Thursday, September 17, 2009


Just 4 minutes. That's all it took for the Indiana Fever to wrest tonight's game from the Mystics' grasp.

For the first 30 minutes, the Mystics outplayed or stayed even with the Eastern Conference's #1 seed. Washington led by 4 at the half and 2 at the end of the 3rd. But those first 4 minutes of the 4th! Those are the minutes the Washington team, coaches and fans would like to forget.

The superstar duo of Tamika Catchings and Katie Douglas scored the first 5 points of the final period, and before the Mystics knew what had hit them, that 2-point Washington lead turned into a 12-point deficit. After that it was all about playing catch-up.

The Mystics didn't quit, that's not in their nature. They fought back and closed the gap to just 3 points -- a single possession -- with a little less than 2 minutes left. But that's as close as Washington got. Those 4 crucial minutes to start the final quarter exacted their toll, as the Mystics lost the first game of the Eastern Conference Semifinal series to Indy, 79-88. Bummer.

On a night when she'd just been named the WNBA's Most Improved Player, Crystal Langhorne did not disappoint. A former Terp playing on her old college floor, Lang led the Mystics with 18 points, as well as 10 rebounds for another double-double. The only other Mystics starter in double figures was Lindsey Harding, with 11. (BTW, Lindsey posted her college career high at Comcast Center.) The Mystics' other former Terp, Marissa Coleman -- feeling at home -- notched 16 points off the bench. Plus Riss grabbed 8 boards and blocked 4 shots. Matee Ajavon also added 10 points off the bench, but that was it for the Mystics' double-digit scoring. And, as it turned out, it just wasn't quite enough.

Though Lang didn't disappoint, she was obviously very disappointed (as were all the Mystics) as she filed off the floor at the game's end. Crystal looked like she was on the verge of tears. This was a very very tough loss for Lang and for the entire Mystics team. They fought hard; they played tenacious defense for most of the game; they had a chance . . . a good chance, to pull off the game 1 upset. But in those 4 minutes, they let it slip away.

Now the Mystics are in the unenviable position of having to win two games in Indy in order to extend their season and advance in the playoffs. That's a tall order. Not saying it can't be done, but it's an uphill climb. Having one win banked before making the trip to Indiana would've been a whole lot better. But it didn't happen. Bummer.

* * * * * *
Now on a more positive note, the BasketCases want to thank Greg Bibb and everyone in the Mystics' front office for the incredible job they did moving tonight's game to the Comcast Center. It wasn't easy: arranging free shuttles from the Metro; ticketing STHs in an arena with seat arrangements different from those in the Phone Booth; making over a college floor for the pro game; transporting the scorers' table, not to mention the team and the Mayhem; plus a multitude of behind the scenes tasks that we can't even imagine. And if the "usual" details of such a big move were not enough, throw in the wrinkle of having Comcast Center unavailable for much of the day because the President decided to hold a rally there. Despite the challenges, the Mystics' staff made everyone feel as much at home at Comcast Center tonight as anyone possibly could. Thank you all for a job well done!


At 12:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wondering if the change of venue really made a difference. Since the Mystics were the only lower seeded team not to win Game 1.

Do others feel the team lacks offensive execution? Like I read on another blog "the team dribbles to much".

Your thoughts or rather two cents.

At least Lang backed up her MIP award with a solid performance.

At 7:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, according to the fan in the seat behind me, the team had that big slump in the fourth quarter because our coach always puts in silly plays in the fourth quarter. Gosh! I wish she'd told Julie before the game not to use those plays.

And Alana wasn't really trying hard, either, according to the fan. I guess playing on two severely sprained ankles is no reason to play at 105% instead of your usual 110%.

I must admit that I DID enjoy when Mo nailed that three right after I'd heard "she should be sitting on that bench until they trade her" from behind me.

Bottom line - the Mystics organization and the team did a great job last night under tough circumstances (it was clear why Brianna January is a ROY candidate). I just wish that certain fans in the stands would focus more on supporting their team instead of tearing it down.

At 8:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agreed. I heard someone on the way out saying we need a new GM!

At 8:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Fever are just a better team. The mystics will get there. I am sure there will be some personnel changes. They fought last night and appreciate the effort. I am sure they will fight hard in IND.

At 9:16 AM, Anonymous stevo said...

A Gallant effort by the Mystics last night...I love the fight in this need. I agree.....costly 4 mins...

At 9:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You can go to any sporting event, at any age level, or check most any blog/message board and see the same type of expert fans that go negative no matter what. It is just some people's nature. A sad existence.

At 9:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love this team. I didn't love the Comcast Center (while recognizing the enormous effort the Mystics put into making the change of venue--just incredible). I really appreciate the sane environment of Mystics games, but an Indy fan behind me last night made the whole experience pretty miserable.

It'll be tough, but I do think they can still pull this off. If they had hit a quarter of the shots they missed, we'd be in. And now I think they're just mad enough to get this done on Saturday. And if not? What a great start for a team that spent the year building.

At 9:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry about your IND fan behind you ruining your experience. The Comcast Center is an incredible facility. One of the very best in the country, for sure.

At 9:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Only 6,300+ fans. I tend to believe this did make a difference. The Mystics did not have a home court advantage. I bet the Verizon Center would of had 12,000+. Could of made the difference in the outcome. While I thing the Mystic Organization did what they had too, they need to make sure that next year they book the Verizon Center. How can they ask us to believe in the team, when they won't put their money where their mouth is! Just my two cents!

At 9:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The reality is professional women's basketball isn't a priority so I don't think it was the Mystics organization's fault that they got bumped. I don't think Detroit was playing in their home arena and I think ATL got kicked out for both of their home games. It's just the life of women's professional basketball. It's unfortunate.

At 9:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Alana Beard MIA

At 9:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Only other team to get bumped was Alanta, and who would of thunk they would be in the playoffs. Hats off to Mary Nell!

At 10:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Although Comcast is one of the best arenas in the country, it was not a home court advantage for the Mystics. I'm sure Lang and Rissa felt at home, esp with Toliver and Harper sitting on the baseline, but it wasn't enough.

I wish the teams would book their own arenas straight through the playoffs. Obviously the front office wasn't planning on advancing or the marketing director (who received flowers before the game) would not have planned her wedding for this weekend. What's with that?

The Mystics were capable of winning that game, but the wind came out of their sails and those four minutes were the killer.

At 10:37 AM, Anonymous Mystics/Duke fan(~rAf) said...

Whoever the cowardly anonymous people are who say Alana "wasn't trying" or "MIA" don't know what they're talking about.

Last season, I did see Alana succumb to the misery of a very, very, very bad leadership by the GM. Right now, it's two bum ankles and ONLY two bum ankles that are hampering this awesome star. The timing of her injury is as best as Lauren Jackson's for Seattle. Only difference is Alana is allowed to suit up. Note I didn't say she's allowed to play, cuz she clearly can't right now.

Our solid MIP double double machine Lang did her usual great job. Rissa hit her shots and disrupted Indy on defense.

With Alana so sub par, Lindsey didn't have enough options on offense, so was susceptible to Indy's swarming defense. This team has played the Fever close to even with Alana healthy. Catch is playing now at MVP level and she wasn't there early in the season.

MO: watch the tape! Catch punk'd you big time. Time to punk her back!!! Get angry! Get revenge!

At 11:09 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Alana is injured so to say she was "MIA" just isn't fair. She always puts in the effort but again, like someone else said, not much you can do on 2 bum ankles. The Mystics didn't lose because they weren't playing at the Verizon Center. IND is just the better team. The Mystics have been inconsistant all year. They just aren't the better team. I like their fight and I think next year they will be better. I have high hopes for them next year and I absolutely think Julie Plank and Angela Taylor have this team on the right track. The talent is certainly there.

At 11:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Atlanta might even get bumped from their substitute arena next week -- the Dinosaurs are going from Verizon to Gwinnett. Hello, Knoxville!

At 11:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Mystics have the talent to beat Indy. (even without Alana) They showed it for 3 quarters. This is a mental thing now.

This is not a knock on Coach Plank, but she also got punked by a country slick Coach Dunn.

Indiana is in their heads. They need to do whatever they have to do to get them out.

At 12:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sure, they can beat IND, they can beat anybody. The talent is there. However, they are inconsistant and that's why I think IND is just a better team. They have the best record in the East for a reason and the Mystics have been a .500 team all year for many reasons.

At 12:54 PM, Anonymous Jill said...

If we had AB at 75% instead of 50%, we WOULD have won that game. It's really hard to play on two bum wheels.

My biggest thought during the game was that we are just a younger version of the Fever. We play tenacious defense. We have a handful of players who can score and dominate a game. I think that the Fever are the best team in the league. We hung with them for 36 minutes. We just need the experience to NOT let a team go on a such a long run.

Hold your head high young 'Stics and go win at Indiana!

At 1:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There have been a few 4th quarter meltdowns this year. I think it's just youth and inexperience. I think next year, we won't see as many. Marissa played great last night. She did miss some shots but made some too. I liked her aggressiveness. That's what we are used to seeing and hope we see alot more of it next year.

At 2:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I feel that there are coaching mistakes happening. Julie needs to give Lindsey more rest by playing Blue for 3 min or more. When you need 3s put Mann in for a series and let her try. You have talent you are not using in key situations.

At 2:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lindsay needs a back up for sure. They should try to get Kristi Toliver! :) I don't think lack of 3's hurt them last night. I think IND stepped up their play in the 4and the Mystics did not.

At 3:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Styx had no energy left to step up their play with, especially Lindsey. 8 people cannot play the intense, stifling defense Coach Plank prefers for 40 minutes. I honestly believe that Lindsey's legs were gone. The fresh players that Linn Dunn put in in the 4th helped beat us. There's no way January is a better player than Harding.

She was fresh. I don't think it would have hurt to give Mosby a few minutes. I think she would have brought energy and a few rebounds. Why is Blue still here?

At 3:26 PM, Anonymous BetsyInDC said...

For once, I am thrilled we're discussing something other than horrific officiating!

We've seen a lot of games where the Mystics played 35 minutes of exceptional basketball. They can beat ANY TEAM on ANY NIGHT if they set their minds to it. What's wrong is fixable by coaching...and that's a luxury we haven't had before!!

Go Mystics - beat Fever in game two!

At 3:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Coach Plank has done a phenomenal job coaching this team this year. Here's reality- Indiana has been a demonstrably better, more consistent team than anyone in the conference the entire season. The fact that we're in the playoffs is a tremendous achievement considering where the franchise has been in recent years. I just laugh when I read these comments that feel it necessary to blame someone or say somebody got "punk'd". None of us likely have a clue about coaching a team and all the dynamics involved.

Regardless of what happened last night or what happens in game 2, for the first time in a while, there are reasons to be optimistic about the Mystics. I can't thank the coaches, management and players enough for all of their efforts.

The Comcast Center was beautiful!

At 3:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Calm down. I don't think anyone is bashing the coach. Basically she's done a great job. I do however think our short (I don't mean length wise) team is exhausted in the fourth quarter, especially our wonderful point.

At 4:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do wonder why Blue made the team if they don't trust her enough to play even 10 minutes a game to give Lindsay some rest. She must be good because she made the team. Why not play her more?

At 4:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Mystics finally have a great organization and are fan-focused (pay attention, Dan Snyder). Last night, the team posted 79 points against one of the best if not the best defensive team in the WNBA. I hated hearing some fans yelling at the team when they made mistakes in the 4Q. That is when we needed to be encouraging them the most. I agree that while the best was made of Comcast Center and it's a great locale, it was not a true home court advantage. Only 6500 at a playoff game? We surely would have doubled that that at the Phone Booth. If anyone had told me at the beginning of the season, we were going to have such an exciting team, I would have jumped for joy. Thanks to the GM, the coach, and the whole organization for this season -- and it's not over yet!

At 4:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I truly enjoyed the game last night with the notable exception of the outcome. But I get so tired of the quick change from what a great team to how typical of the Mystics that they lose in the 4th Qtr. These young ladies were playing their hearts out and I, for one, remember past years were that couldn't be said.

We are a very young, playoff inexperienced team. How many of the fans complaining the most even thought that we would get into the playoffs. I didn't, although I was hopeful. I think this team is a future powerhouse. Get a couple of good rookies, or even a couple of good young players and we are set for a long time.

Thank You Mystics Organization. I got so much more than I expected this season. I truly BELIEVE that the best is yet to come!

At 11:55 PM, Blogger nsw43 said...

Comcast Center was definitely not home court and contributed to the loss.

I like Coach Plank but don't understand why she plays AB when she really can't play. Fever players blew by her because she couldn't move laterally. Why not start Matee? She showed in the Chicago game and others that she can score and defend with the best. Use AB as a reserve until she's well.

But fundamentally we lost because of our post play. How many fumbled balls did Nakia and Chastity have? And how many points? 8 or 10? We have a great backcourt and a lot of talent in Lang and Coleman, but we really don't compete in the post. This has to be the no. 1 position to fill next season, along with a really good backup point guard.

I too don't understand why they kept Blue and let Keisha Brown go. Keisha isn't a great point guard, but she could have played 10 minutes or so a game and given Harding a rest. I think the 4th quarter meltdowns are at least partially the result of Harding being exhausted.

But for all this, I've loved the way the Mystics played this season. They've been fun to watch and always competitive. They need just a couple of upgrades in key positions to be able to go all the way next year.

At 10:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Question to Mystics organization: has the verizon center been booked thru the final championship game for next year? I hope so. I like the earlier post: you want us to believe... you must put your money where your mouth is and believe that stics will be in championship game next year.

Anyone who thinks we need a new GM is just plain nuts. Angela Taylor has done a wonderful job.

Coach Plank has done very well.
Yes, Harding needs some rest... 2 min or so at the end of 1st, 2nd and 3rd quarter would go a long way. Either play Nikki Blue or trade for a PG she will play.

I'm looking forward to Coleman's sophmore year. Lang's first to second year improvement was award worthy. Expect the same from Riss.


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