Gaines Not Pushing Panic Button Over Mercury Lapses

By Matt Paulson,
May 22, 2008

With the Mercury having to wait until the end of training camp for most of their top players to report, there were concerns over a possible lack of cohesiveness in the first few weeks of the season.

For the most part, Phoenix hasnt played like a team out of sync. But the few possessions in which it has done so have been the difference between winning and losing.

In the opener against Los Angeles, missed assignments on blockouts in the final minutes hurt. On Tuesday in San Antonio, poor offensive execution proved costly.

We had a lot of turnovers on the fast break, and we had a couple offensive fouls, which is really like shooting yourself in the foot, coach Corey Gaines said of Tuesdays game.

The results have been a pair of five-point losses which Phoenix believes could have easily been victories. Even though the Mercury have never made the postseason after an 0-2 start, Gaines is far from hitting the panic button.

Its just a couple minor things (we need to work on) and hitting another shot here and there, he said. Its not like were getting blown out by 20. Weve had one practice (with everyone here) so far.

Five of the teams top six players didnt start arriving from overseas until a week and a half before the season opener, and its top two players didnt report until the day before (Diana Taurasi) and the day of (Cappie Pondexter) its first game.

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I hate to keep saying it over and over again, but they just got back, Gaines said. Its just a little difficult to get your bearings. (Taurasi, Pondexter and Kelly Miller) came off championship series, then had to travel and try to make (moving) arrangements. Its not normal.

The Mercury have also had to work in several new faces to the leagues most unique offense. While Phoenix returns four of its starters, its bench is almost entirely new.

Everyone says, Yeah, but youve got the same team back from last year. No we dont, Gaines said. Were missing six players and one of them is one of the top five in the world (Penny Taylor). Its a little bit different.

The schedule makers didnt give Phoenix much time to develop that cohesion at the start the season. The Mercury will play their third game in six days today vs. Seattle, the third straight top-tier opponent.

COPYRIGHT 2008, EAST VALLEY TRIBUNE. Used with permission.