Note by Phoenix Stan, 06/03/09 4:07 PM MST ]
The Mercury announced that they waived three players today: Allison Bales, Laurie Koehn and Sha Brooks.
I didn't see that coming. I expected one of those three to stay.
This leaves one open roster spot to be filled by the 5th of June. Actually, I don't know for sure that they have to fill that spot by opening day just that they can't have more then 11 after the 5th. The Suns avoided signing their 12th player to their roster by waiting the max two weeks at several points during the season.
The Mercury might do the same and hold off as long as they can if in fact they are required to have 11 on the roster. They might be waiting for the return of Penny Taylor or it could mean the Mercury are looking at a player that's already been waived by another team.
[Note by Phoenix Stan, 06/03/09 4:32 PM MST ]
Ok, that didn't take long:
PHOENIX - The Phoenix Mercury today announced the acquisition of guard Ketia Swanier. Swanier, known for her speed as a ball-handler, will join team workouts on Thursday, June 3.
Originally selected by the Connecticut Sun in the first round (12th overall) of the 2008 WNBA Draft, Swanier appeared in 25 games during her rookie campaign, making six starts. She posted averages of 1.6 points, 1.2 rebounds and 1.0 assists in 9.2 minutes last season. This year the 5-8, 150-pound guard appeared in all three Sun preseason games before being waived on June 1.
"I was impressed by Ketia last season in her ability to push the ball up the court," said Head Coach Corey Gaines. "She came from a great collegiate program, and her style of play fits our system well."
A 2008 graduate of the University of Connecticut, Swanier earned the inaugural BIG EAST Sixth Man of the Year Award as a senior after leading the conference with a 2.10 assist to turnover ratio. She finished her collegiate career as the only player in school history to rank among the top 10 career leaders in games played (142), assists (479) and steals (247).
The Mercury today announced they waived last year's back up point guard, Yuko "Shin" Oga. This isn't a big surprise as the team is already loaded with ball handlers and shooters.
I was however, surprised to learn that she had been playing injured. Although I had seen her hand wrapped since the start of training camp, I didn't know that she fractured her left wrist while playing in Japan in February and had required surgery. Apparently, she hasn't fully recovered.
"Yuko showed a lot of heart in the way she tried to fight through the pain that she's been suffering during training camp," said Head Coach Corey Gaines. "As camp progressed, the pain returned and she was unable to play to her potential. Despite the incredible job her doctors did on the surgery, she's unable to participate in full contact basketball at this time and needs to return home to fully recover."
With 11 year veteran forward Murriel Page already waived due to a torn Achilles tendon, the Mercury are down to 13 players in camp. They will make two additional cuts by Friday, June 5th.
Page will remain in Phoenix for her rehab and said that the window for her return is 3 to 6 months. She's hoping that if everything goes well that she might be able to play again this season although that would have to be considered a remote possibility at this point.
With two more roster cuts to make, Coach Gaines will be focused on five players: Brooke Smith, Allie Quiqley, Laurie Koehn, Allison Bales and 3rd round pick Sha Brooks.
Of these, Smith and Quiqley both played for the Mercury last season and have shown, in my opinion, more developed and well-rounded games. That leaves the 6'7" Bales, the sharp shooting Koehn and the rookie point guard, Brooks.
Even with the loss of Shin, Brooks seems to be a long shot to make the team. She's a young player who needs more work although Gaines could decide to keep her in case Tameka Johnson goes down.
Bales bring a lot of size and interior presence and was a real game changer in the pre-seaon match with the Storm. The Mercury were getting killed in the paint for the first three quarters of that game but were even in the fourth with Bales playing the full 10 minutes. Interior play, rebounding and defense has been a weakness of this team and Bales would certainly address that. Of course, I am always going to be biased toward post players that can control the paint. I like that type of game.
Unfortunately, Allison struggles to run the floor at the pace the Mercury like to play. With the return of Nicole Ohlde (who is a faster player at the center position) Bales may very well find herself looking for a spot on another roster.
Laurie Koehn is a great outside shooter who can put up points in a hurry. The 4 year vet, is a career 45% from behind the arc but has only averaged 2.5 points in just over 5 minutes per game.
Between Bales and Koehn, it's a classic offense vs. defense situation and the decision that Gaines and Mercury make this week will say a lot about the focus of the team. Then again, I could be totally off base and both or neither might be on the roster for Saturday's home opener.
Tameka Johnson was on the sidelines at today's practice with her ankle wrapped and iced. The team trainer said she was sore from being overworked and that they didn't anticipate her missing any time but they would continue to evaluate the ankle this week.
On a lighter note, the team held a Shooting with the Mercury event for the local media after practice. I was fortunate enough to be paired with another sharp shooter, Ben York from Fanster.com and the league's second leading scorer, Cappie Pondexter.
While Cappie and Ben were great in the shooting competition, I made just enough shots for us to earn the win, beating out teams from the local TV stations. Victory for the little guys.
Good thing for us though that Paul Coro was on vacation this week. I hear that guy can ball. And far be it from me to knock another guy's shooting abilities, but let's just say there's a couple of local TV personalities that could stand to spend some time with a ball in their hands instead of a microphone.
It was fun to get out on the main floor of USAC and shoot some hoops and the players were all good sports about it. Best of all though was winning. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise, winning matters and we won a nice little trophy and court side seats to a Mercury game.
I may give those seats away in some kind of Mercury related contest if I can come up with an idea worthy of court side seats. Otherwise, I might just have my wife and daughter use them if there's no interest here.
Speaking of which, if anyone is interested, I have a 50% off voucher for two or more tickets to Saturday's home opener against the team from San Antonio. The crowd should be pretty fired up for this one.