All credit to my players

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Russ Pennell is proud that his Mercury players have adjusted to having a new coach in the middle of the season.

First of all, I am really proud of my players on the Mercury. I truly understand that adjusting to a new head coach isn't easy, especially midway through the season. But to their immense credit, they've been incredibly gracious and responsive. Any success we have should be credited to them 100 percent.

At this point in the season, we're gunning for a playoff spot. From our perspective, the key is fine-tuning the little things in order to continue to become a better team every day.

Right now, it's the little things that are keeping us from being a great team. But we have worked hard on those in practice this week -- which I'm viewing as our training camp. We are very talented and have a lot of strengths, but it's my job to get us to the next level.

It starts with playing hard, but also playing smart. I've told the players that there are times when they are playing hard but not very smart. What we are focusing on is playing with a high basketball IQ as well as playing hard.

For example, we have to do a better job of taking care of the ball. Turning the ball over at a high rate doesn't give us a chance to compete at the level we want. We have a high standard and we're working on that mentality. We've got to value the ball more.

Offensively, we're one of the bigger teams in the league, and we want to go inside the paint often. Playing through Brittney Griner and our other post players is one of our focal points. Basketball is played from the inside out, and that leads to Diana Taurasi being open along the perimeter. DeWanna Bonner and Candice Dupree have really benefited from this.

Defensively, we're getting better every day. That side of the ball is all about effort and positioning. What we are trying to do is put a little more pressure on the ball and get scorers to catch outside of their score zone.

We have a tough road trip coming up, with three games in four days. Putting in the hard work now should help us prepare for a strong finish.