PHOENIX, Ariz. — It’s been three years since Penny Taylor last felt like herself.
The three-time WNBA All-Star and two-time WNBA Champion missed all of 2012 (left knee) and played only 10 games before having to be shut down once again in 2013 (right knee).
Two games into 2014, Taylor — knock on wood — is healthy for the undefeated Mercury.
“Physically, I feel really good,” she said Thursday. “It’s going to take a little bit of time to get my timing back, just get more confidence out there on the court. I’m playing with a few people I haven’t played with before, so that all has to gel and get that chemistry there.
“I’m not happy with the way I’ve been playing, but I know that it’s going to take just a little bit of time.”
While Taylor hasn’t seen much playing time in the first two games (five points, one rebound, three assists and one steal in 25 combined minutes coming off the bench), the fact that she’s even been on the court has been a boost for the Mercury.
“Really, seriously, it surprised me,” said head coach Sandy Brondello of Taylor suiting up game one against Seattle.
For Taylor, however, playing the opener was never a question.
“People have seen me on the bench enough the last couple of years,” she said. “I just needed to get out there and get started.”
Taylor has worked extensively with Suns head strength & conditioning coach Mike Elliott, recently named the National Basketball Strength & Conditioning Association’s Coach of the Year.
He deserves the credit, according to Taylor, for helping her return from what was a torn ACL in the left knee in 2012 and arthroscopic surgery on the right knee in 2013.
“All the credit,” she said. “What he does is incredible. It really is a very detailed program. It’s very specific to each person’s problem and I feel like from the grassroots it just helped me build strength in the areas I was weak in, and that’s why I’m out there today.”
Taylor’s teammates are glad she’s back.
“We’ve missed her scoring ability, her playmaking ability, her toughness; and those are all the things that she’s going to bring back again because that’s just what she’s great at,” Diana Taurasi said. “That can only make us a better team.”
The Mercury, 2-0 for the first time since 2009, host San Antonio on Friday, one day before Taylor’s 33rd birthday.
“Look, I’ve done all this work to get back out there so I’m not going to let a little bit of rustiness stop me now,” she said now in her 13th season. “I’ll just keep fighting, keep working on it. It’s a bit of a mental thing right now; physically I feel great.”