Mercury Season Preview Part III: 'Motivated'

By Ben York, PhoenixMercury.com
Posted: May 26, 2013

PhoenixMercury.com previews the 2013 season in a special three-part series. Part 1 discusses the team's excitement for the season, Part 2 centers around their expectations and Part 3 talks about the Mercury's relentless motivation.

“I hate losing,” said Brittney Griner recently. "I hate it. That's all the motivation I need."

People are motivated by countless different things.

For some, the prize or potential result at the end of the journey is enough. Others use events that happened in the past as a driving factor.

For the 2013 Phoenix Mercury, it’s a little bit of both.


Related: VIDEO: Preseason Special Part 1 | VIDEO: Preseason Special Part 2 | VIDEO: Preseason Special Part 3 | Tickets

“There’s a lot of underlying motivations that a player has,” said Diana Taurasi. “Some you don’t even realize that they are motivating you – whether it’s outside pressure, internal pressure or personally wanting to have a better year. As a team, we look at last year as something to build off of instead of the worst thing in the world.”

DeWanna Bonner, however, is ready to get the taste of the 2012 season out of her mouth.

“I’m ready for some revenge!” DeWanna Bonner joked. “A championship is always the ultimate goal. To lose games like we did last year burns you out mentally more than anything. To come back and have this type of team, your mentality switches.”

It’s easy to say you’re motivated, and another to act on it. In every sport, players reach a point where it’s no longer fun – bounces may go the other way, shots might not be falling and efforts become tedious. This is the exact moment that separates championship teams from the rest of the pack. These are the moments where – love it or hate it – players need to accept it’s a part of the gig. When things are going well, it’s easy to be motivated; it’s the hard times that make situations more difficult.

Fortunately, from the time players arrived for training camp, each has focused on doing the little things that lead to a successful and effective team on the floor for the extended grind of a WNBA season.

“Every single day, everyone’s brought energy and passion on the small things we are doing in drills,” added Taurasi. “That’s the type of will you need to win a five-game series on the road. Those are the things we are building towards.”

Of course, some experiences are so impactful that they become all the motivation one needs. Case in point: the Mercury‘s 7-27 record in 2012.

“I don’t want to go through what we went through last season,” Candice Dupree emphatically stated. “Our main goal is to keep everybody healthy. Everyone’s in really great shape and adding a 6-8 player never hurts. We have a good opportunity ahead of us.”

Motivation is one of the few things athletes have control over, and it is a direct correlation with the level of success they want to achieve. Sometimes, if a team is competing against an opponent with comparable skill, simply wanting it more can determine the outcome. Rather, a championship team is one who has put in the most work, who never stops believing and rises to the occasion when it truly matters.

In other words, the team who is most motivated to win.

“The thing that goes through my mind is to make sure when we are playing a game, we aren’t playing against the other team,” Corey Gaines said. “We are playing against ourselves.

“So if we take care of our own business, that’s all that matters.”

VIDEO: In part three of our three part preseason special, PhoenixMercury.com asks players and coaches what it is that drives them on a day-to-day basis.