In a lot of ways the last two seasons were filled the most disappointing moments in a long while for the Phoenix Mercury and at the same time the most important for what is coming next... The potential for a dynasty to emerge from the tilled soil of years past.
This is a team that is working on their third head coach in less than a calendar year.
This is a team filled with a handful of dominate personalities.
This is a team that has to establish an identity before conversations of being the best team in the WNBA.
That mistake was made by nearly every member of the media and the team alike last year assuming individual talents could replace the concept of the "whole" which makes a great team. By no means were the Mercury a great team last year, but rather a team that underachieved and then found a way to underachieve.
Listening to the leaders of the team now, a year later, there seems to be a better sense of self-awareness that was missing last year. Diana Taurasi will not say the word "Championship" right now. It is banned. Brittney Griner exhaled a giant sigh of relief when asked about the lack of pressure on her (and the team) this year compared to last year. It is remarkably different when you look year-over-year the pressure laid on Griner and this team entering the 2013 season. It is nearly nonexistent now.
New head coach Sandy Brondello helps with that. She is the first Mercury head coach with WNBA (or women's basketball) experience in a long while. She has coached in this conference. She has coached Taurasi. She has coached this game at the highest levels.
Overall the team is the same loose, carefree, group that they always are. Joking and laughing there way through the arena for Media Day taking pictures, doing interviews, and playing with silly props for fun.
They have not lost their personality, but they are far more aware of their mortality. As a group, from the leaders down, the team understands they can be beat. Two years ago they were beat over and over by injuries while last year they were beat by themselves. Coming into this year the mentality appears to have shifted from The Avengers back to the Phoenix Mercury. Time to see if they can rise like a Phoenix.
Diana Taurasi Media Day Interview
Brittney Griner Media Day Interview
Head Coach Sandy Brondello Media Day Interview