Jackson “Volunteers” For Dirty Work

By Steven Koek, PhoenixMercury.com
Posted: July 20, 2004

The Mercury added yet another former University of Tennessee star to their roster and this one has volunteered to help out with the team’s dirty work. Forward Gwen Jackson will make her Phoenix debut against her former team Wednesday afternoon (12 p.m. Arizona time) when the Mighty Merc look to get back in the win column against San Antonio.

Jackson, acquired from the Silver Stars in a trade this week, is excited to be in the Valley and join fellow Tennessee products Ashley Robinson, Nikki McCray and assistant coach Lisa Harrison.

“I played with Ashley for three years,” said the two-time Naismith Player of the Year finalist. “I knew Nikki and Lisa, too. I’ve known all of them, so I feel like I’m at home, even though I’m away from what had been my comfort zone.

“It’s a different environment. I’d been in San Antonio for a year and half, and coming to something new you’re always a little jittery, but after I get the jitters out, it will sink in and I’ll be ready to go get down to business.”

The sixth overall pick in the 2003 WNBA Draft is being looked at to provide some post experience and energy to a team looking to rebound from a season-long five-game losing streak.

“Gwen’s experience playing in a great program will be a tremendous advantage,” Harrison said. “She will provide a lot of strength inside. She’s somebody that really wants to rebound and is going to be able to hit the outside shot, as well. It’s going to open up our post play so we can stretch the defense out.”

Jackson’s presence also brings a familiar face to the locker room for Robinson, who is still adjusting to the league in her first season as a pro.

“I’m really excited,” Robinson beamed. “It’s just good to have her here. I know how she plays and I know what she’s going to give, so I think we did a really good job in getting her and I think she’s going to help the team out a lot. It’s always fun to play with your old teammates, especially when they’re the ones who give heart and work hard every day.

“She does the dirty work, a lot of rebounding, leadership, scoring and an all-around post player. She’s just going to give a lot of heart. For three years I saw her give it her all every day and she’s a good person.”

Jackson will be called upon to provide an inside presence the club has lacked all season and is more than happy to do it.

“I’m going to give 100 percent,” she said. “I’m going to work hard. That doesn’t mean I’m going to go out every game and get a double-double, but I’m going to go out and play my game. Rebounding, defense, getting the team going and keeping people motivated when they’re down. That’s something that I’m known to do.”

Looking at the trade as a deal that helps both teams, Jackson is actually looking forward to playing her former San Antonio mates tomorrow in her first game with the Mercury.

“It’s going top be exciting for them and it’s exciting for me,” she said. “They got what they needed and obviously Phoenix got what they needed. So, it’s going to be good for both teams and hopefully everybody’s happy.”

The Mercury meets the Silver Stars in a special afternoon game on Wednesday. Tickets may be purchased online, by phone at 602-252-WNBA or by visiting the America West Arena Ticket Office. Mercury season tickets, group tickets and flex packages are also available and can be purchased by calling 602-379-7878 or click here for more information.