes on.”
Coach Gaines can be sure of this due to the support of the Mercury organization and the Phoenix community. He called his team “a family, a family organization… It’s really good to have a group of players who really appreciate and love the game.” New addition Charde Houston is very thankful for the support of Mercury loyalists, saying “I do owe it to the fans.”
Gaines is glad that the WNBA is taking a month-long break in the middle of the season for the Summer Olympics. He calls it a great opportunity to “really give the players some rest.” Seventeen games of the regular season are played before the break, and the same number afterwards. The Mercury hope to use the month to retool and return to their familiar role as a force in the Western Conference.
-Article by Caleb Peckham/ Slideshow by Sam Incorvaia/ Video by Max Benning