Phoenix, AZ (Sporting Alert) — Brittney Griner makes her WMBA debut with the Phoenix Mercury on Monday night against another top pick, Elena Delle Donne and the Chicago Sky and the anticipations are high.
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Griner, the former Baylor Bears star center and No. 1 overall draft pick, made her professional debut with the Mercury in an 87-64 win over the Japanese National Team on Sunday when she finished with collected 18 points and eight rebounds.
Following the runout, Griner is now looking forward to getting the real deal start Monday night at the US Airways Center.
Blessed with one of the best rosters in the entire WMBA this season, the pundits are already picking the Phoenix Mercury to take the league by storm, but the likes of Griner is paying too much attention to that.
She, however, said the team is well prepared to work hard.
“We expect to work hard,” the rookie said, referring to the team’s expectations. “We expect to get better every day we are in the gym together.
“Other than that, it doesn’t matter what is said about us. They could say we’re the greatest team or the worst.
“What we are focusing on is ourselves. That’s the only thing we can control.”
Expected to also be involved is Candice Dupree, who was also impressive when scoring 14 points and grabbing nine rebounds in the win over Japan.
Add to this a two-time WNBA Champion and three-time Olympic gold medalist in Diana Taurasi and Penny Taylor, who is back after a knee injury ended her season in April last year and you will begin to see why the buzz is so much around this team.
However, the experienced Taurasi isn’t getting carried away.
“We have to do the work first,” Taurasi was quoted as saying during Media Day earlier this month. “There are obviously high expectations of us and ones that we put on ourselves.
“But I really think everybody just wants to get on the court and work on gelling together.
“We feel like we have a deep team but that doesn’t mean anything if we all don’t work hard on doing the little things to keep getting better and better.”
Meanwhile, Diana Taurasi, the No. 2 draft pick from Delaware, who will add lots of depth the Chicago Sky team, is also looking forward to getting her campaign underway.
The 6-foot, 5-inch guard, showed a touch of what is expected in the league with 17 points on 6-of-9 shooting, including 2-for-3 from three point range in an 85-67 win over the New York Liberty in an exhibition.
Excited is third year team coach Pokey Chatman.
“I think she’s definitely key when you think about her talent, her skill set and her size,” said Chatman. ”
Then you talk about the deficiencies we had and she definitely addresses that. And (she’s) a player who can swing to multiple positions.”