Welcome to the Reporter's Notebook, your online home for Phoenix Mercury news and notes, odds and ends, and all sorts of misc. tidbits worth mentioning. PhoenixMercury.com's staff of writers will fill you in on the club's activities throughout the year.
Sleep America Charities Golf Tournament
Posted: Sep. 16, 2008
Mercury President Jay Parry, Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano, Suns broadcaster Al McCoy and Mercury center Tangela Smith.
Thirty-six teams participated in the tournament to raise money for local charities.
Taurasi, Pondexter Spend Labor Day at Chase Field
Posted: Sep. 2, 2008
If the Arizona Diamondbacks are superstitious, they may want to consider giving Diana Taurasi and Cappie Pondexter a pair of season tickets for the remainder of the 2008 campaign. The Mercury All-Stars – and recent gold medal winners - were in attendance for Monday’s contest against the St. Louis Cardinals – a contest which saw Arizona pull off an 8-6 come-from-behind victory.
“I’m a big baseball fan so it was very cool,” Taurasi said. “I think Arizona has a very good team this season. Their pitching is obviously solid every year and this year they can really hit the ball.”
That ability to hit the ball was certainly on display Monday, as the team’s shortstop, Stephen Drew became the first Major Leaguer to ever hit for the cycle in Arizona.
“It was awesome,” Taurasi said of the offensive outing. “Between what the Diamondbacks were able to do yesterday and Cappie throwing out the first pitch, it was just a great day.”
Mercury Named "Best Damn Sports Team, Period" in Arizona
Posted: Aug. 25, 2008
Diana Taurasi tries on her next outfit for her Phoenix magazine photo shoot.
The publication lists 101 of the best things the Valley has to offer, including sushi, art exhibits, record shops and even grilled cheese sandwiches. Recognizing the Mercury for being the only Valley sports franchise to capture a championship last year, Phoenix writes, “For now, the Mercury have done us proud by bringing home the 2007 WNBA Championship, proving that female athletes can do it better, stronger, faster and with a lot more style.”
The latter of those attributes are proven in the publication itself thanks to a photo shoot which both Taurasi and Pondexter participated in. Behind-the-scenes shots can now be seen via a new phoenixmercury.com photo gallery.
Suns and Mercury Team Up For Coaching Clinic
Posted: Aug. 20, 2008
Mercury Head Coach Corey Gaines recently offered his services at the First Annual Suns and Mercury Coaches Clinic. (NBAE Photos)
“It was a great night to be able to meet with so many local coaches and share some information,” Kerr said. “We had a really good turnout and really enjoyed hearing what the coaches had to say and hear their questions and thoughts. I think in this process everybody kind of learns from each other.”
Gaines discussed his experience in the game as both a player and a coach, while Porter ran a number of drills on the Suns and Mercury practice court.
“I think the most important thing when you’re talking about coaching youth is making sure a good job is being done in coaching fundamentals,” Porter said. “We made sure we got that across today and also the importance of having kids play the game the right way and I think we did that.”
Mazzante Breaks Down Routine for arizona woman
Posted: Aug. 11, 2008
The article also provides an inside look as to what goes inside Mazzante’s Gucci messenger bag which holds everything from her Sidekick to several packs of Orbit gum and even some Splenda. As the guard explains, “You never know which coffee spot might run out.”
Barbara Farris Featured in Yes!
Posted: July 28, 2008
(Michael McNamara/The Arizona Republic)
All of this and more is covered in a spotlight as part of The Arizona Republic's Yes! magazine's feature on four of Arizona's female athletes' personal styles and favorite fashion and beauty finds.
Mercury President Featured in Phoenix Business Journal.
Posted: July 28, 2008
“It was so amazing and so indescribable, the sense of accomplishing from winning,” Parry told writer Lynn Ducey of the run-to-the-title experience. “Of course, we want to repeat it.”
Parry discussed with Ducey her passion for not only helping the Mercury continue to improve on the court, but the experience of the fans off of it.
“I really focus on growing the business (and) improving the fan experience,” Parry tells the publication. “So on the business side, our off-season really turns into our on-season. We want to remain visible, and we don’t want to drop off the radar.”
The article also talks about Parry’s life away from the business of basketball, including how she spends her spare time, what she finds most stressful and her favorite motto, “There is always room for improvement.”
Mercury and XTRA Sports 910 Collect for Balls of Summer Charity
Posted: June 17, 2008
The Phoenix Mercury and XTRA Sports 910 are partnering to support the Seventh Annual Balls of Summer sporting goods drive. XTRA Sports 910 will accept donations as part of the week-long collection event during four live broadcasts from July 17-19. On Saturday, July 19, the Mercury will play host to Dan Bickley and the collection finale in the US Airways Center prior to its game vs. the Atlanta Dream.
Fans who donate new and gently used balls and athletic gear will enter to win great raffle prizes including a Nintendo Wii package, a 42” flat-screen plasma TV, autographed sports memorabilia, a suite to an Arizona Cardinals game and more. In addition, each donation during live broadcasts will earn listeners a free Dairy Queen Blizzard (while supplies last).
Donations can be made at Valley Sports Chalet stores, Half Moon Bar and Grill or on Saturday in the US Airways Center beginning at 4 p.m.
All donations benefit the Boys & Girls Clubs of the East Valley, Greater Scottsdale and Metropolitan Phoenix.
“Year seven of the Balls of Summer will be the best ever,” Clear Channel Radio Phoenix Director of Programming & Operations Smokey Rivers said. “With Sport Chalet hosting our daily live broadcasts, the Phoenix Mercury and XTRA Sports 910's Dan Bickley hosting the collection finale and participation from Valley sports icons, we will create a banner event on behalf of our beneficiaries, the kids at the Valley's Boys & Girls Clubs.”
Charli Turner Thorne to Broadcast Upcoming Mercury Games
Posted: June 11, 2008
She will also appear for two games following the Olympic break on Thursday, August 28 when the Mercury take on the San Antonio Silver Stars as well as Sunday, September 7, the Mercury’s final regular-season home game against the Houston Comets.
“I’m excited about the opportunity to once again be a part of the Mercury’s television broadcasts. Coming off a championship season, excitement about the Mercury and women’s basketball is at an all-time high in the Valley. The synergy we at ASU have established with the Mercury has been great for the growth and exposure of women’s basketball in the state of Arizona and it is something we look forward to continue to build.”
Turner Thorne heads up one of the premiere college basketball programs in the country and has led the ASU Women’s basketball team to the NCAA tournament for the past four years, which is the longest NCAA appearance streak in school history. This is her third year as a broadcaster for the Mercury and will be her 13th season as the ASU women’s basketball coach.
ESPY Awards: Vote for Taurasi
Posted: June 11, 2008
After helping to lead the Mercury to its first WNBA Championship, Diana Taurasi is among those vying for an ESPY, ESPN's annual awards for outstanding achievement in the sports world the past year. Tauarsi is a nominee in the category of "Best WNBA Player." Fan voting is underway and continues until July 12.
Click here to vote for Tauarsi now!
Mercury to Honor National Champion ASU Softball Team
Posted: June 11, 2008
The Phoenix Mercury will honor the members of the National Champion ASU softball team in an on-court presentation during the home game vs. Detroit at US Airways Center on Saturday, June 14. In addition, the ASU team will sign autographs in the Casino Arizona Pavilion prior to the 12:30 p.m. tip-off.
Arizona State posted a perfect 10-0 postseason record on their way to winning their first Women’s College World Series. The Sun Devils outscored their opponents 56-3 during the postseason including an 11-0 defeat of Texas A&M to seal the championship. The win set a WCWS record for largest margin of victory in a deciding championship game. The Sun Devils defeated Alabama twice and Pac 10 rival UCLA once in Oklahoma City, Okla. before meeting the Aggies in the championship series.
Posted: May 12, 2008
Click to buy a $10 ticket to Championship Saturday and enter the code WISH. $2 from every ticket sold in that 12 hours will go back to Christmas Wish. You can also buy your tickets at US Airways Center from 7-10 a.m. or Tempe Marketplace from 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. The goal is 1,000! Support families from around the Valley!
Mercury’s Brooke Smith to Appear at Girls For A Change Ceremony
Posted: May 7, 2008
Smith is a rookie for the Mercury.
Girls For A Change, a national organization that empowers thousands of teen girls to create and lead social change, provides girls with professional female role models, leadership training and the inspiration to work together in teams to solve persistent societal problems in their communities. The completion ceremony was created to recognize the accomplishments of 50 local high school girls.
The Mercury's Brooke Smith, who is in her first year with the club, will be on-hand to award the recipients. The ceremony, which should take take approximately two hours, will be attended by 200 Girls For A Change participants.
Smith, who is a rookie post player out of Stanford, was an Honorable Mention 2006-07 Associated Press and Kodak/WBCA All-American.
Mercury to Co-Host Power Women Power Tools Day
Posted: April 16, 2008
The WNBA Champion Phoenix Mercury and Habitat for Humanity Valley of the Sun will host Power Women Power Tools Day from noon to 4:00 p.m. on Thursday, April 17, at the site of the Habitat Women Build at 434 South Grand in Mesa. Valley business women will come together with the future home owner to help build the house and to learn home building skills.
Phoenix Mercury President and COO Jay Parry, Lowe’s Store Manager Hattie Matthews, Habitat for Humanity Valley of the Sun Chief Development Officer Missie D’Aunoy and future Habitat home owner Shana Shaffer will be on hand as a crew of women volunteers and sponsors build the home with the Shaffer family as part of Habitat for Humanity's Women Build program.
Underwritten by Lowe’s, the Women Build program brings women from all walks of life together to learn construction skills and then use those skills to be part of the solution to poverty housing. Lowe’s provided a $42,500 grant to sponsor this home.
Taylor, Jackson Making Headlines in Native Australia
Posted: Aug. 22, 2007
Mercury forward Penny Taylor and Storm center Lauren Jackson were teammates at the 2007 WNBA All-Star Game.
While she has often played in the shadow of the 2003 WNBA MVP, Taylor has garnered some MVP consideration this season and has picked up some individual honors of her own in her homeland.
“That Taylor won the MVP as the Opals won the world title last year speaks volumes about the player she is,” reports the Herald Sun, “using her athleticism and smarts on offence (sic), where she has an ability to get to the basket and bury an open jumpshot.”
In addition to playing together in international competition, the two close friends were most recently teammates for the Western Conference at the 2007 WNBA All-Star Game.
May 31, 2007 On June 18, the FIBA Hall of Fame’s 2007 Class of Inductees will be announced. The class of 2007 will consist of a maximum of 20 persons, 34 potential candidates being announced earlier this week.
Among the hopefuls are Suns Vice President Ann Meyers Drysdale and former Mercury Head Coach Cheryl Miller. Miller coached the Mercury from 1997-2000, leading the team to the 1998 WNBA Finals.
Meyers Drysdale meanwhile is viewed as one of the true pioneers in women’s basketball and currently serves as both the general manager of the Phoenix Mercury as well as a Vice President with the Suns. In 1993, Meyers Drysdale – who in 1974 became the first high school player ever to make a United States National Team – was enshrined into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Other nominees for the 2007 Class include legends such as Oscar Robertson, Bill Russell and Dean Smith. The official enshrinement ceremony will take place on September 12 in Madrid, Spain.
August 7, 2006 The Mercury held an open practice to season ticket holders. While the Mercury practiced from 11 to 12:30 PM many of the X-Factor watched from the stands. After the Mercury ran drills Coach Paul Westhead thanked the fans in attendance for their continued support and then handed the microphone over to the players. Diana Taurasi, Kamila Vodichkova, Jennifer Lacy, Cappie Pondexter, and Penny Taylor each took turns answering questions from the Mercury faithful.
The Mercury host the Minnesota Lynx tomorrow night at 6:30 PM. Don't forget tomorrow's tip-off is at 6:30 PM and it is also Fan Appreciation night. To cap it all off, the Mercury's second to last regular season home game will be broadcast nationally on ESPN 2!
August 1, 2006: Diana Taurasi and Cappie Pondexter hung out at Chicago's Niketown on Monday night. Over 200 fans including a huge crowd from CP's alma mater Marshall High School attended the meet and greet with the Mercury All-Stars along with Stacy Dales and Candice Dupree. The players answered questions and a few lucky fans won tickets and autographed Shox DT's!
July 31, 2006: The Phoenix Mercury took their run-and-gun style to Chester’s Harley-Davidson in Mesa for their annual team photo. Each player selected a shirt to wear for the photo and the team posed with three Harley's that are on sale at Chester's Harley-Davidson. You can check out more Harley-Davidson news and information at chestershd.com!
July 24, 2006: Paul Westhead brought his run-and-gun style of basketball to the valley of the sun with a great deal of hype. Now with only 11 games to play in the 2006 WNBA season and the Mercury fighting for the playoffs his style has been proven efficient in the women’s game.
The Mercury lead the league in scoring averaging nearly 84 points per game and rank third in assists per game. The team gets up and down the court faster than any other team which is why they also lead the league in number of possessions per contest.
The success of Westhead’s style has brought more attention and this week the Mercury Coach’s style will be the subject of ESPN’s Outside the Lines (OTL). The show will feature interviews with Coach Westhead, Diana Taurasi, Cappie Pondexter, and more.
Check out OTL featuring the Mercury’s fast break style this Wednesday at 12:30pm MST on ESPN.
July 20, 2006: Mercury and Australian basketball legend Michele Timms was inducted into Basketball Australia’s Hall of Fame in Melbourne on Thursday night.
Timms joins the likes of Lindsay and Andrew Gaze and Robyn Maher, who were inducted as part of the inaugural Hall of Fame function in 2004. Former Suns center Luc Longley was also inducted.
Among the Mercury's all-time leader in several catagories, the Melbourne, Victoria native is generally regarded as one of Australia's greatest female basketball players in history.
July 13, 2006: Maybe she should asked the rim before she jumped. Diana Taurasi, making her second WNBA All-Star Game appearance in New York on Wednesday, attempted a dunk late in the annual showcase for the league's best and brightest stars.
The attempt was less than successful, as the ball hit the bottom of the rim on her way. The former Rookie of the Year looked a bit embarassed as players from both rosters howled with delight at her misfortune.
One of the most affable and self-effacing professional athletes around, Taurasi took the gaff in stride.
"I saw a clear lane to the basket and decided it was my turn to dunk, and the rim said, 'No, it's not your turn,' " Taurasi told the Associated Press.
July 12, 2006: Diana Taurasi and Cappie Pondexter got warmed up for tonight All-Star appearance in the 2006 WNBA All-Star Game by participating in the 3-Point Shootout and the Dribble, Dish, and Swish Contest yesterday.
Prior to the festivities Taurasi proclaimed that she would win the contest, but she failed live up to her promise. In a competition that featured many of the best 3-point artists in the WNBA, Taurasi came in last, scoring only seven points out of a possible 30. Dawn Staley won the event 17-16 over Katie Douglas. Taurasi, however, currently leads the league in three-point shooting percentage and three-pointers made.
Pondexter hoped to unseat the favorite and reigning champion Sue Bird in the Dribble, Dish and Swish Contest, but she ended up getting third place with a time of 39 seconds. Fellow rookie phenom Seimone Augustus won the event in 28.5 seconds, beating out Bird in the final round by five seconds.
Taurasi, making her second All-Star appearance, and Pondexter, one of four rookies in the event, hope to bring the Western Conference All-Stars another victory tonight in the seventh annual WNBA All-Star Game. The Western Conference has won all six of the previous All-Star games even though they have held five of the six contests on Eastern Conference floors. Last year the West won by 23 points.
June 22, 2006: Returning to the Mercury had to have been a slam dunk decision for forward Kayte Christensen. She has a home here and was one of the most popular players during her first run in the Valley, not to mention the potential for the team’s success with the talent and new coaching philosophy that Paul Westhead has brought to Phoenix.
However, after listening to her interview with “Gambo and Ash’s” John Gambadoro on XTRA Sports 910 on Wednesday afternoon, reuniting with Gambo might have been the final element which swayed Christensen to re-sign with the team that drafted her in 2002.
A former regular on the afternoon drive sports talk show, Christensen returned to the radio airways to discuss her journey since leaving, her return to Arizona and the Mercury’s chances of success this season.
Gambadoro, a father of three daughters, has long been a supporter of the Mercury and will be playing a major role in the Daddy Date Night promotion when the Mercury host the Fever at US Airways Center on Friday night.
The Gambo-Christensen interview ended with a typical exchange from the Mutual Admiration Society.
Christensen: You better behave yourself, Gambo.
Gambadoro: If you can take your eyes off me for a couple of seconds on Friday… You worry about the game, don’t worry about how I look.
Christensen: It’s going to be a challenge, but I’m going to have to see what I can do there.
Gambadoro: If I wasn’t married, Kayte… You’ll always be one of my favorites.
Christensen: Thank you, Gambo.
June 7, 2006: Just five games into her professional career, Mercury rookie guard Cappie Pondexter has already joined a place among an elite group of WNBA legends with her recent play. Her 30-point performance in Tuesday night's win over the Monarchs was her second straight 30-plus game, a feat previously accomplished only by greats Cynthia Cooper and Cheryl Swoopes.
With Diana Taurasi also reaching the 30-point mark against Sacramento, it marked the first time in league history that two teammates reached the total in the same game.
Pondexter, the Mercury's second overall pick in the 2006 WNBA Draft out of Rutgers, is well on her way to becoming a favorite to bring the league's Rookie of the Year Award back to the Valley. Taurasi won the honor in 2003.
May 2, 2006: WNBA Commissioner Donna Orender was in Phoenix on Tuesday to discuss the league's marketing and branding strategies with Mercury officials. Orender also spoke with Head Coach Paul Westhead and is excited about the style of play he is implementing in Phoenix. During a Mercury employee meeting, Orender went on to say that the Mercury’s own Diana Taurasi will be one of the league's stars for years to come.
Orender, who begins her second year as WNBA Commissioner, said that the marketing slogan for the league this season is "Have You Seen Her?" In answering the question, which is being asked during a commercial airing throughout the NBA Playoffs, Orender said she wants to hear: "Yes, and she is a remarkable basketball player. Yes, she is exciting to watch. Yes, she inspires me. Yes, I have seen her and all of my friends and family in Phoenix should see her too."
Prior to being named WNBA Commissioner a year ago, Orender was the Senior Vice President of the PGA Tour.
May 2, 2006: Mercury forward Shereka Wright suffered a torn achilles tendon during Monday's practice and will have surgey today. Wright will miss the entire 2006 season.
“This is such an unfortunate situation for Shereka and our team," General Manager Seth Sulka said. "She is coming off of off-season wrist surgery and had worked really hard to prepare herself for this season. We were really excited about Shereka’s fit into our fast-break style of play and she would have had a big role in the team’s play this season.
"We know that Shereka will get the best care possible and come back an even stronger player next year. Our team physician, Dr. Evan Lederman, will perform the surgery today.”
The third-year Purdue product averaged 3.8 points and two rebounds in 25 games last season.
April 11, 2006: On Saturday, April 8, Mercury guard Kelly Miller took part in a special fundraiser – the inaugural Blake's Miracle SWIMkid-a-thon at Swim Kids USA. The event was created in Blake Whitehead’s memory to help children suffering from life threatening diseases. 100% of all donations and pledges were contributed to Banner Children's Hopsital at Banner Desert Medical Center.
On December 26, 2005 Blake, 21 months, was diagnosed with acute lympoblastic luekemia (ALL). After a brave 3 month fight against this disease, Blake passed away on March 8, 2006. Blake is one of many children who are diagnosed with cancer every year. For more information, visit Blakes Miracle.org.
Nov. 21, 2005: Shereka Wright recently participated in the 12th Annual Big Guy Turkey Drive at the Salvation Army in Phoenix. With the help of 3TV and Brad Cesmat, along with numerous local celebrities, over 800 turkeys were collected at the event. Shereka was the first participant of the day to roll a strike as a part of the "turkey bowling" duel among the celebrities.
Nov. 11, 2005: Mercury forward Penny Taylor sat down recently to chat with Australia's The Age to discuss her well-deserved break, love and basketball. Click here to read more.
Oct. 31, 2005: The Girl Scouts of Arizona's Cactus-Pine Council is proud to present the 2005 World Awards for Women and Young Women of Distinction. The presentations will take place on Saturday, Dec. 10 at the JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort & Spa in Phoenix. Tickets are $55 per person and tables of 10 are available.
The World Awards celebrate the accomplishments of Girl Scouts and its alumnae as women and young women of distinction who use their voices and talents to enrich our communities and pave the way for future women leaders.
Entertainment and activities for all ages with a special silent auction of Diana Taurasi signed Cookie plates, teapots and cookie jars, and a special raffle of Tiffany & Company Pearls.
For more information, contact Rachel Seward at 602-253-6359, ext. 1209.
Sept. 28, 2005: Mercury guard Anna DeForge took time out of her offseason schedule last Thursday to help Channel 3 weatherman Brad Perry raise money and awareness for Arizona’s Best Buddies program. Anna served as a celebrity chef for attendees at Scottsdale Japanese restaurant Benihana. Best Buddies enhances the lives of people with intellectual disabilities by providing opportunities for one-to-one friendships and integrated emplyoyment. For more information about Arizona’s chapter, click here.
Aug. 29, 2005: The Mercury's Scorch will be among the WNBA mascots to tip off the 2005 WNBA Playoffs in a “Mascot Marathon”. The Marathon will lead them to New York City hot spots throughout the day, including Times Square, Rockefeller Center, the Empire State Building, the world-famous Carnegie Deli - where owner Sandy Levine unveils a new creation, the WNBA Playoffs Sandwich – and culminates in a “Fan Festival” at the NBA Store.
Among the other mascots in attendance will be the New York Liberty's Maddie the Dog, the Indiana Fever's Freddie Fever, the Connecticut Sun's Blaze and the Houston Comets' Haley.
July 28, 2005: Followers of the Mercury the last two seasons already know what a card All-Star guard Diana Taurasi can be. Soon, fans can get their own Taurasi card when the WNBA debuts its new set of trading cards Friday, July 29. The 2005 WNBA collection by Rittenhouse Archives, the top producer of science-fiction and fantasy trading cards, will be their first set of sports cards.
July 18, 2005: Who does Diana Taurasi want to play her in the movie about her life? How many times a week does the 2004 WNBA Rookie of the Year floss? Has the Mercury's All-Star point guard ever lost her cell phone in a toilet? The answers to these and many other provocative questions are answered in the upcoming issue of Inside Stuff magazine. Taurasi is featured in the "24 Seconds" segment where she talks about going back to UConn for her sociology degree and her friendship with Terrell Owens, among many other things. And for the record, Angelina Jolie, twice a week and yes.
Taurasi is also included in a WNBA Roundtable discussion with some of the league's best, including Lisa Leslie, Lauren Jackson, Sheri Sam, Katie Smith and Tamika Catchings. The August/September issue is due on newstands within the next couple of weeks.
June 16, 2005: With America West Arena’s sold out lower bowl heavily occupied with children of all ages from across the Valley and state for Wednesday’s rare matinee, the home crowd had a unique enthusiasm. They cheered loudly for every basket and seemed to hit maniacal proportions with every “Mercury ball!” that came from the public address announcer.
“It was fun,” said Taurasi. “With the kids screaming I felt like I was at day care all over again. It felt good, though. The kids are cute. They’re fun. They had a good time, we had a good time with them and we won, so it was a good day. We haven’t lost a noon game, so I think we should petition to play every game at noon.”
June 14: Tracy and Kaley from Sonoran Living stopped by the Mercury's practice at America West Arena on Tuesday to show off their skills! The pair from ABC 15's weekday morning lifestyle magazine show got some tips from the Mighty Merc's Penny Taylor, Lisa Harrison, Shereka Wright and Kayte Christensen. Watch for this entertaining footage on the local hit television show sometime in July and check back with PhoenixMercury.com for the exact date.
June 12: Mercury All-Star forward Anna DeForge takes her basketball experience to airwaves when she joins former Suns star Cedric Ceballos on MEGA 104.3 and 99.3 FM every Thursday morning at 7:30 a.m. DeForge, now in her second season with the Mercury, shares the mic with Ceballos for a half-hour of basketball talk on the Jammin' R&B station.
March 18: The Phoenix Mercury are mad about the women's march to the NCAA Championship that begins this weekend. You can find Diana Taurasi's complete picks on WNBA.com (and you'll never guess who she picked to win it all), but the following are the Final Four predictions from some of the Mercury's players and staff:
|Chattanooga Regional||Tempe Regional||Philadelphia Regional||Kansas City Regional|
|Diana Taurasi||Louisiana State||North Carolina||Tennessee||Connecticut|
|Anna DeForge||Louisiana State||Baylor||Tennessee||Connecticut|
|Carrie Graf||Louisiana State||North Carolina||Tennessee||Connecticut|
|Seth Sulka||Duke||Baylor||Tennessee||Kansas State|
|Mercury Rising (boosters)||Louisiana State||Baylor||Tennessee||Connecticut|
Feb. 2, 2005: While a number of Mercury players are spending this offseason playing in professional league's throughout the world, Mercury General Manager Seth Sulka is going back to the college game. Sulka will be the color analyst for Arizona State women's basketball broadcasts on on NBC 1190 AM with play-by-play man and long-time public address announcer Jeff Munn.
Sulka earned his degree in Journalism/Public Relations from ASU and graduated magna cum laude.
Nov. 1, 2004: The Mercury's Diana Taurasi and Ashley Robinson were on hand to help the Suns dedicate their new Reading and Learning Center at the Assistance League of Phoenix's Sunnyslope location. The Assistance League was the recipient of the 2004 Phoenix Suns Charities Playmaker Award, the largest single grant given by PSC each year. The $100,000 award helped fund the construction of the Phoenix Suns Charities Reading and Learning Center.
Oct. 22, 2004: She's Nikki McCray and she approved the following message. With the Presidential election less than two weeks away, WNBA.com asked some WNBA players what they would do if they were elected to the most powerful position on the planet. Rookie-of-the-Year Diana Taurasi said she would "cancel taxes," while All-Star guard Anna DeForge would simply resign with the state the world is in right now.
Nikki McCray, however, said she would work gender equality, a topic actually brought up the Presidential debates last month.
"If I were President of the United States," McCray stated, "women would rock! There would probably be more equality between men and women in terms of pay scale because right now, it’s just unbelievable. Look at the salaries in the NBA versus the WNBA, if you look at the salaries in the corporate world, it is totally different and we bring the same skills. Equality does not exist in this world and that is probably one of the things that I would focus on."
Oct. 21, 2004: With Val Ackerman's announced resignation as President of the WNBA, the list of successor's to replace the only president in the league's eight-year history has already begun. Among the names mentioned in USA Today included New York Liberty senior vice president Carol Blazejowski, WNBA vice president of player personnel Renee Brown, Mystics president Susan O'Malley and the Mercury's own general manager, Seth Sulka.
Sept. 29, 2004: Just because their season has ended does not mean the Phoenix Mercury players have stopped working and giving. All-Star forward Nikki McCray made a surprise visit to Phoenix Children's Hospital on Tuesday to pay a visit and shoot some hoops with longtime Mercury fan Andy Batchelor.
The 10-year-old Batchelor has been hospitalized and wheelchair-bound with a virus for several weeks and spending some time with McCray was just what the doctor ordered. The two visited for a while before taking to the court for their own personal shootaround. By all accounts, Batchelor drained shot after shot from her wheelchair, to the amazement of McCray and the hospital's staff.
PhoenixMercury.com wishes Andy a speedy recovery and much luck as she pursues her dream of playing alongside talented ahtletes and great people like Nikki McCray.
Sept. 23, 2004: Mercury fan Janet Webster stepped up and scored some major points for Phoenix Mercury Charities, with an assist from All-Star guard Anna DeForge. Webster's top bid of $400 won her the right to spend the afternoon with DeForge shopping at Westcor's Chandler Fashion Center on Tuesday, with the proceeds going to the Mercury's charitable efforts to help those in need.
Webster received a $100 Westcor gift card and enjoyed lunch with DeForge at the Cheesecake Factory after shopping until they nearly dropped, and building a WNBA monkey at Build-A-Bear.
August 19, 2004: Maria Stepanova led her Russian National Team to a 77-67 win over Brazil on Wednesday at the 2004 Olympics in Athens. Stepanova scored 15 points and grabbed nine rebounds as the Russians moved to 2-1 in the preliminary round.
The 6-8 center played four seasons for the Mercury from 1998-2001 and the club is hoping she will return to the Valley for the team's WNBA playoff drive in September.
August 6, 2004: Temporarily ditching her Mercury duds, a very fashionable Diana Taurasi is profiled in today's Yes supplement of The Arizona Rebublic. In addition to shots of Dee the model, the guard talks about shopping with tennis star Serena Williams, her appearance at the 2004 ESPY Awards and her impression of the Taurasi bobblehead being given out in the last regular season home game on Sunday, Sept. 19.
"I do like the slimmer version of me," Taurasi said about the mini Dee. "The bun's hot. This is crazy. I have a small head. I like that."
July 21, 2004: Jennifer Gillom is unaccustomed to being called a legend, but she better get used to it. The former Mercury star will be honored along with teammate Bridget Pettis at Saturday’s Legend Night when the Mighty Merc host Indiana.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Gillom told PhoenixMercury.com at Wednesday Mercury win. “It will also be a big night for Bridget, as well, especially playing against her old team. Being honored with a player like Bridget, it’s going to be a great night.
As excited as she is about the weekend’s festivities, Gillom views her legend status with mixed emotions.
“It’s a good thing and a bad thing, because now I realize it’s over,” she said. “The good part about it, of course, is that I am being recognized for my accomplishments and that’s what I’m looking forward to.”
July 15, 2004: The awards and accollades just keeping on coming in for Mercury super-rookie Diana Taurasi. Wednesday night the three-time NCAA Player of the Year was presented with two major awards at the taping of the annual ESPY Awards show in Los Angeles. Taurasi won the Best College Female Athlete for the second straight year and was voted as the Best Female Athlete, as well. "Dee" led the University of Connecticut to their third straight NCAA Championship in April before being selected by the Mercury as the first overall pick in the 2004 WNBA Draft.
"It was exciting. Whenever you go to an event like that with so many people, it was definitely exciting for the first time being there," Taurasi said. "I guess since it was fan voting, they felt sorry for me. Whenever you’re in a category with the quality of Ana Sorenstam, you would think she would have it locked up, but the fans gave me the benefit of the doubt."
"She’s special and deserving of those awards," Mercury Head Coach Carrie Graf said. "They’re the start of many more to come as a pro athlete. Her trophy cabinet’s going to be overloading."
The ESPYs will be broadcast Sunday evening on ESPN.
July 13, 2004: Mercury super-rookie Diana Taurasi is among those featured on the cover of the latest edition of ESPN's magazine. The issue is the publication's first-ever photo issue and also includes a full-page black-and-white picture of Dee inside. Taurasi is not the only Mercury player to pop up the magazine, however. On page 49, there is an action shot from a Purdue game last season which shows Suns rookie Shereka Wright and Mercury draftee Erika Valek diving for a loose ball.
July 6, 2004: Wednesday night’s game against the Sparks in Los Angeles will mark the halfway point in the 2004 season for the Mercury. A win would give them a winning first half of a season for the first time since 2000. Possibly the biggest sign of progress for this Mercury team has been the ability to compete on the road. The club is currently 2-2 in their season-long seven-game road trip.
“To get any wins on the road is huge,” admitted Head Coach Carrie Graf. “Particularly over the last couple of years, it’s been tough for the Mercury to get wins on the road, and for us to change the culture of that and how we approach road games, has obviously been a big part of us moving forward. It builds confidence when you can get a few wins on the road. When you can go into other peoples’ gyms and steal a win, it’s a really good confidence builder.”
“Going on the road and winning a couple of games is good for team morale,” agreed rookie guard Diana Taurasi. “It gives us the confidence that we can go on the road and actually win games. Overall, it’s been a good road trip.”
After Wednesday’s game, the trip continues Friday at Minnesota before concluding at New York for a nationally televised contest against the Liberty (11 a.m., ESPN2)
July 6, 2004: Earlier this season, rookie Diana Taurasi experienced the feeling of “going home” when the Mercury traveled to Connecticut to play the Sun in the state where she won three consecutive NCAA Championships with UConn. When the Mercury travel to Los Angeles to face the Sparks, it will be a different sort of homecoming for Taurasi, who grew up in the area.
“I’m going there to just play,” she said. “My family will be there, but it’s no big deal. My ties have grown apart a little in L.A. I haven’t really been there in four or five years, so it’s a little different (than Connecticut).”
Taurasi is looking forward to playing against a team she used to root for, however.
“Growing up in the area, I definitely watched the Sparks play all of their games,” she said. “It will be fun.”
June 19, 2004: The Australian national team wrapped up its three-game Olympic preparation series by thumping China 94-48 in Sydney. Penny Taylor once again led the way for the Aussies with a game-high 23 points. The Opals finished 3-0 in the mini-tournament, with Taylor averaging 17.3 points a game. Taylor will be back in Phoenix and in uniform when the Mercury host Minnesota on Tuesday.
June 17, 2004: Mercury forward Penny Taylor led her Australian Opals team to a 79-53 win over China. Taylor, who led all players with 17 points and eight rebounds, is in her native Australia in order fulfill her Olympic commitment and play in August’s 20004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece.
The four-year WNBA veteran will miss Friday night’s game against the Sparks, but will return to the Valley in time for Tuesday’s match-up against Minnesota.
June 16, 2004: No one was more bummed out by the Lakers’ NBA Finals loss to the Pistons than Diana Taurasi. At the same time, no one was more ready to admit they were wrong about their predictions.
“That’s the way the ball bounces,” the rookie guard said. “The better team won. No doubt about it. I don’t even know how the Lakers got to the Finals, the way they played. Karl Malone wasn’t there. That took away a lot of the inside. We got murdered on the boards. We looked old and slow.
“Something good came out of it. For UConn, Detroit’s Richard Hamilton got a championship. Tayshaun Prince is from California, so it works out for everyone.”
June 15, 2004: Injured guard Edwina Brown gave the boot the boot today. The four-year veteran made her first appearance on the AWA practice court without the restrictive boot she has been wearing to protect her surgically repaired Achilles heal that will keep her out of action the entire season.
“It is gone for good,” Brown said. “It feels like a milestone. This is the first barrier and I got over it. It’s frustrating to not play, but hey, what can I do? I can’t really complain or continue to be mad because what’s done is done. I’m a competitor and can still be competitive in my rehabbing. That’s my focus right now.”
June 15, 2004: Come meet Kayte Christensen at the RoomStore in Mesa on Alma School and the 60 freeway this Saturday, June 15, from 2-4 p.m. The third-year forward will be signing autographs and talking hoops, so stop by and say "Hi" to Kayte.
June 14, 2004: Mercury assistant coach Lisa Harrison had successful surgery on her left knee last Thursday. “Everything went fine. I’m just a little sore now after the morphine has worn off, but everything went well. I’m going to start rehab this week, get this one fixed and do the other one in August.”
Harrison still has designs on playing next season, but will let her body decide that as her rehabilitation progresses. “If it’s at all possible and I’m healthy enough to play, I want to play, but I have to listen to my body at this point.”
June 14, 2004: With a few days off before Friday’s game at home against the L.A. Sparks, the Mercury are using their time to “regroup and get ready” following last week’s loss to the Sting, according to Head Coach Carrie Graf.
“The focus the next few days is all about us,” Graf said. “This is a young team and our players are still learning the plays just like us coaches are trying to find good rotations as a group, offensively and defensively. There is still a lot of growth and change in what we’re doing. We just keep hammering away at the same things. We’re not saying anything new. It’s a matter of maintaining consistency in the things we do.”
June 10, 2004: Former Mercury forward, current assistant coach Lisa Harrison is scheduled to undergo a lateral release and scope of her left knee today, "if I don't chicken out," she said. Recovery time is expected to be two to three months, at which time she will have the same procedure performed on her left knee. Harrison retired just before the start of the 2004 season among the club's all-time leader in minutes, points, rebounds and games played. The Tennessee native has not ruled out a return to playing status next season.
June 10, 2004: Maybe they can refer to it as "Fri-Dee." Diana Taurasi’s got a busy Friday planned. In addition to the Mercury’s 7 p.m. game against the Charlotte Sting, it’s the rookie guard’s 22nd birthday. “I’m officially grown up,” Taurasi said. “My parents are coming out. They’ve watched me play a million times, but it’ll be nice for them to be out here.”
This year’s No.1 draft pick will also accept her second consecutive Nancy Lieberman Award in a pregame ceremony. The honor recognizes the top U.S. collegiate point guard in women’s Division I basketball. “Number 2,” Taurasi added, “and it’s special because every year a Connecticut player has won it so far. (Former UConn guard) Sue Bird won it the first two years, and I’ve won it the last two years, so it’s been cool.”
June 10, 2004 Phoenix Suns forward/center Maciej Lampe played spectator during the Phoenix Mercury’s 75-59 win over the Connecticut Sun on Wednesday. Following a morning workout at AWA, the 19-year-old took a front-row seat for his first-ever Mercury game. He admits he's no stranger to the WNBA however. Before coming to Phoenix, Lampe got his first glimpse of the league as a New York Knick, watching the Liberty play at Madison Square Garden.
“I don’t understand how they play with such a small ball,” he laughed, “but they can play.”
June 8, 2004: Phoenix Suns All-Star Shawn Marion, seen lurking in the tunnel observing the Mercury's practice Tuesday afternoon, plans on attending his first game of the season on Wednesday, but is already impressed with the team and its rookie sensation Diana Taurasi. "She’s nice. I haven’t had a chance to watch a whole game yet, but I’ve liked what I saw. She’s very aggressive coming in as a rookie. She’s going to have a great year."
June 7, 2004: Mercury Director of Communications Tami Nealy brought a copy of the Nov. 24, 2003 issue of Sports Illustrated to practice today. The "college basketball preview" issue, which featured UConn's Diana Taurasi and Emeka Okafor on the cover, was sent in by a young fan who had already gotten Okafor's autograph and was requesting one of Dee's.
"Where am I supposed to sign?" Taurasi asked, incredulously. "Emeka signed across the whole cover! He always does that to me."
June 2, 2004: Mercury guard Nikki McCray is guaranteed a rooting section just for her each home game at America West Arena, thanks to "Nikki's McCrazzies" section. Sponsored by Reebok, the former Olympian and the six-year WNBA veteran is continuing the tradition of donating tickets that started with her first season in Washington.
"Every year since I’ve been in the WNBA, I love to give back," the Tennessee native said. "I love providing a positive place for kids to go and enjoy themselves. This is entertainment for me. We just selected groups that have done a lot of positive stuff in the community and give them a free showing at the game. Groups like the Boys and Girls Clubs, Read to Achieve members and others to come out and watch a game. It’s fun and it’s my way of giving back to the community."
May 29, 2004: While in Seattle to take on the Storm this week, Diana Taurasi had the opportunity to hang out with former University of Connecticut teammate and current Storm guard Sue Bird during a special autograph session at Nike Town on Thursday. The two friends also shot an interesting segment down at Pike's Place Fish Market that was used in the opening of ESPN2's broadcast Friday night.
"They made Sue and I go throw fish at each other," Taurasi said. "It’s tough. Some of those fish are really heavy. But I was smart because I said, 'Sue, I’ll throw ‘em, you gotta catch ‘em.' (Laughs) she got it all over her arms, so I didn’t get as dirty as she did."