Charde Houston: ‘Ready to Bring Energy’

By Ben York, PhoenixMercury.com

The acquisition of All-Star forward Charde Houston made perfect sense for the Phoenix Mercury – even before Penny Taylor’s injury. Not only can Houston score the ball, but she is known as an exceptional teammate and someone who can run the floor.

Now, with Taylor out for the entire 2012 season, Houston is ready and willing to help fill the gaping void that Taylor leaves behind.

Houston just completed her fourth season in Minnesota where she has posted career averages of 9.5 points on 44.6 percent shooting from the field and 3.9 rebounds per game. The 6-0 forward was selected as a WNBA All-Star in 2009, a season in which she averaged career bests with 13.1 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. She also shot 46.5 percent from the floor that season, while starting 33 of Minnesota’s 34 games.

PhoenixMercury.com caught up with Houston to get her thoughts on becoming a member of the Mercury, her relationship with the team’s players, and how she envisions her role on the team.

PhoenixMercury.com : First of all, how are you feeling? How was your season overseas?

Charde Houston : I feel great! I'm blessed to have a career with no major injuries or nagging pains. I had a pretty good off-season. I played in Both Turkey and in Israel. I had never played in Turkey prior to this season, and it was a good experience. It's definitely a country I'd like to play in again.

PhoenixMercury.com : Take us back to the moment you officially became a member of the Mercury - describe how you felt both from a basketball and personal standpoint.

Charde Houston : I remember everyone telling me to keep it to myself until it became official. I was looking on the internet all day to see if it had been posted. When the announcement was finally made, it was a sense of relief. I'm just blessed to be on a team that fits my style of play. I prayed for one team – the Mighty Mercury. I'm so thankful for this chance to play and be an impact!

PhoenixMercury.com : What part of playing for the Mercury are you most looking forward to?

Charde Houston : I'm looking forward to everything; that's the type of mindset that I have. I want to embrace all experiences on the court with the extremely fast-paced tempo, with the fans and everything in between. It's a new situation and I'm looking forward to impacting those around me in a positive way.

PhoenixMercury.com : What do you anticipate being the most difficult part of adjusting to the Mercury's system (if anything)?

Charde Houston : I don't know if I would call it difficult, but I definitely have to adjust to the style of play and moving at a fast pace all the time. It is definitely my style, but it's also one that I would have to get used to again. I'm excited for training camp because I will work hard and get ready for the regular season.

PhoenixMercury.com : Playing in the Western Conference for so long, and even going back to your Connecticut days, you've obviously become familiar with the Mercury's players. That has to be exciting for you. Talk about your relationship with the Merc's players.

Charde Houston : Of course, you have to know that I'm excited to play with DT [Diana Taurasi]! This is my first time (besides the All-Star game) playing with her. I hear so many great things about Dee's energy and emotion when she plays. I'm looking forward to that because I'm the type of player that doesn't show a lot of emotion while playing. That's one of the biggest changes that I want to make. I'm learning that it's difficult hard to play with very little emotion in this game.

I played with Candice "Lion" Dupree in Slovakia, and I'm so happy to have played with one of the best players in the world. I learned so much from her. Her ability to remain poised in any situation is amazing. I play with a lot of great players, but rarely do I play with one's who are considered the best at the same position I play. I was able to watch Taj [McWilliams-Franklin] and Rebekkah [Brunson] do great things in Minnesota, and I'm happy to have a great example in Candice.

PhoenixMercury.com : First word that comes to mind when you think of the 2012 Mercury season:

Charde Houston : Energy! Everyone knows that the Mercury is one of the most exciting teams in the WNBA to watch. The tempo and the emotional players make the game fun. I want to be a player that brings a lot of energy to the team, both on and off the court. Positive energy creates a great atmosphere! I have the ability to do it, and it will have a huge impact.

PhoenixMercury.com : First word that comes to mind when you hear the name Diana Taurasi:

Charde Houston : Relentless! Not too many people are willing to take everything on their shoulders, and produce. She's a winner. She has a complete winner’s mentality. When I say “winner’s mentality,” it isn't about the amount of winning shots you make; it's about the number of people you make better while doing it. Whenever I see her, she's always encouraging others to be better. When someone is down, she's there to pick them up. For me, it makes playing alongside a person like that more enjoyable. When your best players are your hardest workers, it's hard to let them down. You'll run through a wall for them and still keep going.

PhoenixMercury.com : Not to sound overly cliché, but part of your game do you feel fits best with the Mercury?

Charde Houston : I don't think my ability to score the basketball and run the floor is a secret. I thrive in situations where the floor is spread and I'm being placed in my strong spots on the floor. I also feed off of other's people energy. DeWanna [Bonner} is extremely emotional and I'm excited to be able to play with her. It makes the game so much more enjoyable. I've always been taught to never take without giving something back. I bring good energy as well. So, when things aren't going well in the game, I want to be able to bring the energy that we need to gain momentum.

PhoenixMercury.com : Do you see your role on the team being that much more important with the recent (and unfortunate) news of Penny Taylor being out for the season?

Charde Houston : I'm so sorry to hear about Penny's injury. I know she will make a speedy recovery. When you have situation like this, I think everyone's role changes. It builds character. Some people will be put in situations that they might not be used to.

I think adjusting at the beginning of training camp is better than a sudden injury during the season. People know what's expected of them and they're giving a chance to work on it. No matter what my role is, I will practice and play to the best of my ability. I have no doubt that Coach Gaines and staff will make the best decisions for the team.

PhoenixMercury.com : You're also known for your exceptional work in the community. With the Mercury also having a similar passion for giving back, have you already begun thinking of ways to impact the Phoenix community?

Charde Houston : Most definitely! I would like to have a few events to introduce myself to the community. Aside from what's required from the team. I will ease into my community service work slowly. It will increase as I get more acquainted with the franchise. Since this is my first year, I want to make sure that I am 100 percent focused on adjusting and having a good season.

PhoenixMercury.com : Any special message(s) you'd like relay to the X-Factor?

Charde Houston : I would like to thank everyone for welcoming me to the X-Factor family with open arms. I'm really excited to meet everyone! Don't be afraid to speak; I'm a very social person (keep www.chardehouston.com in mind). As we get farther into the season you will be able to ask questions and win prizes. Also, follow me on twitter @charhouston. If you have any questions related to fashion, don't be afraid to ask. I LOVE that, too!