Mercury can't live beyond arc all season
Sports UpdateMercury can't live beyond arc all season
By Brad Falduto, Tribune
It was midway through the first half and the Mercury were struggling to score Tuesday night against the Houston Comets at America West Arena. Then the barrage from long range began.First Anna DeForge hit a 3-pointer. Diana Taurasi followed with another. Penny Taylor was next and Shereka Wright followed her. By the end of the first half, the Mercury hit eight 3-pointers in all and they led 34-29.
The long-range shooting was too much for Houston to overcome and the Mercury, who play at Seattle tonight, cruised to a 73-63 victory to raise their record to 3-1, good enough to put them alone atop the WNBA's Western Conference.
After the game, though, Mercury coach Carrie Graf was a bit concerned. Graf knows there is an unwritten rule in basketball that if you live by the 3-pointer, you eventually will die by it. For every night you are hot from the outside, there may be a night you are cold.
"We can hit the perimeter shot," said Graf, "but we need to get it inside as well."
If the Mercury have a glaring weakness thus far, it is their inability to pound the ball inside. That is why Graf said the team has "a long, long way to go."
In that regard, Graf is starting to play reserve 6-foot-4 center Slobodanka Tuvic a lot more. Tuvic missed most of training camp because she was playing in Italy and started the season playing little. She averaged only 8.5 minutes per game through the first three games, but she logged 18 minutes against Houston before fouling out. Most of her minutes came courtesy of starting center Adrian Williams, who has done little this season and played just eight minutes against Houston.
"We need to have balance," said Graf.
That will be particularly important tonight because it seems harder to hit long shots on the road. The Mercury also will have to tighten up inside defensively. Last week in an 84-76 victory over Seattle at America West, Storm center Lauren Jackson, last season's WNBA MVP, scored 20 points. You can bet she will be fired up to pay back the Mercury with a huge game.
This will be the fourth time the two teams will have met this season. They split two preseason games before last week's game.
BONUS SHOTS: Houston coach Van Chancellor, who will lead the U.S. Olympic team in August in Greece, came away very impressed with his newest team member, Taurasi. "I think she's a great player," said Chancellor. "She makes a lot of things happen. I mean a lot of things. I mean a lot of great things." . . .
The Mercury play at Minnesota Saturday (5 p.m. Arizona time). They return to America West to face Connecticut at noon on Wednesday.