Mercury Season Preview Part II: 'Expectations'

By Ben York,
Posted: May 25, 2013 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 don’t read the paper,” Corey Gaines said. “I know a lot of coaches say that, but I really don’t. I don’t follow all of the stuff that people say about us. I mean, sometimes it is hard to avoid the hype, but my job is to get this team ready to play every night. I don’t have time for that other stuff.”

The Mercury isn’t concerned with the lofty expectations that have been placed on them this year. In a season that can already be labeled as incredibly high-profile, expectations are something the team has absolutely no control of.

Related: VIDEO: Preseason Special Part 1 | VIDEO: Preseason Special Part 2 | VIDEO: Preseason Special Part 3 | Tickets
“It’s kind of funny,” said Penny Taylor. “We know that a lot is being said, but I don’t think any of us pay attention to it. We’re all just really focused on getting better as a team. I know how cliché that sounds, but that’s really where our mindset is at. And, to be honest, I think we’re doing a good job of that.”

On paper, as we’ve said before, the Mercury is as good a team as any in the WNBA. But again, that means absolutely nothing until they prove it on the basketball court.

As a team, the Mercury isn’t looking to be perfect; there are no perfect seasons, just perfect moments. Indeed, the Mercury hopes those moments make everything else – all the blood, sweat and tears – worthwhile.

“We expect to work hard,” Brittney Griner said about the team’s expectations. “We expect to get better every day we are in the gym together. Other than that, it doesn’t matter what is said about us. They could say we’re the greatest team or the worst. What we are focusing on is ourselves. That’s the only thing we can control.”

If you look at the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFL or the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA – teams who have been dubbed champs before ever taking the floor – the hype certainly doesn’t always work in your favor.

“I think it comes down to chemistry,” Corey Gaines said when asked why exceedingly talented teams sometimes fail to meet expectations. “Maybe they just don’t get along on or off the court; one of the two is going to throw you off. But we have a veteran team who has won championships before. Sometimes teams just don’t jell.”

After watching the Mercury in practice for the past month, it’s clear how deliberate they are in terms of staying true to themselves.

Rather, they consciously choose what information they let in.

Similar to goal-setting, high expectations can have a positive effect on a team. But it can also have a far-reaching negative impact. At times, it’s easy to slip into criticizing and blaming others when things aren’t going according to plan.

The Mercury, on the other hand, is looking to avoid the same disappointment the Eagles and Lakers faced.

“Sometimes you lose focus,” Diana Taurasi added. “Sometimes you’re just not a good team. Basketball is about five people who can work together to complete a play, to get a defensive rotation down. It doesn’t matter how many individuals you have if you can’t put it together.

“We’re trying to be a team that does the little things to help us eventually get to where we want to be.”

VIDEO: asks players and coaches how they plan on dealing with the high expectations that have been placed upon this year's team.