Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Opportunity Knocks Down Mystics. Tonight's game against the Indiana Fever, with an injured Tamika Catchings in street clothes, presented an opportunity for Washington to pick up a much-needed win and gain back a full game on Chicago (which lost tonight to Connecticut) and New York (which lost to L.A. in the Garden . . . the Libs' 7th consecutive loss). But while the opportunity knocked, as the Mystics faced a team on a 6-game losing streak without All Star Catchings . . . the Mystics failed to answer, losing to the Fever, 66-57, for the fourth time this season.

The Mystics started slowly on the road, scoring only 15 points in the first quarter, falling behind by 9. In quarter #2, Indy left the door wide open for a Washington comeback, scoring only 6 points in the second 10 minutes. Unfortunately, the Mystics managed only 9 points themselves, hardly doing better in quarter #3 (12 points), while Indy recovered, scoring 20. So the Mystics entered the 4th quarter down 36-50 (having failed to hit a field goal in five minutes). Naturally, the Mystics outscored Indy in the 4th, but not surprisingly, it was too little, too late. Déjà vu all over again.

The Mystics are now 10-15 overall, and 4-11 against Eastern Conference opponents. And with only 9 games remaining, tonight's loss means that for the 10th straight season, the Mystics will not manage to win 20 games.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Cellar Dwellers.

The Mystics began the game against the Shock this afternoon just as they'd left off on Tuesday against the Storm, with a well-played quarter of basketball that put them ahead, 22-16, after ten minutes.

Unfortunately, the Mystics then reverted to form, pulling what has become all too typical this season -- a disappearing act. They were absent for most of the second 10 minutes, a period in which they did not score a single field goal until there were 8.3 seconds left in the half. That 2-pointer and 4 made free throws gave the Mystics a grand total of 6 points (!!) in the second quarter, sending them to the locker room with Detroit leading 37-28.

The third quarter wasn't much better, as the Mystics scored only 14 points to the Shock's 24. Finally, as they have done repeatedly this season, the Mystics decided to play the last quarter, outscoring Detroit 22-15. But as it has been so many times, the effort was too little too late, and Detroit won, 76-64.

DeLisha Milton-Jones led the Mystics in scoring and rebounding today, with 17 points and 7 boards. But while Dee hit 50% from the floor, the Mystics as a team shot only 33.3%, which typically does not win ball games and did not win one today. Nor does failing to crash the glass or box out. Even though the Shock were playing without the human rebounding machine, Cheryl Ford, they outrebounded the Mystics 49-20, an astonishing disparity. Simply put, it was not a good outing for the Mystics, and the fans left depressed. While the BasketCases had hoped that Tuesday's terrific 45-minute effort against Seattle meant an end to only partially played games, it seems this was not to be.

Before today's game, the Mystics, the Sky, and the Liberty were tied for 4th place in the Eastern Conference. But this afternoon's loss sends the Mystics back to the cellar, alone, with a record of 10-14, while Detroit clinched a playoff berth.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

What a Great Day!!

Not only did the USA baby-ballers win Gold this afternoon at the Pan American Games, but the Mystics then played what was probably their best game of the season tonight, and they even did it at home!

Taking the court against the Seattle Storm, the Mystics played a complete game of basketball from start to finish -- all four quarters! In fact, they played more than four quarters, as the game went into overtime. It was fun, competitive, and exciting, from the opening tip through the 45th minute. Best of all, the Mystics won, 97-96.

And in order to win, the Mystics had to counter an absolutely phenomenal performance by Lauren Jackson, who tied the WNBA single-game scoring record of 47 points and shattered her own career high of 35. She also grabbed 14 rebounds. The Mystics' counter-punch came from three players, Alana Beard, Monique Currie, and DeLisha Milton-Jones, who scored 27, 23, and 22 points, respectively. Mo had a double-double of her own, pulling down 11 rebounds. And Nikki Teasley dished out a game-high 10 assists. It was simply an incredible game.

The Mystics went home happy, the fans went home happy. It's all good.

Youth Prevails! USA Wins GOLD!!!

In Rio this afternon, the young USA baby-ballers captured the 2007 Pan American Games Gold Medal (for the first time since 1987!) in a contest which, for 3 quarters at least, was a lot closer than its final score, 79-66. As a matter of fact, Brazil led the game at the end of 10, 20 & 30 minutes of play. But, in the final minutes, the young legs and the deep bench of the USA team proved too much for the older, more experienced Brazilians. The USA youngsters literally ran away from 38-year-old Janeth Arcain (who was playing her final game for her national team) and the rest of her teammates, outscoring the host team 30-13 in the final quarter.

The Scarlet Knights' Matee Ajavon led all scorers with 27 points, and Angel McCoughtry of Louisville (who will play for former Maryland Assistant Jeff Walz this fall) put up 17. Through the first four games of the tournament, Marissa Coleman played more minutes per game than practically any other USA player. Today, this being the 5th consecutive game, perhaps all those minutes finally caught up with Marissa, as she saw only limited action and scored just a single point.

Congratulations to Coach Staley and all the members of the USA's Gold Medal winning Pan American Team!

In case you're counting, that makes three Maryland starters sporting Gold Medals from their 2007 Summer Vacations!

Photo Credit: someone in Brazil!

Monday, July 23, 2007

O Canada!
Your home and native land!
True patriots love the skills thy girls command.
With glowing hearts we've seen them rise,
The True North strong and free!
But Canada, from far and wide
You could not guard our threes!
God keep your land glorious and free!
O Canada, you could not stop our threes,
But Canada, we had no trouble guarding thee!

This evening, playing in their fourth game in as many days, team USA faced off against our friends to the North, Canada, in the second semi-final of the 2007 Pan American Games. (Host team Brazil beat Cuba, the defending champs, in the first semi-final.) The USA started slowly, and was actually behind by 4 points at the end of the first quarter. But then the team kicked it into gear, and was up by 17 at the half, 45-28, winning by a final score of 75-59. Angel McCoughtry of Louisville (hello Coach Walz!) led all scorers with 21. After three blazing first games, Maryland's Marissa Coleman had a slower night, hitting just 2 of 3, both from behind the arc, for a total of 6 points.

Tomorrow, the USA faces Brazil in a showdown for the Gold at 2:30pm EDT. The BasketCases sure do wish we could see that game!! What we will be seeing tomorrow, however, is the Mystics taking on Lauren Jackson, Sue Bird, and the rest of the Seattle Storm at the Phone Booth. Perhaps the Mystics will decide to play four quarters of basketball. In any event, Tree Rollins is already lowering expectations for the matchup: "It's going to be a tough game for us."

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Thanks, but there'll be no celebratory cigars for anyone in Cuba tonight. No, the team that won the Gold at the last two Pan American Games fell to the baby-ballers from the USA this evening, 78-63, as team USA finished the preliminary round undefeated. The Terps' Marissa Coleman, again coming off the bench, had a team-high 19 points (also tying the game-high), as well as 6 rebounds. In three games in three days, Marissa is averaging a team-high 13.3 points per game, shooting an impressive 57% from the floor!

The medal round begins tomorrow (Monday), with the USA playing a semi-final match against Canada, and the only other undefeated team, the host team Brazil, taking on Cuba in the other semi-final. The Gold medal will be decided in a final game on Tuesday.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

We Won't Cry for You Argentina

It wasn't easy, you'll think it strange
When we try to explain how we feel
That we still need respect after all that we’ve done
You won't believe us
All you will see are young girls you once knew
In unis with sixes and sevens and nines

We had to let it happen, We had to play
Couldn't stay all our life down at heel
Looking up at the scoreboard, staying out of the sun
So we chose free-dom
Running around, trying everything new
And nothing fazed us at all
We never expected it to

We won’t cry for you Argentina
The truth is we meant to beat you
All through our wild days
Rio’s mad existence
We kept our promise
Now keep your distance*

The young USA baby-ballers (average age 20.5 yrs) played a veteran team from Argentina (no player younger than 22, and one in her thirties!) in their second game of the preliminary round of the 2007 Pan American Games in Rio this evening. And for the second time in two days, they raced out to an early lead, outscoring their opponent 12-2 in the first five minutes, and continued to build on that early lead, winning 85-54. Golden Gopher Emily Fox led all scorers with 18 points, while Georgia's Tasha Humphrey added 14. The Terps' Marissa Coleman was the only other USA player in double figures, with 12 points. She also tied the game-high in rebounds (8), and had 3 assists and 2 steals, for a truly outstanding performance -- and all of this was off the bench and in only 21 minutes.

Tomorrow, in their last game of the preliminary round, the USA team faces the defending gold medalist, Cuba, at 6:45 pm EDT. Like the USA, Cuba defeated Colombia and Argentina in the first round.

*With apologies to Tim Rice

* * * * * * * * * * *
Meanwhile, in Motown tonight, the Mystics' winning streak came to an end, as they lost to the Shock, 66-58, who were playing without All Star MVP Cheryl Ford. With the Mystics' egregious first half performance, in which they scored 6 and 7 points in the first and second quarters, there was nothing the Mystics could do in the second half to win this game, period.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Not Again!!! Can't the BasketCases' favorite teams learn to win in regulation?? We are getting too old for this heart-stopping drama. For the second time in two meetings, the Mystics and the Lynx went to overtime!

To get to OT, the Mystics once again needed a fourth quarter surge (sound familiar?) to overcome their less-than-stellar first three quarters. In fact, the Mystics, who only scored 25 points in the entire first half, managed to overcome the hole they'd dug for themselves by scoring 30 points in the final period! But even that required a little help from the Lynx. With the Mystics down by 3 points and only 2.4 seconds left in regulation, the Lynx fouled Tamara James as she was shooting from outside the arc. [Rule Number One: never foul the 3-point shooter!] Fortunately for the Mystics, the diva delivered (as we all know, divas never sweat), nailing all 3 of her free throws, to send the game into overtime, where the Mystics won, 91-87.

Seimone Augustus had a phenomenal offensive night against the Mystics, scoring a career-high 33 points in 34 minutes, but left in the fourth quarter due to an injury and did not play any of the overtime period.

DeLisha Milton-Jones's 17 points tonight put her over the 3,000 mark for career points, a tremendous accomplishment. Congratulations to All Star DeLisha Milton-Jones!

No Decaf for these girls!

Without question, the players on the USA Pan American team were wide awake when they tipped off today against Colombia in their first appearance at the 2007 Pan American Games in Rio. USA raced out to a 13 point lead in the first 5 minutes and never looked back, winning 95-41.

5 USA players ended up in double figures. Rutgers' Mattee Ajavon led the team with 15 pts, Georgia's Tasha Humphrey followed close behind with 14, and Charde Houston (from some small-town college up North where the winters are freezing and where people's idea of a good time is sitting around huddled in Polartec watching old Diana Taurasi highlight reels) clearly enjoyed Rio's warmer clime, as she recorded the USA team's only double-double (10-10).

Maryland's Marissa Coleman, in just under 19 minutes of playing time, came off the bench to score 9 points, pull down 3 rebounds and dish out 3 assists.

Today's minutes were spead fairly evenly among the 12 players on the USA roster. That should leave the team well rested for their next match, which comes tomorrow at 6:45 pm EDT against Argentina. Then, on Sunday, they will need to load up again on double espressos, as their 3rd game in 3 days will be against the defending Pan American champions from Cuba.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

There's an Old Saying in Show Biz . . . .

. . . never share the stage with animals or children. Well, the Mystics tempted fate today by doing both! This morning, in what was the first game back for both teams following the All Star break, the Mystics and the Comets tipped off at 11:30am for the Mystics' annual "Camp Day" contest. Kids in the stands and flying dogs at halftime!

Little time to practice (but plenty of time to party) over the break appeared to have exacted its toll on both teams. Neither looked sharp; both teams looked quite sluggish. As a matter of fact, it seemed that each team only had about one good quarter of basketball in them . . . the first quarter for Houston and the fourth quarter (what else?) for DC. [If the Mystics win the championship this year, the BasketCases think Tree should title his book Overtime Is Our Time Fourth Quarter Is Our Quarter.]

The Mystics fell behind by 14 at the half (36-22), heading to the locker room with more turnovers than field goals. That's usually not a good sign. Frankly, we tried our best to enjoy the dogs' performance, thinking it might be the highlight of the afternoon. But fortunately, that did not turn out to be the case. Helped enormously by Houston's almost complete disappearance in the fourth quarter (a period in which the Comets scored only 7 points to the Mystics' 24!), the Mystics managed to make up the halftime deficit and then some, winning 65-58. It wasn't pretty, but it was a win. So, the Mystics' winning streak is now up to a respectable 3 games and their fans can keep smiling.

Three Mystics players ended up in double figures. Dukies Monique Currie and Alana Beard each had 16 points. Mo recorded a double-double, as did DeLisha Milton-Jones, who matched Mo's rebounds (11 each) and also scored 11 points. The BasketCases prefer not to whine about refs too much, so our only comment about the officiating of today's matinee was that it was both interesting and creative.

Moving on . . . also playing in a midday game today, Chicago lost a close one to Indy, 75-74, slipping to 8-13. By winning today, the Mystics are now at 8-12, ahead of Chicago and, most important, out of the Eastern Conference cellar for the first time this season!

The kids all came color-coded -- like this Rainbow-colored group. And because 13,000 or so little kids don't make enough noise on their own, they were given "flip drums" at they entered.

A Green Group

One young lady in A Red Group found the noise to be deafening even before the game began.

A couple of free agents from A Yellow Group

Another Green Group . . . with backpacks!

Of course, former Mystic, Latasha "Tot" Byears, came color-coded as well.

Photo Credits: DC BasketCases

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Thanks, We Needed That! For these two Mystics fans, the WNBA's All Star Weekend couldn't have come at a better time.

With an 0-8 start and only 3 home wins so far this season, this year's Mystics team has tried our patience and tested our ability to maintain a sense of humor. Sometimes, we confess, we failed the test . . . getting a little testy ourselves. But the All Star Game and the weekend's related activities not only provided the Mystics' faithful with a much needed all star break, it also helped many of us re-Discover* the fun and joy of being of being a WNBA fan.

The week before the big event, we weren't sensing much enthusiasm for the ASG among fans at the Phone Booth. None of the Mystics was voted onto the East's starting line-up; traditionally, only ASG players got to compete in the skills events; there were no open practices on the schedule for fans; nothing about the fan fest (Be Tour) mentioned appearances or activities involving the ASG players. Truth be told, we were beginning to wonder if this All Star Game would be just another disappointment following an already disappointing start to the season. The internet message boards lit up with fans from all over the country wondering if their ASG roadtrips would turn out to be a bust.

But then -- just when things were looking pretty bleak -- everything changed for the better! The coaches selected two Mystics players as Eastern Conference reserves -- Alana Beard and DeLisha Milton-Jones. And thanks in large part to some very effective Washington-style lobbying by the Mystics' front office, DC's own (and former All Star) Nikki Teasley, and the Mystics' favorite bench-warmer and sharpshooter, Laurie Koehn, were added to the WNBA's skills competitions. Not only that, but the Western Conference coaches added DC homegirls Becky Brunson and Kara Lawson to their All Star reserves. All of a sudden, Sunday's game turned into something that Mystics fans could look forward to!

But if that weren't enough, the WNBA's front office, showing an extraordinary responsiveness to the league's fans, clarified the Be-Tour's schedule, announcing that both the East and West All Star teams would be appearing at the fan fest on Saturday . . . running through some practice drills, signing some autographs, interacting with the the fans! Things had definitely turned the corner! At the same time, the Mystics' front office (again thanks to Washington's favorite pastime, lobbying) convinced the league office to release enough invitations to the Benning Road Boys & Girls Club practice site to accommodate their 10-year Season Ticket Holders. So the weekend went from Bad, to Good . . . and, if you were a 10 year STH, to Great!

By now everybody, of course, knows how this story ends: Laurie thrilled her fans with that amazing record-setting 3-point shooting clinic! The Eastern Conference All-Stars battled their Western Conference counterparts in a high-scoring, tightly contested and fun-to-watch exhibition game . . . and the Mystics' DeLisha and Alana both played well, like the All Stars DC fans know them to be. The Phone Booth was FULL, no doubt making every long-suffering Mystics fan nostalgic for those early seasons when the place was rockin' -- night in and night out! It may have been only one game, one afternoon, but we got to experience that packed-arena excitement all over again.

As the BasketCases filed out of the Phone Booth at the conclusion of the game, we were smiling. And as we looked around, we realized we weren't alone . . . everybody was smiling, everybody was happy. Thank you WNBA. Thank you Mystics. Thank you for All Star weekend in Washington.


*True Story: When a WNBA fan on line in front of us at the NBA booth at the Be Tour tried to pay for her All-Star merchandise (complete with ASG and Discover Card logos!) with her Discover Card . . . she was told "Sorry, we only take Mastercard and Visa." Ooops.

2007 All Star Game: The Post-Game Pop Quiz!

1. In what year was this picture of the Phone Booth taken? A. 1998, B. 1999, C. 2000, D. 2007

2. Nikki T is wearing on her person non-regulation _________ : A. Headband, B. Wristband, C. Teammate, D. Bling-bling

3. What was the height of Coach Boo's high heels? A. 2 inches, B. 4 inches, C. 6 inches, D. 8 inches

4. Whose baby picture appeared on the Jumbotron? A. Laurie Koehn, B. Linda Hargrove, C. Coco Miller, D. Alana Beard

5. What is the name of the most popular entertainer(s) who performed at the All Star Game? A. Oh Mya!, B. Oh No Mya!, C. What were you thinking Mya?, D. The Timeless Torches
6. Where's Pax? A. In her cage at the National Zoo, B. Dining on Market Salamander gourmet fare in Dr. J's box, C. Scaring a young child, or D. Under Asjha Jones' armpit (hint: click on the picture)

7. The Marines are looking for a few good ____________ : A. Men, B. Women, C. All of the above, or D. Silver Foxes

8. Whose Stupid Idea was it to get Nationally renowned and respected sports journalist Mechelle Voepel to pose with a RebKell Tee-shirt and Flat Rebby, the official message board Action-less figure? A. Rebby, B. MV insisted!, C. Donna O, or D. The BasketCases

9. Do these special ASG sneakers belong to members of the East Team or the West Team? A. True, B. False, C. Could you repeat the Question? or, D. Yes

10. Is this young man excited because: A. He just saved a lot of money on his car insurance, B. He just celebrated his Bar Mitzvah, C. He just got to meet the BasketCases, or D. He just bought the Houston Comets and hopes to host ASG 2008

(Extra Credit Question) A Good Time at ASG 2007 was had by: A. None, B. A Few, C. Some, or D. All

Answers: 1. D, 2. D, 3. D, 4. D, 5. D, 6. D, 7. D, 8. D, 9. D, 10. D, Extra Credit: D.

Photo Credits: DC BasketCases

Sunday, July 15, 2007


The Mystics' own Laurie Koehn proved this afternoon something that Mystics fans have known all along, that she is the best 3-point pure "shooter" in the league. In previous 3-point shootouts, the WNBA has only allowed members of the All Star team rosters to compete. But this is Washington, DC after all, and if there's one thing we know how to do in this town, it's lobby. And after some very intense lobbying by the Mystics' front office, the WNBA was persuaded to give a relatively unknown bench player a shot at the title. Needless to say, Laurie did not disappoint. An extemely nervous first-time competitor, Laurie beat the BIG name stars, including The Diana and last year's All Star Game MVP, Katie Douglas, in both rounds to win the crown. Laurie cleared several racks and hit a number of "money balls" en route to her victorious final round score of 25, which tied a 21-year-old record set by Craig Hodges of the NBA and set a new WNBA record.

Diana Taurasi (on Laurie Koehn): "Wow . . . that chick can shoot."

Jubilant hometown fans (and visitors!) were out of their seats cheering wildly after Laurie nailed the shot that sealed the win. With this kind of excitement in the arena just prior to the ASG tip-off, the BasketCases are confident that the WNBA has no regrets about permitting non-All Star specialists to participate in the pre-game competitions.

Laurie's victory earned her a post-shootout interview with Hall of Famer Nancy Lieberman. Laurie made very gracious remarks about the support she has received from the Mystics' fans, and about how much she was afraid she might disappoint us. Well, she didn't. In fact, seeing Laurie win the 3-point shootout was a thrill and the emotional high point of our afternoon. This doesn't mean that the BasketCases didn't thoroughly enjoy the All Star Game itself; we certainly did. In fact, we thought it was the best ever. More to come on that later. But for now, congratulations to Laurie!!

Welcome to Washington.

On the eve of the All Star Game, the WNBA held its annual Welcome Party for the All Stars, corporate sponsors, VIPs and anyone else lucky enough to score a ticket. This year's event was held in the stately Mellon Auditorium on Constitution Avenue.

Mystics' All Stars DeLisha Milton-Jones and Alana Beard were part of the welcome committee.

D.C.'s own Becky Brunson on stage with Western Conference teammates Taj, Seimone, Penny and Cappie.

From the Wild Wild West: LoJack, Becky, DT, and (now starter) TT

Prez Donna O with Western Conference Coach (and former Mystics Assistant) Jenny Boucek, along with "Homecoming Queen" Kara Lawson, and LJ (from Oz).

The Best of the West.

From the East: DeLisha, former Mystic Asjha Jones, Candice Dupree, and Katie Douglas.

The East.

Coach Boo and Becky.

Vanessa Carlton provided the evening's entertainment (and definitely made some new fans).

The current All Stars were not the only All Stars in attendance. . . T-Spoon was as friendly and charming as ever.

And so was her former Liberty teammate, Kym Hampton.

The Mystics' Nakia Sanford was also on hand, looking absolutely fabulous.

Speaking of fabulous, Diva Tamara James made an appearance (and reportedly was responsible for dressing DeLisha. If that's true, all we can say is that the Diva training is really working!).

Great place, great people, great party. And we're looking forward to a great All Star Game!

Photo Credits: DC BasketCases

Saturday, July 14, 2007

From The Practice Court

This afternoon, WNBA Cares and NIKE celebrated the opening of a newly refurbished basketball court at the Boys and Girls Club on Benning Road in Northeast Washington. In honor of the occasion, the East and West All Stars held their pre-ASG practices on the new court. The BasketCases want to give a huge shoutout to the Washington Mystics, who arranged for their loyal (and long-suffering) 10-year season ticketholders to attend the practices.

Evil Bill and the Eastern Conference All Stars plot their strategy for tomorrow.

Between the conference practices, the players were available to the media.

It was awfully hot in the gym, and the BasketCases were glad to see that Alana Beard was staying well hydrated.

Shock and ASG teammates Kara Braxton and Deanna Nolan.

Former Huskies Lobo and Taurasi get together.

The broadcast team kept a watchful eye on the proceedings.

D.C. homegirl Becky Brunson meets the press, but unfortunately is injured and won't be playing tomorrow. Western Conference Coach Jenny Boucek announced that Sophia Young is flying in to take her place.

Tina Thompson cares.

The Western Conference plotting their strategy against the East.

While the Eastern Conference conference practice more or less resembled an actual practice, the Western Conference practice quickly evolved into an on-court kid-fest, as the players brought dozens of kids down to shoot hoops with them. And some of those kids were pretty good!
Photo Credits: DC BasketCases