It has been a crazy couple of months for Phoenix Mercury number one overall selection, Brittney Griner. Between the media interviews, appearances and such, there has been a lot of basketball talk, but not actual basketball.
Finally on Monday, that was no longer the case as Griner took the floor with her new team for the very first time for start of training camp.
“It definitely felt good to get the ball in my hand and up and down the court,” Griner said after practice on Monday. “Instead of sitting in press rooms and doing all of the media stuff. But on the court that’s where all the fun is.”
“B.G. as I call her now, a little more skilled than I thought,” said Mercury head coach Corey Gaines after practice. “She catches the ball real well…We ran a decent amount today and she maintained the pace. She looked good.”
That pace that Gaines talks about is fast. He likes his team to run a very up-tempo offense up and down the floor and is something that Griner knows she will have to get used too.
“Definitely was a track meet. I get my rest in when I can. Little tricks like asking questions,” Griner joked. “But it is faster paced just like high school to college, college to pro…If you make it through the first day you’ll make it through the second and just keep going from there.”
Above all, Gaines was most impressed with Griner’s basketball IQ and how quickly she picked up on new things that were thrown her way.
“As far as watching her help-side, load up, watching her big man drill, and doing the right footwork, she picked it up,” Gaines said. “We had some drills where she didn’t know what she was supposed to do but she watched someone do it and she did it. Sometimes players don’t pick it up as fast but she picked it up. That’s what I mean basketball IQ.”
“Today I picked up on everything,” Griner added. “But who knows tomorrow, may be blown out the window.”
Other Mercury stars Diana Taurasi, Penny Taylor, DeWanna Bonner and Candice Dupree were not at the first practice on Monday and aren’t all expected to be in attendance until friday. For Griner, she is used to be the lone star on a team but having so many more around here, she believes it will take some pressure for her in the beginning. Coach Gaines agrees and thinks it won’t be a problem having so many good players suiting up for the same team.
“If we had young stars that would be a problem but we have veteran players who have won championships, won gold medals and I think they know what it is to play with talent around themselves,” Gaines explained.
The Mercury continue training camp leading up to the first game of the Brittney Griner-era on May 27th.