Veteran brings much-needed inside presence

Mercury Notebook: Schumacher Making Difference

By Mark Heller,
June 2, 2007

She insists the best is around the bend, but even if true, Kelly Schumacher has already made a difference.

Brought in during an offseason trade with New York, the 6-foot-5 veteran hasn’t flashed the numbers of her Big Apple or Indiana days.

The seven-year pro averaged 7.8 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.19 blocks per game for the Liberty last year.

She’s averaged 4.5 points, six rebounds and less than a block per game off the bench this season, but has drawn praise from teammates and coach Paul Westhead for her toughness and interior presence, especially against Sacramento and Houston.

“I feel like I can give more on defense and blocking shots. Those things are going to happen naturally with more time,” she said. “What we need is defending and rebounding.”

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Without Kamila Vodichkova (pregnancy) and Kristen Rasmussen, who plays for today’s opponent, Connecticut, the Mercury needed to add lean post players who can rebound, run and defend in Westhead’s world.

Another reason the Mercury targeted both Schumacher and Tangela Smith in the offseason was because they could both play power forward or center. At times, the two have been on the floor together, but most of the time one is the center next to Penny Taylor.

“I can play easily with others,” Schumacher said. “There’s more to come.”

Both came in handy on the final possession of a 76-75 comefrom-behind victory against Sacramento. The Monarchs had three chances to score during the final 24 seconds, but the Mercury’s interior defense held on.

“The longest possession of my life,” joked Westhead.


Today’s game is on national television, and ABC will air a behind-the-scenes Mercury feature at halftime.

The network filmed footage and interviews during the season opener against San Antonio on May 19, and practice the day before. Included are interviews with Westhead, Diana Taurasi, Cappie Pondexter and Smith, plus microphones in the Mercury’s timeouts during the opener.


Mercury general manager and Suns vice president Ann Meyers Drysdale is among 34 nominees for the FIBA Hall of Fame Class of 2007. So, too, is former Mercury coach Cheryl Miller (1997-2000), who played professionally and led the team to the 1998 WNBA Finals.

The winners will be announced June 18. Other nominees include Oscar Robertson, Bill Russell and Dean Smith. Enshrinement is Sept. 12 in Madrid, Spain.

COPYRIGHT 2007, EAST VALLEY TRIBUNE. Used with permission.