Vortex of Doom.
For 40 minutes tonight, the BasketCases (and, judging from our conversations, other Mystics fans) felt as though we'd been sucked down and swirled around in the "Vortex of Doom." The Mystics came out this evening to start their game against the Shock just where they'd left off last night in New York -- playing noncompetitive basketball. Before you could blink an eye, the Mystics were down 9-0, and they were never, ever, ever in the game.
While the fans at the Phone Booth were being spun around, over on a WNBA message board (Rebkell), fans watching the game on NBA-TV were debating whether the Mystics would hit 15 before the Shock scored 50, that's how noncompetitive the game was from start to finish. At the end of the first quarter, Deanna Nolan had scored 19 points while the entire Mystics team had 12. Embarrassing. At halftime, Detroit was ahead 55-27. Washington spent a good portion of the second half playing the Detroit bench and still managed to fall further behind, finally losing 99-62. The near record-setting margin would have been even greater had the Shock starters seen more minutes.
Some of the Mystics played their hearts out tonight . . . Taj being the best example. She always comes to play, and had 13 points and battled throughout. And Nikki Blue, the only other Mystics player in double figures, was obviously working hard, even urging her teammates to "keep fighting" as she left the court during a substitution (she put up 10 points). But some other players (we hate to admit) seemed to have checked out early. Our franchise player was MIA, scoreless until the third period, while our (supposed) second scoring option didn't hit a field goal until midway through the 4th quarter. And when the opponents' bench is outscoring you, on your own floor . . . well, that is simply unacceptable.
Yesterday's game in New York and tonight's against Detroit, on top of an already disappointing season, make it very clear that there is something very seriously wrong with the Mystics. It's not any one thing or any one person, but something is very seriously wrong with this franchise.
There's been a lot of talk of late by the front office about what it would take for this team to make the playoffs. Playoffs? Forget the playoffs!! Unfortunately, the bar needs to be set a little lower. What we'd like to see immediately is basketball that does not embarrass the fans or the Mystics players.
Is that too much to ask?
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On a far happier note . . . The USA Basketball U18 National Team has been right here in our nation's capital this week, practicing at the Verizon Center for its upcoming trip to Buenos Aires for the 2008 FIBA Americas Championship. USA Basketball's web site has a feature up today about U18 team member, Virginia native -- and incoming Terp -- Lynetta Kizer that is certainly a recommended read for Maryland fans. (BTW, how many days until Maryland's home opener?)