Mercury Notebook: Team Not Panicking After Another Slow Start

By Matt Paulson
East Valley Tribune
June 18, 2008

Despite sitting in last place in the Western Conference with only two victories through eight games, the Mercury continue to be a patient group. "We're not in panic mode at all," general manager Ann Meyers Drysdale said Tuesday.

That's partly because although slow starts are unusual for defending WNBA champions, this is not uncharted territory for Phoenix.

Since adopting their run-and-gun style three seasons ago, lagging out of the starting blocks has been the Mercury's mode of operation. But so has coming on strong in the second half of the season.

Phoenix began the 2006 season 3-6 before winning its final seven games, just missing the playoffs.


For more coverage of Phoenix sports,
be sure to visit eastvalleytribune.com
Then last year, although they were never under .500, the Mercury hovered around that winning percentage for much of the season. After 22 games, they were just 12-10, but they ended the year by winning 11 of 12.

If Phoenix is to regain its elite status, it will have to do so with its current roster. While a tweak was made on Monday - rookie forward Willnett Crockett was released - Meyers Drysdale said no other alterations are on the horizon.

"I don't want to make a lot of changes, because I know how important chemistry is to a team," she said.

SMITH IS BACK ...

After missing the past two games with swelling in her right knee, center Tangela Smith will return to the starting lineup tonight. Smith is Phoenix's third-leading scorer (12.0) and is first on the team and seventh in the league in rebounding (7.8).

... AND SO IS OGA

Japanese point guard Yuko Oga, who has been away from the team for the past four games, has returned after participating in an Olympic qualifying tournament in Spain. Japan came up short in its bid to earn a spot in the Summer Games.

COPYRIGHT 2008, EAST VALLEY TRIBUNE. Used with permission.