With the All-Star Break Over, It's Time to Get Back to Business

Diana Taurasi (center) and the Phoenix Mercury are ready to fight for the Western Conference title with the WNBA resuming regular season play today after the All-Star break. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

As Diana Taurasi and Penny Taylor packed up after the All-Star game to catch a flight home, Taurasi tossed out farewells to her fellow Western Conference All-Star teammate.

"Hey Minnesota!" she hollered in the direction of Seimone Augustus, Rebekkah Brunson, Maya Moore and Lindsay Whalen. "Lose a few games, will ya?"

Augustus gave a little shake of her head and a chuckle as the Phoenix pair raced to catch their flight. It's obviously time to get back to business in the WNBA.

During the all-star festivities, many players were focused on more than the break, but also on the remaining half of the 2011 season. For some, like San Antonio rookie Danielle Adams, the mood is optimistic and the hope is for two national championships in a span of one calendar year.

"It's been an amazing year for me. To come off the national championship, getting drafted by San Antonio and now having the awesome career I'm having to start off with, I mean it's all amazing," Adams said at all-star practice. "It's all a blessing from God and I'm just going to continue doing what I'm doing, work hard and just try to bring San Antonio a championship.

"We started off great and then we got off to a slump, but we're just going to continue to keep working hard and just keep doing what we're doing. Hopefully the outcome will come great."

Adams' teammate and fellow all-star Becky Hammon is also ready to make a run in the West.

"Going forward as a team we just want to keep getting better and better," Hammon remarked after the game. "Hopefully I'm just going to do my best, whatever I can do to get this team in a position towards the end of the year to where we want to be - sitting in the playoffs with a good position. That's where we want to be. It's really not about me in the long run, it's about the Stars and what we're doing, doing something special together."

A guard in the East with ties to the West, Courtney Vandersloot, is ready to get rocking back in Chicago.

"I think we're young, especially at the guard spot, so we're still learning and it's been an adjustment," Vandersloot said. "It's been hard for us I think. We expect a lot more than what we're doing right now and so that's been tough. But you know I think we have a lot to look forward to and a lot of season left.

"Playing for Pokey - she's a great coach to play for, especially in the point guard position. She understands better than anybody else I think so she's not trying to put any extra pressure on me, so that's helpful. I think the pressure that is on me is the pressure that I put on myself. I expect a lot from myself."

Even rookies that aren't playing for playoff spots like Adams and Vandersloot are feel the pressure to perform. Just ask Tulsa Shock rookie Liz Cambage.

"Maybe when I go into game I put a lot of pressure on myself," Cambage said after her first all-star game. "I feel like sometimes it turns into such a job, basketball, and it's good to get out there and have some fun."

The break and the fun have energized Cambage, though, who said the weekend was a rejuvenating force to prepare her for the second half of the season. In fact she's planning a win on Tuesday, so if it indeed happens when the Dream meet the Shock, Ms. Cambage called it.

The defending champions are also feeling a little pressure after starting the season in a different fashion than last year's title run. The Storm are 8-7 this year, and seven-loss mark was never even reached in the duration of their 35-6 2010 season that included three playoff series sweeps.

"Seattle," Swin Cash started with a pause after the all-star game, "we had a rough start obviously in the first half ... Now the focus shifts to Seattle and to getting into the playoffs and then making a run.

"We're definitely not down. I think if anything we're looking at the upside. I don't think we've played our best basketball yet ... We've only scratched the surface. I think a lot of people are going to be surprised with the second half of basketball we are going to play."

And their best basketball is what it's going to take in a conference where the top four spots are separated by just 2.5 games.

"The west is a grind," Hammon said. "Every night you're going very good teams and if you play bad, you're going to lose. That's the bottom line in this league. The teams have gotten so good that if you don't perform well, you're probably going to lose."

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