Coach Paul Westhead and the Mercury held a short practice session on Thursday afternoon.
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Practice Report: Taking Positives From a Loss
By Brian Martin,

AUBURN HILLS, Mich., Sept. 6, 2007 -- The Phoenix Mercury arrived at The Palace on Thursday afternoon for their first practice since their Game 1 loss to the Shock last night.

They are ready to make some adjustments, but are not going to panic after losing for the first time in over a month.

“It’s a fine line between playing chess and just resorting to your normal execution of things,” coach Paul Westhead said. “If you just execute what you normally do and what got you here, that might cover 80 percent of your problems versus trying to solve the 18 problems. You can get caught in a spin there.

“We’re not going to ignore the problems, but I don’t know if we’re going to try to go out and solve all of the problems by coming up with new schemes. When they do this, we’ll do that or when they do that, we’ll do this. You wind up with 15 thises and thats. We’ll kind of pick and choose what we do.”

Diana Taurasi, who scored 10 points and played only 22 minutes due to foul trouble, said the Mercury can’t try to make too many adjustments between Games 1 and 2.

“If you do that, you’re going to drive yourself crazy,” she said. “We’ve been a team that we’ve based our season on playing our style of basketball, no matter what adversity, no matter how things went the night before. So we’re going to come back today and practice like we have the last month and come back Saturday and keep doing what we do.”

Westhead said limiting Detroit’s offensive rebounding is at the top of his adjustment wish list.

“We’ll talk about that, maybe show some schemes where they got the advantage on us,” he said. “But it’s not an easy task to run a few drills and say, ‘we’ve got that solved.’”

Detroit outrebounded the Mercury 48-30 in Game 1 and Taurasi said the Mercury’s inability to control the defensive glass stymied their transition opportunities.

“When we rebound, we can go, and last night we didn’t have that many opportunities to get out and go,” she said. “One definitely counts on the other one to work, so we just have to concentrate a little bit more on the defensive end.”

“We just need to put a body on them more and box out because they got too many offensive rebounds last night and that was part of us not playing our defense the way we wanted to play,” said Tangela Smith. “Our game plan is to get the rebounds and go out, but they were getting too many second-chance points.”

Many Mercury players pointed out that despite all of the problems they had in Game 1 they still had a chance to win the game in the fourth quarter.

“You never want to take moral victories, but someone told me last night that it was a healthy loss. I kind of like that,” Taurasi said. “When I look back on it, we played hard; we didn’t play any less inspired. Sometimes things don’t go your way and sometimes they do go your way and when they don’t, you have to find a way to fix it and come back the next day, which is today, and just let that go and keep playing.”

“The bad news is that we lost the game,” Westhead said. “The good news is that with all of our dilemmas, we were right there.”

No Less Aggression from Diana

Taurasi said she doesn’t plan to adjust her play after fouling out in Game 1.

“That’s not going to take away from any of my aggression because the minute you start playing timid is the minute your level of play comes down tremendously,” she said. “Any player would tell you, when you’re not aggressive on the court, you might as well not even be out there, so it’s not going to take anything away from me.”

Last Mercury Loss

The last time the Mercury tasted defeat was on August 4, when they lost to the Seattle Storm 111-101. They responded by winning their next nine games. The last time the Mercury lost consecutive games was July 8 and 11, dropping contests to Detroit and San Antonio.

No Poetry from Westhead

Paul Westhead is known for his unorthodox motivational tactics. He has read poetry and played music for the players prior to games this season. There was no poetry after last night’s loss.

“It was a dead poets' society last night," Taurasi said. "I think all of the poets died.”

Looking for a Split

After dropping Game 1, the Mercury are looking to steal the home-court advantage with a win on Saturday night.

"There are things that we know we can improve on that we didn’t apply in Game 1," said Cappie Pondexter. "To beat this team and go back with a win would be great for us. We just want to come out give a lot of heart and a lot of energy from the beginning and play 40 minutes of Mercury basketball."