“It’s been a really good week,” Sandy Brondello said, as training camp nearly comes to a close. “They’ve worked hard. The energy and effort has been consistent. We have a lot of new faces but we’ve managed to put a lot in.”
It’s hard to believe, but the Mercury will open their 2015 season exactly two weeks from today on June 5. They’ll travel to Seattle on Tuesday, May 26 for their first preseason game against the Storm followed by their only home preseason game at US Airways Center on Thursday, May 28 against the Storm as well.
Nevertheless, in an intense, compact week we’ve managed to learn a lot about this year’s Mercury:
The Mercury’s Identity will be Defensive-Based
This shouldn’t surprise anyone.
In fact, it’s exactly what Sandy Brondello said from the moment she accepted the Mercury’s head coaching position. The Mercury base everything they do off of their aggressive defense, and they’ll need to take it to another level this year without Diana Taurasi and Brittney Griner (for a few games).
Look for Monique Currie to be the team’s defensive stopper along the perimeter, and for DeWanna Bonner to continue to build upon her impressive effort on that end of the floor in 2015.
Cayla Francis Will Help Space the Floor
As I’ve mentioned before, Cayla Francis’ game has a few similarities to that of former Mercury star Tangela Smith. Francis has a stellar outside shot and the ability to consistently hit from beyond the arc, which obviously stretches opposing defenses out.
Thus, if/when guards like Leilani Mitchell penetrate and the defense collapses, they’ll have additional space to create as well as scoring threats from the perimeter. Along with Francis, Shameka Christon has nailed the three-point shot consistently in camp.
DeWanna Bonner and Candice Dupree’s Leadership Roles Have Increased
“I knew coming into camp that I would be needed to step up as a leader,” Candice Dupree said after her first practice with the Mercury this season.
She and DeWanna Bonner have done exactly that and much more.
“We know what to expect and as veterans we have to set the tone,” Bonner added. “We’ve put a lot in this week and just need to develop chemistry as quickly as we can, but I think everyone is giving it their all.”
Indeed, when they are on the floor, Dupree and Bonner inspire confidence throughout the entire team. They’ve also been noticeably more vocal. With so many new faces, their familiarity with Brondello’s system should enhance the entire team’s stability on the court.
The Mercury Will Be Scrappy
I mean that in the best way possible.
This year’s squad is a unique mix of youth and veterans that all have something to prove. And when a team is united under that philosophy, it typically yields an incredibly fun style of basketball that is easy to root for.
“One thing I’ve noticed is that we are all committed,” Noelle Quinn said. “We’re committed to playing as hard as we can every single day. Each player feels that way.
“To have that mentality early on is a really good sign.”