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Phoenix Mercury center on guard Diana Taurasi suffering a sternum injury that will keep her out for at least four weeks. Arizona Republic

Diana Taurasi isn’t playing right now, but Dawn Staley believes she will be by the Tokyo Olympics.

“I’m not nervous at all,” said Staley, going into her first Olympics as U.S. head coach. “If I thought she was in jeopardy of missing out on the Olympics, I would have some sleepless nights, but I don’t.”

Taurasi will miss her second Phoenix Mercury game Saturday with a sternum fracture that is expected to keep her out at least four weeks. That timetable would take her to late June before a possible return.

The 12-player U.S. Olympic team will be named in mid to late June. If chosen, Taurasi and Seattle’s Sue Bird will become five-time Olympians, joining Teresa Edwards in that exclusive company.

More: Phoenix Mercury guard Diana Taurasi to miss at least four weeks with sternum fracture

Staley said Friday that she has yet to speak to Taurasi about the injury but was watching on TV when it occurred May 16. The 38-year-old Taurasi played for the rest of that game and in two subsequent games before a CT scan revealed the fracture, taking her out Wednesday against Las Vegas for the first time this season.

“Any time I watched Diana and Sue, I’m always on edge,” Staley said. “I saw that her injury happened and I saw her kind of check her chest then she played a couple of (more) games. That’s true Diana, she’s going to continue to play until she can’t play. 

“But this injury isn’t career ending. Do the Mercury need her? Absolutely. But does she want to be a five-time Olympian? Absolutely. So your body is amazing, and sometimes it does things to protect you from yourself really.”

The U.S. Olympic women’s basketball team will be favored to win a seventh consecutive gold medal in Tokyo, July 23-Aug. 8. The Americans have won 49 consecutive Olympic games (their last loss was in 1992) with Taurasi on the roster for 32.

Staley played on three Olympic teams including 2004 with Taurasi and was a U.S. Olympic assistant coach in 2008 and 2016. 

“This doesn’t affect anything,” Staley said. “She’ll heal up and tell her body what to do, and it will obey. She’ll be ready to rock and roll when we get to training camp in two months.”

Gorecki with Mercury for road trip

With Taurasi and Bria Hartley (still rehabbing from knee surgery) out for the foreseeable future, the Mercury are counting on Haley Gorecki for some perimeter depth.

The 6-0 Gorecki has cleared COVID-19 protocol and is traveling on the current road trip for games against Dallas on Saturday and Chicago, where Gorecki grew up, on Tuesday. 

“Being a shooter and being able to knock some shots down, that’s what I can do on the court,” she said Friday. “They have a really solid group here so I’m really excited.”

Skylar Diggins-Smith and Kia Nurse were the Mercury’s starting backcourt Wednesday with Megan Walker on the wing. Shey Peddy scored 12 off the bench with Gorecki joining her and Sophie Cunningham as depth players.

Mercury coach Sandy Brondello said Gorecki’s play against the Mercury in two preseason games with Seattle was a determining factor in signing her as a hardship roster exemption.

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Phoenix Mercury coach Sandy Brondello on adding guard Haley Gorecki as a hardship roster exemption. Arizona Republic

“We like the way she played,” Brondello said. “She’s another scoring threat. She’s a good 3-pointer shooter. We just had practice for the first time with her, and she picked things up well and looked good out there. I’m excited to see how much we can build with her. She’s fit in really easily. She’ll definitely be able to play.

“We went with someone we thought would fit the way we play and give us a little boost. Haley’s really smart and can play on and off the ball. We went with an option that would help us right now.”

Up next

Phoenix Mercury at Dallas Wings, 5 p.m. Saturday, College Park Center, Arlington, Texas — Mercury guard Skylar Diggins-Smith returns to Dallas for the first time since playing for the Wings from 2016-19. She wanted to leave Dallas after sitting out 2019 following the birth of her son and was obtained by the Mercury in a sign and trade. The Mercury (2-3) are on a two-game losing streak including 85-79 Wednesday to Las Vegas. Dallas (1-3) has dropped three straight by a combined 16 points to Seattle, New York and Atlanta on Thursday. The Wings feature G Arike Ogunbowale and G Marina Mabrey, who played in college at Notre Dame as did Diggins-Smith and Mercury F Brianna Turner. Dallas is without F Satou Sabally, currently playing for Germany in an Olympic 3×3 qualifying tournament in Austria. This is a second consecutive Commissioner’s Cup game for the Mercury. 

Reach the reporter at or 602-444-8053. Follow him on Twitter @jeffmetcalfe.

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