Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Wrapping Up . . .

As the WNBA playoffs continue on around us -- and without us --and with a little bit of time having elapsed since the end of the Mystics’ own season, we wanted to post a few closing thoughts on this season as well as a few thoughts on what’s in store for the future.

The BasketCases have been Mystics season ticketholders since the inception of the franchise in 1998. And although the Mystics (thankfully) have never had a worse record than they did in that inaugural season (an egregious 3-27!), to us, last season (the season of 2008, not 1998) was the most dismal and most unenjoyable in franchise history. There’s no need to repeat all the reasons why; if you are reading this, you probably lived through it. While the Atlanta Dream finished the 2008 season with the worst record in the league, by the end of last season, Washington was playing the worst basketball in the WNBA.

The good news, of course, is that Sheila Johnson and Greg Bibb did exactly what was needed to begin the process of turning this franchise around. They brought in new GM Angela Taylor and she, in turn, brought in a top-notch coaching staff headed by Julie Plank.

And then the player personnel moves began. The Mystics made a hugely important trade to acquire Lindsey Harding, giving the team a much-needed All-Star-caliber point guard. The significance of adding Lindsey to the Mystics simply cannot be overstated. And while the demise of the Comets was terribly unfortunate, it did bring Matee Ajavon to D.C., another off-season plus. And, of course, the Mystics selected Marissa Coleman in the college draft. Although Marissa’s injury and the slump that followed her return to action were disappointing, Marissa showed in the early going that she has the skills to come back a much-improved player after a winter in Europe.

And speaking of much-improved players, in addition to Lindsey’s leadership at the point, the biggest on-court contribution to the Mystics’ change of direction this season was unquestionably the “new and improved” Crystal Langhorne. Lang came back from her own first season in Europe having added new dimensions to her already solid game (including a jump shot that makes us hold our breath every time we see her take it . . . because we never saw her do that in college!). Lang was appropriately recognized for her hard work with the WNBA’s Most Improved Player Award.

While our readers know the BasketCases were big fans of the Mystics’ new "Brain Trust" from the beginning, you also know we didn't believe a team as dreadful as the 2008 Mystics could be turned around in one off season. To be honest, we didn't think making the playoffs this summer would be very likely; the fact that the Mystics got that far is an incredible testament to just how much Angela and Julie and all the coaches -- and of course the players -- have accomplished.

But Angela and Julie would be the first to tell you (as Angela did in her blog today) that they weren't just satisfied with simply making the playoffs. They are looking to build a team that can compete successfully -- and repeatedly -- for a championship.

Of course, it's no secret to fans (and to our readers) who've watched the Mystics all season that there are still positions that need shoring up, most notably the Center. And Washington's energizer bunny, Lindsey Harding, who played more minutes than almost anyone else in the league, needs a reliable backup.

It’s not easy for a team to acquire the personnel it needs. We’ve read so many comments on message boards telling the Mystics that they need to get a good Center. As if the Mystics haven’t figured that out! The hard part is making it happen. Unfortunately, Angela can't simply head over to her favorite grocery store, Harris Teeter, and pick a great new Center off the shelf. She also can't make another team trade with her, nor unilaterally force a free agent to sign. And that goes not only for the Center position, but for any other slot the Mystics may be looking to upgrade.

There’s no question that Angela and Julie have their work cut out for them as they seek to take the Mystics to the next level. The good news is that we are convinced that they really know what they are doing, and that the franchise, finally, is headed in the right direction. So the BasketCases can relax this off-season -- turn our attention to our favorite college team, the Terps -- and let Angela and Julie do all the work. We're already looking forward to seeing what excitement the 2010 season holds for us -- and the growing legion of Mystics fans!

Have you renewed your seats for 2010 yet? We have. What are you waiting for?

* * * * * * * * *
Speaking of turning our attention to the Terps . . . More from the Baltimore Sun's Matt Bracken about Coach B's latest (and exciting!) 2010 "verbal" Alicia DeVaughn here and here.


At 8:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Angela and Julie are going to be spending a lot of time at Maryland over the next 4-5 years. Can't wait to watch both teams with their amazing casts of players.

At 8:55 AM, Anonymous 104 said...

We may not catch one of the senior centers in next year's draft. However, there are enough centers out there (Appel, Charles, DeHaan, Monroe, and Smith are named by Wade watch) that their arrival may free up a veteran center for the Mystics. No team is going to give up LJ for Alica DeHaan, but a team may give up a decent reserve center if they snag Appel or Charles.
And although we have some very personable folks who work in the paint, personality doesn't win games or make free throws.

At 1:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Basketcases, like you we've been here since day one and love what's finally happening for our team! Great front office, coaching staff and players this season. It was wonderful.

Can I ask your thoughts on Taurasi as league MVP? Her DUI is pending and I just don't think that sets an example I want anyone I know to follow. But, I've never liked her so...

Thanks for another great season of Mystics coverage!!!

At 4:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, I guess the MVP is the best basketball player so the DUI doesn't come into play really. Of course, Catch or Douglass or Cappie could have easily been the MVP also. Not sure how I feel about it. I generally just like Tamika Catchings better....she isn't as arrogant as Taurasi.

At 6:26 AM, Anonymous 104 said...

I always have to remind myself that MVP is intended to recognize the player that had the most impact on her team's performance, and is not necessarily the best player in the league.
With that in mind, the question is - could Phoenix win without Diana? Could Indiana win without Tamika? We saw (when she was injured) that the Mystics could win without Alana , so AB wouldn't be a candidate.

As for DT, I just want to say I'm tired of hearing the playoff announcers gush on and on about how Diana made this huge commitment to fitness a year ago. Can anyone see Jen Azzi knocking back shots?

At 12:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Taurasi is indeed an incredible player and arrogant or not, I love to watch her play. I don't however, feel she deserves to be honored with the MVP because of her pending DUI. It simply sets a bad example. I do believe in second chances and atonement, but others are more deserving this year.

At 1:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Definition of irony - MVP presented by a car company - Kia motors- to a player with a DUI.
Does the WNBA see it?

At 9:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Really, if this award was actually about "most valuable" to their team, wouldn't it make sense for Harding to get some votes? Would they have been in the playoffs without her?

I won't get into my personal feelings about Taurasi here, but it's worth pointing out that Phoenix was a bad team last year without Penny Taylor and a great team in 07 and 09 with her. So Diana's not really even the most valuable to her own team.

And not one vote for Plank for Coach of the Year? Seriously?

At 1:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

During last night's Indiana win (go Fever) the commentators went on and on about Penny Taylor - the Mercury won it all with her, did not even make the playoffs without her the following year. So I echo what has been said!

At 1:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had a feeling Rookie of the Year was a forgone conclusion, but I would have had co-rookies of the year with Bonner sharing it also. She had major impact coming off the bench. But I also am excited by all the great rookies that came in - Coleman, January, Montgomery, etc... The league seems to be in good hands.

At 9:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The rookie from Detroit was right up there also...could have been ROY also.

At 10:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What happened with D. Liles? I just ready on the MD Womens Basketball website that she is no longer on the team. Wow, this could really be a rebuilding season for the Terps this year. Do the BC's know what happened with D. Liles?? Is she transferring to another school?

At 11:41 AM, Blogger BasketCases said...

Dear Anonymous,

According to the Washington Post Terrapins Insider...

"Senior forward Dee Liles has been dismissed from the Maryland women's basketball team because of academic reasons, according to a source with knowledge of the situation who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the subject."

It's our understanding that Dee spent 2 years at JUCO because, after H.S., she wasn't academically cleared by the NCAA.

We feel bad for Dee and for the program that she will no longer be playing for the Terps. We wish her all the best.



Post a Comment

<< Home