No one I spoke with (including my own internal discussions) thought undrafted, undersized Taylor Lilley from Oregon would make the final Mercury roster. Smart money was on the taller, more experienced Lenae Williams to fill the bench sharp-shooter role.
Of course, our own Q McCall hinted at Lilley's chances way back in March:
While Lilley could certainly make a roster on an uptempo team looking for a three point threat, the fact that UW was able to adjust to her means that WNBA competition would eventually do so as well. Of course, there might be an uptempo team out there that a coach with WNBA championship experience like Westhead might have prepared her pretty well for.
Asked how she made the final cut, Lilley told Swish Appeal that her familiarity with the system was a big edge, "With the kind of system that they're running it's very up-tempo, fast break, go go go. It's very similar to the style of play at Oregon. I think that really helped me out a lot, just having the knowledge of sprinting the lanes every single time and just getting out there and doing all the little things."
When your college coach is the same Paul Westhead who coached Corey Gaines back in 80's and the same Paul Westhead who installed his "go go go" system with the Mercury and lead them to a ring in 2007 and the same Paul Westhead who brought Gaines to Phoenix and turned the head coaching gig over to him....well, you can see where Lilley might have an edge.
That's not to say that Lilley doesn't have game. Her biggest advantage according to Gaines is her versatility. Corey said she can play the 1, 2 or 3 in practice and in game situations can provide a spark off the bench with her energy and shooting.
Lilley generally has played the off-ball guard position in her career but considers herself capable of playing point as well. She sees herself an underrated defender who, "likes to get after it" on that end of the floor. In the limited time I've seen her play she does seem to be scrappy.
Talyor was excited about making the cut saying that playing in the WNBA has been a dream since she was a little girl.
Sequoia Holmes and Brooke Smith
One of the other two roster spots went to returning bench big, Brooke Smith. With Ashley Paris being waived a few days ago, Brooke's spot seemed secure. Paris, unfortunately suffered a sprained ankle in camp which couldn't have helped her chances to steal a spot from an incumbent on a team that values continuity.
Sequoia Holmes will come off the bench as an energy wing defender using her athleticism and long arms to disrupt the opponents' offense. After sitting out last season - Holmes was originally drafted by the Houston Comets in 2008 - she is excited to be on the team and feels that her hard work preparing for camp paid off. Coming into a Mercury training camp in top shape is a must for players hoping to make the cut.
Holmes said she's been welcomed by the team's vets but understands that she will need to earn their respect on the court.
Nicole Ohlde is a game time decision to the season opener on Saturday (hamstring, severe blister).
Penny Talyor arrived in Phoenix late Thursday night and is scheduled to get her physical today and is scheduled to play against the Sparks. I would expect her minutes to be somewhat limited with more time going to DeWanna Bonner.
2010 PHOENIX MERCURY ROSTER
24 DeWanna Bonner G/F 6-4 140 08/21/1987 1 Auburn ‘09
4 Candice Dupree F 6-2 173 08/16/1984 4 Temple ‘06
17 Sequoia Holmes G/F 6-1 161 06/13/1986 1 UNLV ‘08
2 Temeka Johnson G 5-3 144 09/06/1982 5 Louisiana State ‘05
23 Taylor Lilley G 5-6 130 02/29/1988 R Oregon ‘10
30 Nicole Ohlde F/C 6-5 187 03/13/1982 6 Kansas State ‘04
21 Brooke Smith F/C 6-3 184 04/30/1984 2 Stanford ‘07
50 Tangela Smith F/C 6-3 158 04/01/1977 12 Iowa ‘98
11 Ketia Swanier G 5-7 150 08/10/1986 2 Connecticut ‘08
3 Diana Taurasi G 6-0 165 06/11/1982 6 Connecticut ‘04
13 Penny Taylor F 6-1 163 05/24/1981 8 Australia
HEAD COACH: Corey Gaines (Loyola Marymount)
ASSISTANT COACH: Julie Hairgrove (Arizona)
DIRECTOR OF BASKETBALL OPERATIONS: Bridget Pettis (Florida)
ATHLETIC TRAINER: Tamara Poole (Cal. State-Dominguez Hills)