One-on-One With Penny Taylor

By Arash Azarmi,
Posted: Aug. 10, 2009

Forward Penny Taylor made her long-awaited home debut for the Phoenix Mercury, registering 11 points in 20 minutes of action in Saturday nightís home loss from the Indiana Fever at US Airways Center.

The Australian native sat down with after Tuesdayís practice to share her thoughts on returning from her ankle injury and rejoining the Mercury. First things first, howís the ankle?

Penny Taylor: The ankle is feeling great. Iím very excited about how well itís progressed. Itís right on schedule. It feels amazing in trainings and that translates to the games as well. So Iím very happy with it. What has it been like to slowly work yourself back in the lineup with the other players?

Taylor: We have such a good group of girls, so thereís been no real problems. Iím just out there working hard to make sure we can be as good as we can be for the games. Itís been a really fun three weeks. We were on the road for a lot of it so Iím happy to be back in Phoenix finally. You rejoined a team that is currently first in the Western Conference. What qualities do you add to this team thatís already one of the top teams in the WNBA?

Taylor: I just hope to add a little bit of depth. You know, bring some of my strengths to the team which is penetrating inside and some outside shooting. When I play the four [power forward] I can create a mismatch for other teams, because I am mobile. Iím looking forward to stepping up and doing whatever [Mercury head coach] Corey needs me to. Has it been an easy transition to come back to a team that has some familiar faces and a playing style that you were used to when you left?

Taylor: As far as on the court, it has been very similar. I played with Cappie [Pondexter] in Russia just recently and against Diana [Taurasi] so thereís nothing to get used to there. There are a few new girls here I havenít played with, but I quickly learned they are great talents. They are very energetic and fun players to play with. Really itís been a breeze. You have an interesting perspective since you were on that Mercury team that won the WNBA Championship in 2007. What are some similarities and differences between that team and the team this year?

Taylor: Just the sheer amount of talent both teams have. We have girls that can score from anywhere. Great team players who know how to pass. The differences arenít that huge. Corey has put a couple tweaks to the plays we ran in the past, because we have new players who are maybe suited to some other variation. Defensively, itís quite a bit different. Weíre not as much in that 3-2 zone we ran with [former head coach] Paul [Westhead]. We try to adjust to what the other team is doing, so we might do more trapping or switching. We mix it up a lot more than maybe we did back in 2007. You played your first game at home on Saturday. What was it like to be back and play in front of the Mercury fans?

Taylor: It was exciting! The fans gave me such a warm welcome, and it was like coming back to home again. It was an amazing feeling. I was very proud. The crowd was huge and amazing to see, with all the fun they seemed to have. I loved being a part of it. How would you evaluate your performance in the game?

Taylor: I felt OK with it. Like I said, Iím just trying to roll with it and get back into playing shape as fast as possible to help the team out. Everyoneís been a great help with that. Diana has called you one of her good friends, and you mentioned you played overseas with Cappie. How does that factor into the chemistry you have on the team, and how much you enjoy it?

Taylor: When you can work with your friends, no matter what job it is, itís always going to be fun. We get along very well, and we have a great understanding especially between the three of us who played in Russia recently. It makes the whole experience enjoyable. What is worse: The winters in Russia or the summers in Arizona?

Taylor: (laughs) I love the Phoenix summers. That Russian winter was the hardest thing I have been through. It got as cold as -13 degrees Fahrenheit. I love Phoenix and the sun. I wouldnít trade it for a Russian winter any day! Iím Australian, so I donít like the cold. (laughs) Itís your eighth year in the WNBA, fourth with the Mercury. Where do you see your future with Phoenix?

Taylor: I love Phoenix. If we keep this core group together that has done so well, with the exciting style of basketball that is played, I canít see myself going anywhere else. The clubís always been good to me. Iím a loyal type of person and Iíd love to stay here until the end.