Friday, July 23, 2010

The Phoenix Mercury/WNBA

There's a lot that can be said about women's sports, especially at the professional level, where leagues, teams, etc. have been rather few and far between in recent times, most of which have featured leagues that only lasted a few years on average, some of which, like the Women's Pro Soccer League, have vanished and resurfaced later.

The WNBA has been one of the most interesting concepts of women's pro sports I've ever seen. Since its inception, in the summer of 1997, the league has been able to prove itself in more than one way. I'm quite impressed with the fact that the WNBA has pretty much beaten the odds. With the ceasing of operations of the Sacramento Monarchs at the end of last year, it marked, if I'm counting correctly, the ninth time in league history that a franchise has either relocated or folded.

One of the origional teams, the Houston Comets, looking like they were on their way to some kind of WNBA dynasty, winning the first four WNBA championships,(1997-2000) is one of, I think six teams that no longer exists. I always thought that teams like the Comets, who had an NBA team in their city, would have the best chance to get by on the business end of things, but no, that hasn't been the case. Most of the teams that have ceased operation along with Houston, in places like Portland, Cleveland, and Orlando just to name a few, have been the ones that have lasted the least amount of time.

Here in Phoenix, we have the Phoenix Mercury, who, like most teams, have had up and down seasons, but are one of the origional franchises that have been able to stay in the same city throughout their existance. The Mercury have a great player in Diana Taurasi and have had others, like Cappie Pondexter, to help them win the 2007 and 2009 WNBA championships and all the player/fan enthusiasm that came with them.

I've had a great opportunity to photograph the Mercury this season, but with the departure of Cappie Pondexter and the addition of Candice Dupree, it's quite obvious that the team is going through a new chemistry that it was not as easy to adjust to as some might've thought. At the time of this post, the Mercury are holding a 9 win and 12 loss reccord for 2010, but still holding onto second place in the WNBA Western Conference that the Seattle Storm is being the dominant team in. Except of first place Seattle, who is running away, with 19 wins and 2 losses, the rest of the conference has teams with fairly evenly matched records. There's no telling what the playoff picture will look like.

The Mercury remained a fairly young team going into the 2010 season. No player on the roster, with the exception of Tangela Smith, is more than 30 years old. There's still plenty of time to turn things around, push up and over the .500 mark, and make way to the playoffs. With the Mercury's recent aquisition of forward/center Kara Braxton from the Tulsa (formerly Detroit) Shock, in a trade for forward Nicole Ohlde, It might make a difference as the 2010 season begins to wind down. Best of luck to head coach Corey Gaines and the Phoenix Mercury team for 2010 and beyond.