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Thread: 2009 WNBA Finals

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    Default 2009 WNBA Finals

    Starting on 9/29 will be the 2009 WNBA Finals. This years matchup will be the Indiana Fever against the Phoenix Mercury. For the Fever, this is actually their first apperence entering the WNBA Finals, so if they win, it will be their first. Meanwhile, the Mercury will have their third apperance, but they have only won it once, which was back in 2007 against the Detroit Shock, though did make it back in 1998 against the now defunct Houston Comets but lost. It will be an interesting matchup this year. Here are the ground rules as always for this thread.

    1. This thread will be used to talk about the 2009 WNBA Finals and only the 2009 WNBA Finals, so this is not the one for any in the past, and no other sporting events, which one can open a new thread for.

    2. This is not a thread to go complaining about who should have been in the WNBA Finals, b/c there will always be next year.

    3. Please no personall attacks or other ad hominens at others just b/c they are rooting for the other team.

    4. No sore loser attitude if your team loses, b/c they can always try again next season.

    5. If you have nothing productive to say in this thread, then please do not post in this thread (ie: Hatred against the WNBA).

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    Here is for those who have kept track of the last matchups.

    2009 WNBA Finals
    (1) Indiana Fever (2-1) vs (1) Phoenix Mercury (2-1)

    Failed to qualify
    Detroit Shock*
    LA Sparks

    (*) = Denotes 2008 WNBA Champions

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    WNBA.com: Phoenix Rises Once Again
    Phoenix Rises Once Again

    By Brian Martin, WNBA.com


    A renewed commitment from Diana Taurasi and Cappie Pondexter along with the return of Penny Taylor helped fuel the Mercury back to championship form.

    Christian Petersen/Getty Images


    PHOENIX, Oct. 9, 2009 – The Phoenix Mercury were not going to watch the playoffs again this year.
    After winning the 2007 WNBA title, Phoenix became the first defending champion to fail to make the playoffs the following season.

    Watching the postseason unfold and not being a part of it provided all the motivation that the Mercury players and coaches needed as they headed their separate ways for the WNBA offseason.

    For All-Stars Diana Taurasi and Cappie Pondexter, it led to a conversation that took place thousands of miles away from the Arizona desert.

    “It started early when we got to Russia,” said Taurasi, who was named Finals MVP. “We were pretty disappointed in how the summer went, especially in ourselves, because we know we affect this team in a lot of ways and I don’t think we were in the right mindset ourselves.

    “So this summer we came with a completely changed attitude and it started right there in Russia when we talked about it.”

    The new attitude culminated in the Mercury winning their second WNBA championship in three years as they defeated the Indiana Fever in five games in what many regard as the greatest WNBA Finals ever played. Phoenix became just the fourth team to win the championship after missing the playoffs the prevoius year, joining Detroit (2003), Seattle (2004) and their own 2007 squad.

    The conversation between the Mercury’s biggest stars set the tone for the entire Phoenix team in 2009. Reserve guard Kelly Mazzante said she could see a difference from her teammates from the first day of training camp.

    “After we got eliminated last season, we sat here and said remember this feeling,” she said. “During the offseason, everyone went their separate ways and we came back with a new mindset and you could tell from day one.”

    “Missing the playoffs last year motivated us a lot because we know we have a great team and we knew what we needed to do last year we just didn’t get it done,” said center Tangela Smith. “We just made it a point to get it done this year.”

    Looking back at the 2008 season, the Mercury had some built in excuses for not defending their 2007 title:


    They had a new coach as Corey Gaines took over when his mentor Paul Westhead resigned at the end of the 2007 championship run;
    Penny Taylor, the third member of the Big Three (or as Taurasi likes to call it the three-headed monster), did not join the team as she chose to remain in Australia to train with her national team in preparation for the Olympics;

    They brought in a number of new faces a year ago, including four rookies.

    “I think that every negative was an excuse not to climb as hard up that mountain,” said assistant coach Bridget Pettis. “Everyone just had a fresh renewal this year, thinking anything is possible.”

    Mercury GM Ann Meyers Drysdale counts 2008 as a transition year, but she saw positive signs throughout the year that led her to believe another title run was coming.

    “I never doubted that Corey, Julie and Bridget would bring this team to a championship again. It was only a matter of time,” she said. "And last year, we coulda, woulda, shoulda, but Corey and I talked a lot about it during the season last year and also in the offseason that that season made us stronger.”

    The front office made some significant moves in the offseason to help bolster the lineup and provide additional depth for Gaines to work with. There was the addition of point guard Temeka Johnson as well as reserves Nicole Ohlde and Ketia Swanier through trades and free agency.

    In April, the Mercury drafted DeWanna Bonner, a long, lean, athletic and versatile player that seems tailor made to play in this offense. She would go on to win Sixth Woman of the Year honors in her rookie campaign.

    But the two biggest changes from 2008 to 2009 were pieces that were a part of the 2007 championship squad and that was the mid-season return of Taylor and the maturation of Gaines, who served as an assistant on the championship team.

    Of course, Gaines, as he has done throughout the Finals, wants only to credit his players for this accomplishment. But every player in the locker room mentioned how much he grew from his first to second year.

    “As players you want to come back and be better. Well as coaches I think that’s the same commitment you should make and I don’t think anyone improved more than Corey,” said Taurasi. “He came in with a different mindset, came in with a game plan, he was a rookie coach and he came back the next year a veteran coach and now he has a championship. He’s the reason why we’re here.”

    “I did learn a lot,” said Gaines of his rookie season as a head coach. “I think every coach learns every year and you learn the most from your defeats, your losses, your bad years, so I did learn a lot.”

    From Gaines and Drysdale at the top, to Taurasi and Pondexter as the leaders, to every other player in the locker room, the 2009 season began and ended with an added sense of motivation and a search for redemption for their sub-standard season a year ago.

    “I remember talking to Diana during the offseason in Russia, like ‘let’s make it happen. We have the opportunity to win another championship,’” said Pondexter. “We talked about just working hard and coming back and getting it done.

    “This year we worked hard every single day, people stayed extra and put in more time every single day, and that’s why we’re here.”

    Copyright © 2009 WNBA Enterprises, LLC. | Turner Sports Interactive, All rights reserved. No portion of WNBA.com may be duplicated, redistributed or manipulated in any form. By accessing any information beyond this page, you agree to abide by the WNBA.com Privacy Policy / Your California Privacy Rights and Terms of Use.

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