PHOENIX – After an offseason of playing in China and promoting her autobiography, “In My Skin,” Mercury center Brittney Griner afforded herself a couple of weeks to unwind.
It wasn’t long, however, before she was ready to wind it up again.
“At first I was like, ‘ooh, I’m at home,’ was relaxing with my family and then I was waking up every day like, ‘I’m bored. I can’t do this. I need to do something.’ So, yeah, at the end I was ready to come back,” she said following day one of training camp on Monday.
Griner was one of ten players to go through a two-and-a-half hour workout on the main court at US Airways Center.
Missing, though, were starters DeWanna Bonner, Candice Dupree and Diana Taurasi. They, along with first-year head coach Sandy Brondello, are still overseas, completing their seasons in Russia.
Brondello is actually coaching Taurasi in the league finals.
“It was quiet because (Bonner) isn’t here,” Griner said laughing.
“Don’t show her this. But it was quiet. And then to see some of the new faces and some old faces that I haven’t seen in awhile. Actually, I played against (Hallie) Christofferson and I played against Tiffany (Bias). To catch up with them (two of the team’s three rookies) and see them out here, it was good. It was a good first day.”
While much of the team’s star power was absent, the Mercury did have newly-acquired point guard Erin Phillips in attendance. She was picked up in a trade last month that sent forward Lynette Kizer and a first round draft pick to Indiana.
The move reunites the 28-year-old Aussie with Brondello. The two have worked previously with the Australian national team.
“She’s just taken my game to another level,” said Phillips, entering her seventh WNBA season. “So having the opportunity to play under her and next to Penny Taylor and Diana Taurasi, Brittney Griner, Dupree, Bonner, I mean the list goes on. It was such an exciting moment and very surreal. I still can’t believe that I’m actually here, to be honest.”
In Brondello’s absence, assistant Julie Hairgrove ran the first practice.
“The players came out. They gave maximum effort and really got after it today. We actually got quite a bit done,” she said, before adding about Brondello, “She’s very excited to get back and I’m just trying to do my best, holding it down and getting the girls some offensive sets, defensive philosophy; just so when she comes back it’s an easy transition.”
Brondello is expected to return later in the week with the players to follow soon thereafter.
“I know she’s pumped and I know she’s ready. And I’m pumped and I’m ready, so I’m excited to see her out here on the court,” Griner said.