Olympic Break Comes at Ideal Time

By Ben York, PhoenixMercury.com

Tired. Exhausted. Fatigued.

Pick an adjective and you’d be right.

Needless to say, the first half of the season has been anything but easy for the Mercury. They’ve dealt with more injuries than any team should have to face, are playing basically without their starting five, and players have had to step up in roles they certainly haven’t been familiar with.

But all the while, this team continues to play their collective hearts out.

No matter what the final score is, there’s no denying the Mercury’s powerful, sustained effort until the final buzzer sounds. The Mercury used its fourth different starting lineup of the season due to the injury of Charde Houston, who suffered a mild MCL strain in Tuesday’s game against Los Angeles. Phoenix has collectively missed 30 games due to injury this season, after missing just 20 in the past two seasons combined.

“We just have to keep playing hard and believing in each other,” said an eloquent Krystal Thomas.

With barely eight players available for tonight’s game, and Sammy Prahalis nursing a sprained ankle she sustained in the second quarter, the Mercury fell to the Storm 83-64.

Ultimately, another tough shooting night for Phoenix led to a deficit early. Phoenix was 23-69 from the floor for a total of 33 percent on the night. Coupled with 15 turnovers and a six-point third quarter, the Mercury was unable to crawl back into the game.

Heading into the Olympic break, the Mercury is now 4-15 and in fifth place in the Western Conference.

“I think we can make a lot of improvements,” Sammy Prahalis said after the game.

All in all, this break probably couldn’t have come at a better time for Phoenix. They’re tired. Banged up. Short-handed. They’ll use this time to heal both mentally and physically and be ready to go when the second half of the season starts back up in August.

Even though there obviously haven’t been as many victories as desired, this situation has provided a wealth of experience for the team’s rookies and new players. The chemistry is noticeably better since the beginning of the season, and they’ve been in a considerably amount of games only to end up falling in the final few minutes. For a team plagued with injuries and adversity, the effort and unity is definitely a positive takeaway.

“We’re going to do a lot of individual stuff,” Corey Gaines said when asked about his team’s plans for the Olympic break. “A lot of tape and film. There are some things we need to work on to try and get better. We’ll use every moment of it. We have a plan where we’ll do weights with half the team, the other half on the court and then we’ll switch. We have film sessions so we’ll break it down too.”

Notes

- Alexis Hornbuckle’s 13 points were a season high. She also recorded eight rebounds and five assists, both team-highs, marking the first time in her career that she has posted a game of at least 13 points, eight rebounds and five assists.

- Lynetta Kizer’s 14 points were also a season high. After being waived by the Tulsa Shock and then being signed to consecutive seven-day contracts by the Mercury, Kizer has recorded 9.3 points and 4.3 rebounds in her last three games.

- The team breaks for the 2012 Olympics in London until they face the Storm in Seattle on Thursday, August 16.

- DeWanna Bonner led the Mercury with 18 points, including 8-9 from the free throw line. Bonner leads the league in free throws made and attempted (120-144) through the first half of the season. Bonner has scored in double figures in all 19 games this season and has scored at least 18 in all but five games.

- Be sure to check back to PhoenixMercury.com for continued coverage of Diana Taurasi in the Olympics as well as other special features.