Interview: Phoenix Mercury preview with SB Nation’s Kristofer Habbas

May 17, 2012 3:02pm

Kristofer Habbas covers the Phoenix Mercury for SB Nation Arizona. He has been covering basketball for the past few years with Dime Magazine and shared his thoughts on Coach Corey Gaines’ fast-paced team from the Valley of the Sun. In his SB Nation season preview, Kristofer discusses how this year’s Mercury team, “with plenty of talent and new faces… will be one of the most interesting years in franchise history.”

Discuss the state of this offense without all-star Penny Taylor this season:

Offensively this team is going to struggle to replace Penny Taylor. They brought in Charde Houston to help some on the wing, but they have very little interior scoring with the current roster.  Alexis Gray-Lawson, and Houston will be adequate scorers on the perimeter to compliment Diana Taurasi. Plenty of options on the perimeter for scorers. The interior is another question, and the roster is not set yet to determine what options they will have down there.

What kind of impact can rookie Samantha Prahalis make? Do you think she can handle the PG position for an entire game?

Samantha Prahalis is a very talented passer and is gifted in the way she sees the floor, especially in transition. The running style of the Mercury will help her a lot in the transition from college to the WNBA. Her clear lack of strength will be a challenge for Coach Gaines to keep her on the floor. She was the smallest player on the court in the teams scrimmage against the Japanese National Team, and by a lot. With Gray-Lawson, and even the injured Alexis Hornbuckle on the team Prahalis will not need to play like an All-WNBA player this year.

Any players that will surprise this year or you expect improvement from?

Alexis Gray-Lawson will have a terrific year in the place of Penny Taylor. She is a scoring guard with great natural instincts. A lot of pressure can be taken off Diana Taurasi if she takes her game to the next level. Her scoring will allow Taurasi to be a play-maker at times and even run the point at times. Look for Gray-Lawson to make an impact as a scorer and potentially even a starter for this team.

Coach Gaines talked about wanting his team to push the pace even more after their first preseason game. Might we see an even faster paced Mercury team this season?

This team will run a lot this year – out of necessity. As mentioned a few times before this is not a big, talented team. Arguably the four to five best players on this team are perimeter oriented. Look for the Mercury to run and run often, which will highlight the team’s best assets, their guards.


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