The Mercury play their final pre-season game tonight at home against the Seattle Storm. The team is coming off a win Wednesday in Sacramento and a round-robin style scrimmage in Vegas on Thursday with the Monarch and Storm.
Pre-season games are an important part of a team's preparation for the season and with only 34 games, it is vital for WNBA teams to hit the ground running.
The Mercury will use tonight's game to work out the kinks and incorporate their new players into the run and gun system and the "rover" zone defense.
Established players and team stars see tonight's game is part of that process. For the players at the end of the roster however, it is their final live audition to impress the coaching staff and convince the team they should be on the 11 player roster.
There are six players that I would consider "on the bubble" that are competing for only two open slots.
Those six players are guards Yuko "Shin" Oga and Sha Brooks; wings Laurie Koehn and Allie Quigley; and bigs Brooke Smith and Alison Bales.
At this point based on what I've seen in practice and their performance on Wednesday, I would say that that Brooks and Quigley are the more complete players and have the edge but Koehn's outside shooting, Bales size and Shin's speed and ball handling are all valuable assets. Only 3rd round pick Sha Brooks seems to be an "easy" cut.
Brooke Smith talked about tonight's game after shoot around today, "The Diana's and the Cappie's, for them it is just getting in the flow and getting used to playing with new people and then there's the other one's of us..this is really our make or break chance."
Brooke is a smart player who brings a lot of energy on the floor but her awkward side of the head shot and smaller size might make her expendable in favor of the 6'7" Alison Bales who has decent range and touch for a center but is also slower and might not be the best fit for the Mercury's up tempo style.
As with all pre-season games, the result isn't the objective but with so many players on both teams fighting for limited roster spots the energy and effort level should be high.
I don't have any more information about the BIG Mercury news coming on Monday. We know that GM Ann Meyer's Drysdale along with team stars Diana Taurasi and Cappie Pondexter will be in New York for the announcement.
Atlanta Dream blog, Pleasant Dreams has some interesting ideas about what it might be and reports that whatever "it" is almost happened to the Dream last season.
The Mercury have called this the "biggest news in franchise history" and have locked down their web site in preparation. That would seem to rule out an all-star hosting announcement leaving some kind of ownership change or perhaps an involvement by the Mercury in an overseas league as leading speculation.
The Arizona Republic will be breaking the news Monday morning, so stay tuned.
If you are looking for something cheap and cool to do tonight, come down to the USAC for the game. There should be a small but energetic crowd and a high energy game. If you do come, stop by and say hi. I'll be at the press table court side wearing a yellow shirt. You can always reach me on twitter @phoenixstan