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August 11, 2006 at 6:26 PM

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If Phoenix guard Diana Taurasi drags the Mercury to its first playoff appearance since 2000, I’m changing my balloting to vote her the league’s MVP. I’ve always thought Taurasi is an incredible talent but had the Chamique Holdsclaw disease — a marvel at scoring, but can’t produce to help her team advance in the big games.
Taurasi’s latest run, including scoring a WNBA-record 47 points in a triple-overtime win against Houston on Thursday, changes my mind, however. Especially if the team finishes on a seven-game win streak to snatch the fourth and final playoff berth.
Taurasi’s heroics are no surprise to former University of Connecticut teammates Sue Bird and Barbara Turner. The Storm duo said Taurasi has talked about nothing but the postseason the past year.
“She is determined,” Bird said.
“It’s something she hasn’t done in her career in the WNBA,” Turner said. “She’s capable of carrying a team. She did it for two years with me in college and her focus is at an all-time high right now. She’s playing some of the best basketball in this league, so I guess you have to consider her for MVP, too, because she’s putting up some numbers.”
Taurasi is averaging a league-leading 25.2 points and ranks fifth in assists (4.1). But the number that probably sticks out to her the most is that of the 10 former UConn players currently playing in the WNBA, only three will not have advanced to the postseason in their career by season’s end. Taurasi, teammate Ann Strother and New York guard Ashley Battle are on the outside of playoffs, while Los Angeles center Jessica Moore will make her first trip with the Sparks.
Thing is, Taurasi was hyped the most when she entered the league as the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2004.

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