PHOENIX — The slogan this year is ‘Chasing Glory,’ and it’s more than just a clever marketing campaign. It’s what the Phoenix Mercury have their sights set on as they prepare to open the 2014 season this week.
Five years have passed since the Mercury last captured the WNBA Championship in 2009.
In other words, it’s been much too long since the team raised a championship banner inside US Airways Center.
But for the drought to end this season, the Mercury know they must focus on the journey rather than the destination.
“For me it’s more about the process. I try not to look at the end result. Yes, we want to win the championship, but there’s a lot of steps we need to go through to get there,” first-year head coach Sandy Brondello said at Media Day on Tuesday. “And it starts by what we do in practice. Every time we step on the floor we need to play hard. We need to be consistent in the way that we want to play. We need to take care of the ball. So, if we can form good habits in practice I’m confident that that will go over to the court when we play.”
The Mercury return seven players from last season’s team that advanced to the Western Conference Finals; none more important than guard Diana Taurasi, a two-time WNBA champion.
“No ‘c’ word,” Diana Taurasi said. “Like Sandy said, you get caught up in talking about a championship, you forget what it takes to get there. Maybe that happened a little bit last year. We’re definitely not going to let that happen this year. There’s other ‘c’ words we can work on, like competing and confidence.”
Those ‘c’ words were each on display this past weekend in Orlando, where the Mercury played preseason games against Minnesota and Indiana, who both reached the conference finals a year ago.
The Mercury lost both games, giving the team plenty to work on in practice ahead of the season opener Saturday against Seattle.
“I expect a championship,” center Brittney Griner said. “Western Conference Finals last year, that was good but it’s not what we set out for. We set out to get to the championship and win it. And that’s my goal again this year.”