PHOENIX MERCURY
2006 Results: The Mercury finished
18-16, (.529, 5th in the West).
Roster | Stats | 2007 Schedule
Head coach: Paul Westhead enters his second season with the team.
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2007 Probable Starters:
C:
Kelly Schumacher
PF:
Tangela Smith
SF:
Diana Taurasi
SG:
Cappie Pondexter
PG:
Kelly Miller
2007 Draft Results:
Rd. 2:
Tyresa Smith
Rd. 3:
Leah Rush
Rd. 3:
Chrissy Givens
Rd. 3:
Emily Westerberg
2006 Leaders:
Points
Diana Taurasi, 25.3 ppg
Rebs.
Kamila Vodichkova, 6.7 rpg
Assts.
Diana Taurasi, 4.1 apg
Blocks
Sandora Irvin, 1.1 bpg
Steals
Penny Taylor, 1.5 spg
Phoenix Mercury: 2007 Preview

COMING BACK


Taurasi
The Mercury finished off the 2006 season with a seven-game win streak to complete the year with an 18-16 record. They were the top offensive team in the league, thanks largely to their "Paul ball" approach (after head coach Paul Westhead), scoring at a clip of 87.1 ppg, an all-time WNBA best.

The match that lit the fire last season was All-WNBA First Team player and All-Star Diana Taurasi. She led both her team and the league in points, averaging 25.3 per game. The shooting guard also compiled 4.1 assists per game which placed her top on her team and fifth in the league.

Complementing Taurasi's outstanding offensive play was rookie teammate Cappie Pondexter. The second pick in the 2006 draft, Pondexter has lived up to the hype that surrounded her when she came out of Rutgers, averaging 19.5 ppg, good for fifth in the league, and earning a spot on the Western Conference All-Star Team.

Veteran point guard Kelly Miller will also return this season. She was third prong in the Mercury's offensive juggernaut, averaging 11.0 ppg, 5.3 rpg and 3.5 apg.


Pondexter
Also returning will be the explosive Penny Taylor, who, though she played only 20 games after arriving late in Phoenix from her native Australia, averaged 13.9 ppg and 5.6 rpg in nearly 28 minutes a contest. Key reserves Jennifer Lacy, Belinda Snell and Jen Derevjanik will all return as well.

NOT COMING BACK

Two 2006 starters, Kamila Vodichkova and Kristen Rasmussen, will not suit up for Phoenix in 2007. Vodichkova is out for the season due to pregnancy. Last year she averaged 9.7 ppg and led the team in rebounds with 6.7 a game. However, it is her intense defense that the Mercury will most sorely miss this season.

Rasmussen, a forward, signed a free agent deal with the Connecticut Sun in the offseason. The loss of these two players will have the Mercury hunting for a new presence in the post.

Neither Ann Strother nor Bridget Pettis will be returning for Phoenix this year. Strother was dealt to Indiana in the offseason and Pettis has retired to become an assistant with the Merc. Also, Kayte Christensen signed a free agent deal with Chicago and Sandora Irvin was traded to San Antonio. None of them saw much playing time last season, but they did provide some depth off the bench.

ADDITIONS


Smith
After lucking into the No. 1 overall pick in the 2007 WNBA Draft, the Mercury snatched Duke's Lindsey Harding. Minutes later, though, they traded her to Minnesota for veteran post Tangela Smith, after the Lynx had chosen Smith in the recent Charlotte Sting Dispersal Draft. Smith averaged 13.1 points, 5.1 rebounds and almost a block a game in 2006, and at 6-4, the Mercury will look to her to be a strong defender and solid presence in the paint.

Joining Smith in the desert will be former Sting teammate Kelly Mazzante, who the Mercury selected with their own pick in the Dispersal Draft. A strong shooter from 3-point land, Mazzante will see plenty of minutes in the Mercury's run-and-gun offense.

Just prior to the draft, the Mercury also picked up former Liberty center Kelly Schumacher, and in the Strother trade with Indiana, the Mercury also picked up center Olympia Scott. The two veterans will add some much-needed size and strength in hopes of resolving the team's defensive inefficiencies.

Other additions include rookies Tyresa Smith, Leah Rush and Chrissy Givens, all of whom were chosen in the second and third rounds of the draft. They will most likely come off the bench and provide flexibility for Coach Westhead.

OUTLOOK

Watch out for the Phoenix Mercury. Their offense has been incredible, and there's no reason to think that's going to change, especially with scorers like Taurasi, Pondexter, Miller and Taylor. How far this squad goes will depend on Westhead's ability to get his troops to play defense. The team may need to slow down slightly on the offensive end in order to concentrate on defending. If the team can step up the D, the Mercury has a chance to rise to the top of the Western Conference.

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