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Griner scored 18 points on 6-10 shooting, grabbed six boards, and had a block, assist, and a steal as the Phoenix Mercury defeated Team Japan, 87-64.
In addition, DeWanna Bonner, Candice Dupree, and Krystal Thomas also scored in double figures for Phoenix. Diana Tauarsi scored 7 points on 2-6 shooting. For Japan, three players scored in double figures.
Though this is a tuneup match, in the box scores, the 2nd quarter was a very low scoring affair with Japan scoring 11 and the Mercury scoring 8. There were two stretches when neither team could score for nearly two minutes if not a little longer...
Next Monday, the Mercury will host its home opener vs. the Chicago Sky in a matchup between the aforementioned Griner and the Sky's Elena Delle Donne, who is the 2nd pick of the 2013 Draft.
I'm actually pretty excited that the season is FINALLY starting this weekend. Hope you all are too.
Nice story about the old guard and new guard.
Phoenix hits the national airwaves at least six times this year, five times more than four WNBA teams.
As we put out in a FanShot last week, Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner told Sports Illustrated in an interview that she is gay. One of the most notable things about it wasn't about Griner coming out in and of itself, but also the fact that she said it in a confident and matter of fact way.
Here's a link from the AP via Fox News yesterday. Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner, Tulsa Shock guard Skylar Diggins, and Chicago Sky forward Elena Delle Donne discuss on past experiences with being bullied when they were children, and they also would like to be on a FIBA 3x3 team for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janiero, Brazil if such an event is approved. I'd love to see them play together if this comes to fruition!
Most of the interview centers on Griner's plans on the impact she'd like to make on the Mercury; how this 2013 Draft Class could be like the quarterbacks in the 2012 NFL Draft class which include Robert Griffin III, Andrew Luck, and Russell Wilson; how she's going to work with franchise star Diana Taurasi; and about her fandom for Jimi Hendrix.
And if you're wondering about the Mark Cuban talk and about whether she'd join an NBA Summer League Team, here's a quote:
First talk it over with the Mercury. First things first, I want to be there with my new team and take care of all that first. The WNBA, that’s where my heart lies, so they’re not going to steal me away from the WNBA at all. Everybody thinks I’m going to leave the Mercury or leave the WNBA, and I’m not.
Safe to say that she's in Phoenix for the whole season.
To check out on more Mercury transactions and news, follow our StoryStream.
Here's a video from yesterday with the Phoenix Mercury rookie which also includes Chicago Sky forward Elena Delle Donne, and Tulsa Shock guard Skylar Diggins. While sexuality was part of the interview, most of it focused on the anticipation of this season, and also the progression of women's sports.
A selection of comments from Baylor center Brittney Griner during an interview and the press conference after being selected first overall in the 2013 WNBA Draft.
The Mercury selected Penn State center Nikki Greene with the 26th pick over in the WNBA Draft.
She was included in this morning's post about centers and she had the best offensive rebounding percentage of any center major center in this draft.
Wows: Griner is an extremely efficient scorer all year and figures to make a major impact as a scorer right away. That she has become such an efficient ball handler is an equally significant accomplishment as she is well-positioned to learn how to adjust to double teams.
Wonders: How much does her average offensive rebounding rate matter? It hasn't mattered much for centers in the past, but it has been the one major question for her throughout her careeer.
Worries: Strength and her ability to guard players in space in pick-and-roll situations or switches. Obviously these are things she can improve but they did affect her game at times in college.
Yesterday, guard/forward DeWanna Bonner re-signed a multi-year contract with the Phoenix Mercury. Bonner was one of the WNBA's top restricted free agents in the 2012-2013 offseason.
Bonner was the WNBA's Sixth Woman of the Year for three seasons from 2009-2011 and helped the Mercury win the 2009 Finals over the Indiana Fever. In 2012, Bonner was the team's primary offensive option due to injuries to other stars on the team, including Diana Taurasi, Penny Taylor, and Candice Dupree. By enjoying a prominent role on the team, DeWanna averaged career highs in scoring (20.6), rebounds (7.2), assists (2.2), and steals (1.7) per game.
Mercury Head Coach and General Manager Corey Gaines had this to say on her signing:
DeWanna is a superstar in this league. Last year we saw her true abilities as a playmaker and leader of our team. She can score the ball from anywhere on the court and create mismatches with anyone we play. No one in the WNBA has a player like DB.
While it certainly was a protracted wait for Mercury fans to see whether a key free agent would return given her skill set, Bonner's re-signing is a much needed boost not only because her addition would make this team a potential favorite for the 2013 Western Conference championship if not better, but also because she would be one of the key members in a younger core for the Mercury, which include guard Samantha Prahalis, and a yet-to-be-named rookie with the 1st pick in the 2013 Draft, who will be officially named this Monday.
The Phoenix Mercury, the team with the first pick in the 2013 Draft has a huge Draft Central page which can be accessed here. You can read more on the "Big Three," past number one picks, and other draft prospect related analysis, at least from the perspective of a Mercury fan.
The fun part is the Mock Draft section which includes one from our boss, Nate. Take a look at his picks here. In addition, Kevin Pelton of ESPN, Odeen Domingo of the Arizona Republic, Doug Feinberg of the AP, David Siegel of hoopfeed.com, and Al Bravo of the AP also created mock drafts.
We'll cut to the chase here. The top three for everyone except Al Bravo was Griner-Delle Donne-Diggins from first to third. Bravo had the second pick going to Diggins and with Delle Donne going to Tulsa at third.
At the fourth pick, things get interesting.
Nate has the Washington Mystics selecting a guard, Tayler Hill of Ohio State at the fourth pick given the need to add guards, which I have noted, since there needs to be immediate help there. But the other mock drafts had post players Tianna Hawkins of Maryland (Pelton and Feinberg) and Kelsey Bone of Texas A&M (Domingo and Siegel) going to DC. Bravo had Syracuse center Kayla Alexander as the fourth pick.
With four different players tabbed as possible #4 picks, the Mystics seem to have a very tough task. With the exception of Swish Appeal where we believe the Mystics will end up picking a guard, most of the other guys think that they should pick a post, which would only add to an already current imbalance between perimeter and interior depth on the team.
UPDATE at 3:10 PM ET, April 11, 2013 - H/T to blackandgoldforever who found that the Mercury updated the draft site.
Check out this ESPN article on the Phoenix Mercury offering free tickets to men for this season in the hope that at least some will become WNBA fans later on. (H/T to blackandgoldforever)
Some WNBA teams at least in the league's infancy have offered such perks just to drive fans in the building. Former Washington Mystics owner Abe Pollin did that and as a result the team had the largest WNBA crowds for a number of years. After Ted Leonsis bought the team in 2005 and the rest of the ownership stake in Verizon Center in 2010, he has not been so keen on giving tickets away for free because doing so devalues the product. As critical of the Mystics and the Wizards as I have been at times, I fully agree with Ted that no product should just be given away for free in and of itself.
In DC, if a complimentary Mystics ticket is given to a Wizards or Capitals season ticket holder I wouldn't feel like the product is totally devalued because the season ticket holder is already paying Monumental Sports money so the "complimentary ticket" has been paid for with that money. Season tickets aren't just tickets. They also have events and other things that are "free of charge" but are built into the cost of those tickets. Also once something is free, even if it's a nosebleed ticket, people may just wait for more "free tickets," and if many folks who do take up on this offer like the product, they still may not buy tickets and just wait for the next free offer.
Going back to Phoenix, when you also add that the Mercury already has some strong veteran talent in Diana Taurasi and Penny Taylor, along with a rookie star to be named this season PLUS a young core featuring Sammy Prahalis and Krystal Thomas, I'm pretty sure that the Mercury shouldn't even have to resort to giving away its product for free to those who have no true financial ties to the Phoenix Suns organization. People will want to see and pay to see that team, at least for that rookie star if nothing else.
Update at 10:25 PM ET, March 15: While the Man Up Challenge is intended mostly for men, women who also don't care for the WNBA are also welcome to be in it and get a free single game ticket: Here's a tweet from the Mercury so you know:
Still most of my comment below stands since I wouldn't be surprised that the team would go ahead and give women who "feel skeptical about the WNBA" a game to showcase their product.
Today, the Seattle Storm announced the signing of Nakia Sanford to a contract.
The Phoenix Mercury had a rough season in 2012, going 7-27 and ended up being the worst team in the Western Conference. Most of it was due to injuries to the team's best players, starting with Penny Taylor who suffered a knee injury during the previous offseason. In addition, Candice Dupree and their best player, Diana Taurasi also missed over half the season's games. The Mercury was the big winner of the 2013 WNBA Draft Lottery, ending up with the number one overall pick. With everyone hopefully healthy along with the number one pick for this year's draft, can the Mercury make a 180 for 2013 and be the best team in the West?
Today, USA Basketball named Phoenix Mercury guard Diana Taurasi as its female athlete of 2012. Taurasi was the leading scorer for the Americans and led them to an Olympic Gold Medal finish in the London Games. It was also the fifth consecutive Gold Medal for Team USA.