10 Things Every Mercury Fan Needs to Know About the 2010 Season

By Ben York, PhoenixMercury.com
Posted: April 26, 2010

Hard to believe, but the 2010 WNBA season is just under three weeks away…

THREE WEEKS!

What does that mean for Mercury fans? Well, for starters, it means we are three weeks away from seeing the team defend their 2nd WNBA Championship. It means we are three weeks away from seeing the debut of Candice Dupree in a Mercury uniform. But, perhaps most important, we are three weeks away from joining your fellow X-Factor in the support of the Mercury players night after night.

Has a nice “ring” (pun intended) to it…

As with every team, there were multiple changes made during in the off-season. Some of these were better known than others. Because of this, I thought it might be helpful to catch every Mercury fan up with a quick list of what they need to know about the 2010 team as we head into the first day of training camp.

10. The West didn’t get any easier.
Between the Sparks, Silver Stars, Lynx, and Storm the Western Conference is as tough as it’s ever been. Even the Tulsa Shock, with Nolan Richardson at the helm, will certainly play extremely hard on a nightly basis. Still, there are few rosters in the entire league with the collective talent of the Mercury.

9. Cappie, Le’coe, and Mazz might be gone, but Candice Dupree could make the Merc even better.
It’s a new era for the Mercury and it should be embraced, not feared! Yes, the West got better. Yes, it will be difficult to repeat as champs. But the moves made in the off-season addressed areas that needed improvement and, in turn, made the Mercury a more potent team on offense and a more consistent team on defense. And yes, Candice Dupree is that good.

8. Welcome back, Penny and Meek. Hello, Tyra, Nyeshia, Lenae, and Ashley.
With a core of Diana Taurasi, Temeka Johnson, Penny Taylor, Candice Dupree, Tangela Smith, and DeWanna Bonner the Mercury have solidified themselves as one of the deepest teams in the league. New additions to the squad for training camp include rookies Tyra Grant and Nyeshia Stevenson, and returning players Lenae Williams and Ashley Paris.

7. Options, options, and more options.
With Candice Dupree now a member of the Merc, Corey Gaines and his staff have more options to score than they’ve ever had. Want to focus on the shooters along the perimeter since the Mercury has 5-7 legitimate players who can knock it down from beyond the arc? That’s fine; they’ll drop it down in the post to Dupree. After a couple post moves by Candice that amount to quick scores, the double team might come down on Dupree. That means a shooter is open along the perimeter and…well, you know the story.

6. Will their offense AND defense be better in 2010? Absolutely.
Although the immediate realization that the Mercury could be even better offensively than they were in 2009, the possibility that their defense could improve should be equally as exciting. Candice Dupree is known for her scoring prowess but what should be just as thrilling for Mercury fans is her defense and rebounding ability (2nd in the WNBA in total rebounds). Better defense leads to more rebounds, more rebounds lead to more fast-breaks, more fast-breaks lead to more points, more points lead to more wins…I could go on…

5. Ketia Swanier and Temeka Johnson’s off-seasons = dedication.
After finally having the opportunity to showcase her game in 2009, Ketia Swanier approached the off-season with a tenacious mindset. She hired a personal trainer to help her get quicker (not sure that’s possible), increase her stability, and become stronger at her core. These sessions would last 5-6 hours for 5-6 days a week. Temeka Johnson (who is having an amazing season overseas in France) has been a solid mentor to Ketia over the past year. Simply put, Meek and Ketia are motivated and dedicated to facilitate the Merc’s high-powered offense in 2010.

4. Nicole Ohlde, fully healthy, will breakout in 2010.
Even with a bum wrist and fractured foot, Ohlde still made a tangible impact on the floor with her presence in the paint and her rebounding ability. In Hungary, Ohlde is averaging about 13 points and 8 rebounds for the MiZo Pecs and getting rave reviews from coaches and teammates.

3. DeWanna Bonner isn’t a rookie.
Even though she didn’t play like a rook, DeWanna Bonner enters the season with familiarity and an increased confidence. She’ll receive more minutes in 2010 without a doubt. Bonner averaged 11 points and 6 rebounds in just 21 minutes per game in 2009; imagine what she could do in her 2nd season with 25-30 minutes each night!

2. 2009 weaknesses could be 2010’s strengths.
Rebounding and points in the paint; if you had to nit-pick these would be two areas the Merc would like to improve on in 2010. However, the addition of Candice Dupree provides an immediate rebounding boost along with her ability to effectively defend players of all sizes. As mentioned above, a healthy Nicole Ohlde and the always trusty Tangela Smith gives Corey Gaines multiple options to combat opposing teams with size and height.

1. We have Diana…
In case you haven’t heard, Diana Taurasi is in the midst of one of the most amazing streaks of any professional athlete: 2009 EuroLeague Player of the Year, 2009 EuroLeague Guard of the Year, 2009 EuroLeague Champions, 2009 WNBA scoring leader, 2009 WNBA All-Star, 2009 WNBA MVP, 2009 WNBA Champion, and 2009 WNBA Finals MVP. Oh, by the way, she is well on her way to repeating all of the above in the 2010 EuroLeague.

In short, the future is bright for the Mighty Mercury. See you on May 15th!