Mercury Need Rebounds to Fuel Their Offense

By Matt Paulson,
July 12, 2008

With the regular season more than halfway complete, the Mercury’s magic number is clear. Only this one has nothing to do with a countdown to the playoffs.

If you want to know how Phoenix fared in a game all you have to do is look at one number: its point total. When it is 85 or higher, a victory can safely be assumed. The Mercury are 9-1 in those games, the only blemish coming in the season opener.

When the total is under 85, a loss is guaranteed. Phoenix is 0-9 in those instances.

The Mercury average a league-high 88.0 points per game and also are first in the WNBA in field-goal percentage (43.2) and free-throw percentage (81.5). Those statistics indicate that Phoenix should have no problem reaching 85 points on a regular basis.

However, that hasn’t been the case.

The Mercury seem to either operate at maximum speed or drive with two flat tires. In its victories, Phoenix has averaged 96.3 points. In its losses, 80.5.

One of the biggest reasons for the disparity has to do with how well the team rebounds.

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“We can’t emphasize enough how important rebounding is because that helps us so much in our (fast) break,” assistant coach Julie Brase-Hairgrove said. “We get out and run so much better.”

While Phoenix has been outrebounded in all but five games this season, staying close in that category, getting boards at key times and keeping the opponent off the offensive glass are crucial for victory.

“It’s not like we have to outrebound the other team,” Brase-Hairgrove said. “But if we don’t let them get so many offensive rebounds, that helps us get out and get easier shots.”

And easier shots generally add up to at least 85 points.

COPYRIGHT 2008, EAST VALLEY TRIBUNE. Used with permission.