After two preseason losses to the Storm, and a bad loss Saturday, Mercury coach Sandy Brondello said the team will have a lot to work on in the week leading up to the regular season.
“Today was terrible, really,” Brondello said about Saturday’s 84-61 home loss. “I mean, we just didn’t bring the effort, so that’s disappointing being a preseason game. We have this week to get ready, we play on Friday. So, we’ve got a lot of stuff to work on.”
The Mercury host the WNBA’s lone game on opening night, Friday, May 18. The matchup with the Dallas Wings starts at 7 p.m. Mountain Standard Time at Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix.
Saturday’s loss was neck-and-neck until Seattle outscored Phoenix 32-12 in the fourth quarter.
The Mercury lost a closer game in Seattle on Tuesday, May 8 with stars Diana Taurasi and Brittney Griner sitting. The Storm won 73-69.
Brondello said looking back at the tape of Saturday’s 21-point loss will help the team play to it’s potential.
“That will help. You know, easy to show we need to go out and pick it up at both ends of the floor,” Brondello said. “I think we weren’t very cohesive at all. But we know we can be better, and we know we’re better. And we have to go back and just work on the things we need to, which is a lot at the moment.”
The highlight of Saturday’s loss was a one-handed dunk from Griner after driving down the lane. She raised both hands and snapped while backpedaling down the court to pump up the crowd. In her only preseason appearance, last season’s league leader in points per game had a team-high 14 points plus seven rebounds in 21 minutes of play.
Newly-acquired point guard Briann January, a former Arizona State great who took an assisting coaching position with the Sun Devils in the offseason, sat out the second half Saturday after starting. Brondello said January tweaked her shoulder and she rested her as a precaution.
“Just a little issue with the shoulder, we didn’t want to risk it too much. So, she’ll be fine,” Brondello said.
Leilani Mitchell, third on the team in scoring in 2017, and second-round draft pick Raisa Musina didn’t play in the preseason and will rejoin the Mercury this week before the regular season.
Earlier this month the Mercury extended Mitchell’s contract through 2020.
Yvonne Turner also did not play in the preseason due to a calf injury.
“Turner has a little injury, so we’re holding her back until she’s ready,” Brondello said.
Musina may be held back initially to allow her to rest from her playing time in Russia.
“She needs a little time to heal, so she may not play the first game either, but we’ll let her heal and get her ready. Because we need her,” Brondello said.
Brondello and the rest of the staff will have some tough choices to make this week. They’ll have to cut the roster down from 15 to 12 by 2 p.m. Mountain Standard Time Thursday, May 17.
The team already waived 2018 second-round pick from Rutgers Tyler Scaife in April and waived offseason signings Chelsea Nelson and Chatrice White Friday, May 11.
After playing their entire short preseason against Seattle, the Mercury will be seeing more of the Storm this month. Two of the teams’ three matchups are in May. The Mercury play their second game of the year in Seattle, Sunday, May 20. Phoenix will then turn around to host the Storm three days later, Wednesday, May 23.
Return of the Wings
The Mercury also opened the 2017 season by hosting the Wings. Dallas won that matchup 68-58. However, the Mercury struck back two weeks later with their largest victory in franchise history, beating the Wings 107-65 at home. The Mercury also won at Dallas later in the year to take the season series 2-1.