Mercury players discuss leadership as they embark on a season of change
By Alex Chambers – June 18, 2015
The 2015 Phoenix Mercury look a lot different than the team that won the WNBA championship nine months ago. A lot different.
In the absence of the secret weapons the Mercury is used to having (Diana Taurasi, Penny Taylor), many new faces have been added to the roster, some of which are coming back for only their second year.
Yet, there is hope, in the form of one DeWanna Bonner and Candice Dupree. To hear the names out loud, Bonner and Dupree, calls to mind a laundry list of other dynamic duos: Bonnie and Clyde, Starsky and Hutch, Batman and Robin.
“This is my best friend,” Bonner said as she puts her arm around Dupree and flashed a peace sign to the camera at the team’s annual media day June 1 at Talking Stick Resort Arena.
While there are players on the roster who are league veterans, Bonner and Dupree hold the advantage as Mercury veterans.
Bonner was drafted fifth overall in 2009, and Dupree joined the team in what was considered a blockbuster three team trade in 2010.
“I feel like it’s all eyes on us,” Dupree said. “People are expecting us to fail because Diana and Penny aren’t here. But I try not to pay attention to that stuff.”
Being on the team the longest, by default, makes the duo the team’s new leadership.
“The returning players from last year … are the leaders,” said Sandy Brondello, Mercury head coach, in reference to the duo. “They are our team captains.”
It’s no secret that Brondello will depend upon them for leadership on and off the court.
“Sandy has talked to me and DB [Bonner] about being leaders, whether were silent leaders or by showing it, what we do on the court, or being vocal,” Dupree said, acknowledging the importance of her new role.
Bonner and Dupree’s teammates, including Britney Griner and Mistie Bass, said they feel confident in the duo’s leadership abilities.
“They’ve been here the longest [and] they’re definitely the leaders on this team,” said Griner, who will be suspended without pay for seven regular-season games. Griner and her then fiancée, Glory Johnson, both received suspensions following April arrests on misdemeanor assault and disorderly conduct charges at their Phoenix home.
“I think they’ve been doing a pretty good job at being positive,” Bass commented. “I think they’re going to [continue to] do a great job.”
No, this is not the Mercury team that fans saw last season. While there are fewer familiar faces, one thing is clear: this team is in very capable hands. With their coach behind them, and their teammates believing in them, this season may be a challenge, but Bonner and Dupree are ready to face that challenge.