Injury bug bites Mercury early - East Valley Tribune: Sports

Injury bug bites Mercury early

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Posted: Friday, May 19, 2006 2:14 am | Updated: 3:31 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

While teammates sprinted and sweated preparing for Saturday's season opener at defending champion Sacramento, Diana Taurasi and Kelly Miller sat in frustration.

Taurasi has battled a thigh injury all week. She continued doing shooting drills but only watched the team's full-court drills.

Miller has a slightly pulled hamstring, but was able to run the court Thursday until the end.

Both will be game-time decisions. The mantra around the Mercury has been "better now than later," when it comes to injuries, and while neither appears to be serious, it's too early to know if injuries could become a nagging nuisance this season.

But with the season not even started yet, they're already an annoyance.

"Fortunately, we have another 48 hours," Mercury coach Paul Westhead said Thursday. "They're both in the process of healing."

Depending on injuries and matchups, Westhead said he won't decide a starting lineup until today at the earliest, and between injuries and overseas arrivals, continuity hasn't fully developed.

"A lot of new faces, including myself, plus injuries have been a setback," forward Kristen Rasmussen said. "Eventually we'll get there."

Playing at Sacramento on national television is a tough enough task, and Taurasi is known for her toughness, but if she's unable to play, it would be a huge blow to the Mercury's chances of starting a season 1-0 for the first time since 2000.

"I'm optimistic," Westhead said. "Especially if we're healthy."

ADDED SIZE

Three practices removed from arriving in Phoenix, Kamila Vodichkova has already injected size and strength into a thin frontcourt.

The 6-foot-4 Vodichkova averaged nearly 11 points and eight rebounds last season. After playing in Russia, she arrived from visiting family in the Czech Republic early this week, and Westhead has no qualms about putting her in the starting lineup, especially against Sacramento's formidable frontline of Yolanda Griffith and DeMya Walker.

"Kamila comes in and she's big and mobile," Rasmussen said. "We're mostly a finesse group. It's nice to have her presence."

Without any preseason games and little exposure to Westhead's running game, conditioning could be a factor early on with Vodichkova, but not enough to make Westhead worry.

"She's so important for us inside," he said. "I don't see any reason why she won't be ready."

BONUS SHOTS

Following some maneuvering, the Mercury finalized their opening-day roster of 13 players (11 active, two inactive per game). The team traded forward Angelina Williams to Detroit in exchange for two third-round draft picks in next year's draft. Williams, a second-round pick in 2005, averaged 2.5 points in nine minutes last year. With the roster cutdown looming, the Mercury were happy to receive some value for Williams. "The alternative was cutting her and getting nothing," Mercury general manager Seth Sulka said. "She has some value and interest from teams, and we were able to turn it into something positive." The team also released forward Shereka Wright, who tore her ACL early in training camp and is out for the season. . . . General manager Seth Sulka said he is optimistic forward Penny Taylor will rejoin the Mercury this season. Taylor figures to be a keep component to this year's team. Negotiations continue about a starting date for Taylor, who's finishing a commitment in Italy. ... Both Westhead and Monarchs coach John Whisenant will wear microphones during Saturday's ABC broadcast.

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