Thursday, July 30, 2009

Was Enough.

For the third game in a row, the Mystics raced out of the blocks at the tip-off to build a double-digit lead over their opponent in the 1st quarter. Tonight it was actually a double-double digit lead, as Washington led the New York Liberty by 22 points, 34-12, at the end of the first 10 minutes.

We wish we could tell you that this was the prelude to a blowout, a game that we could enjoy from start to finish. Sadly, it was not, as the Mystics spent the remaining 30 minutes giving back virtually every point of that big cushion. In the 2nd quarter, the Libs outscored the Mystics by 4 points (15-11), in the 3rd by another 4 points (26-22), and in the final period, Washington was outscored 22-11. New York actually closed the gap to 3 points with about a minute and a half left in the game. Fortunately, the hemorrhaging stopped there.

Thanks largely to the heroics of Alana Beard (all game long, and in the closing minutes), the Mystics managed to hang on for the win, 78-75. As much fun as it was to watch the first quarter of this game, it was decidedly not fun to watch the final 30 minutes. Even the usually unflappable Coach Plank didn't look like she was enjoying herself. She got called for her first technical (as far as we know) as a head coach.

Some positives from tonight: AB, playing like an All-Star, scored a team-high 28 points. Mo "take that Washington Post!" Currie was also in double figures, with 11 (and 9 boards), as was Nakia Sanford, who came off the bench to score a season-best 16 points in about 14 minutes of play. Washington won the battle of the boards, grabbing 42 rebounds to New York's 28. Although Lang scored only 7 points tonight, she cleaned the glass, finishing with 11 rebounds, 6 of them offensive. All 11 players on the Mystics' roster got into the game.

Tonight's win was the Mystics' 10th this season -- the same number of wins they had in all of last year. While it wasn't exactly a highlight reel classic, it was still a win . . . and an important one at that. With Connecticut's overtime loss in Indy, the Mystics have leap-frogged into 2nd place in the Eastern Conference!

Another significant fact about the win tonight: it finally put an end to a very long drought. The Mystics hadn't won a game in Madison Square Garden since July 8, 2004. That's right, 2004! More than 5 years ago! So, pretty or not, tonight's win in the Big Apple has been a long time coming.

It's clear that the Mystics are a very well-prepared team; we learned at a recent chalk talk how much emphasis the coaching staff places on analyzing film of their opponents. That may be why Washington has been so successful of late in the first quarter of their games. But it's obvious that there's still work to do. Hopefully the coaches and players will find a way to carry that early-game momentum into quarters 2, 3 and 4. In order to stay right in the midst of the playoff race, playing complete games and finishing strong need to be right at the top of the Mystics' to-do list . . . especially on Sunday when the #1 Fever make an encore appearance at the Verizon Center.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

It Wasn't the First Time this season that a Mystics game was decided in the final seconds. And it wasn't the first time that those final seconds weren't kind to the Washington team.

Tonight in Indianapolis, the Fever notched their 9th straight home win of the season by beating the visitors, 85-81. What hurts the most about this particular loss is that the Mystics had opportunities. But a cold spell to start the final period, plus a few missed lay-ups, some unforced turnovers, a veritable deluge of Indy free-throws, and a little bad luck added up to a close-but-not-quite-night.

As they did on Sunday against the Monarchs, the Mystics got off to a fast start, "winning" the 1st quarter, 28-18. Mo Currie led the way with 8 points in the first 10 minutes. (Note to Washington Post: more articles please, about Mo's "slump." You cured her!) But the 2nd period belonged to Indy, as they erased the Mystics' entire 10-point lead and then some. At the half, the Fever led 44-41. After the break, the Fever's Katie Douglas reeled off 15 points in the 3rd period. But the Mystics managed to hold the rest of Indiana's line-up to only 4 points. And Washington's frontcourt of Melvin and Langhorne led their team to a 24-point 3rd quarter. So after 30 minutes, it was advantage Mystics, 65-63.

But the Fever don't own the WNBA's longest home win streak without good reason. They hit the Mystics with a 15-2 run to open the final period. But the Mystics, on the other hand, don't give up either. After Indy's run, the Mystics were forced to play catch-up, but still very nearly tied it up. With the clock winding down to single digits, Alana Beard drove the baseline, hit the two point lay-up with 5.8 seconds remaining in the game, to get the Mystics within 2 . . . and she was fouled! Now with so little time left on the clock, no timeouts remaining, and down by 2, AB huddled with her teammates, making sure they were ready to rebound a miss -- an intentional miss. The Mystics' only chance to tie or take the lead was to grab a missed free throw and score in those final seconds. Alana did an excellent job, hitting the iron, sending the ball bouncing away from the basket. But luck was not with Washington, as the ball was tipped into the hands of Katie Douglas. The Mystics fouled Katie, who hit both her free throws and ended up with a game-high and career-best 34 points on the night, securing the win for the Fever.

All five Mystics starters finished in double-figures. Alana led the way with 19; Mo and Chas each added 14; Lindsey had 13; and Crystal, who was scoreless at halftime, scored 11 second-half points. The Mystics outrebounded the Fever by 2, and they outshot the Fever from the field (33 FGs by the Mystics, 24 by the Fever). So how did the Fever win? Free throws! Indy went to the line for 36 attempts, making 28 -- while the Mystics took only 16 freebies, and made only 9. A 4-point difference in the final score. A 19 point difference in made FTs. That pretty much sums it up.

This was one of those coulda shoulda woulda games that -- because it came down to the wire --probably has the Mystics wishing they could have a few do-overs. If only they coulda made that lay-up, not committed that foul, woulda made that free throw . . . who knows, maybe a different outcome. But the Mystics are headed to Madison Square Garden for a Thursday game, and as they say in New York, they need to fugetaboudit now and focus on beating the Liberty. After Thursday, they can -- and indeed must -- focus again on Indy, as the Mystics host the Fever again at the Verizon Center on Sunday. Just maybe the third time against Indy will turn out to be the charm. We hope so.

Injury Report: With a little under 5 minutes remaining in the 2nd quarter, Bernice Mosby collapsed after apparently injuring her ankle. She stayed on the floor, clearly in pain, for an entire Indy possession (The Fever scored playing 5 on 4.) The Mystics called a timeout and B-Mo was helped from the floor by the Mystics' trainer, Navin Hettiarachchi. The good news is that she returned to the game in the final minute of the 4th quarter, so apparently her injury wasn't serious.

Congratulations to . . . Coach Chris Weller!

On Saturday, the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame announced the names of its 2010 Class. Among the six future inductees is Maryland's own former Head Coach, Chris Weller, who retired from coaching after 27 seasons at the helm of the Terrapins. During her tenure, Coach Weller's teams averaged nearly 20 wins per season, won eight (!) ACC Championships, made it to three Final Fours as well as 14 other NCAA tourney appearances.

Coach Weller will be inducted into the Hall of Fame in Knoxville on June 12th (roadtrip?). She will be joined by 5 other 2010 "classmates": Teresa Edwards, Gloria Ray, Teresa Weatherspoon, Leta Andrews and Rebecca Lobo. Very good company!

This is a well-deserved individual honor for Coach Weller. But it also serves to remind us of the long and rich tradition of the Maryland women's basketball program.

Congratulations, Coach Chris Weller!

* * * * * * * * *

Game Day: Mystics @ Fever . . .

Tonight at 7 PM, the Mystics face the Indiana Fever at Conseco Fieldhouse, hoping to avenge their loss of a week ago at the Verizon Center. This is an important game against the team that leads the Eastern Conference, 3 games ahead of the third-place Mystics. If Washington wins tonight, and they get help from the Phoenix Mercury, who are playing the Connecticut Sun at 7:30 PM, the Mystics could finish the night all alone in second place in the East.

BTW, tonight will be the first time that Mystics Coach Julie Plank returns to Indianapolis as a Head Coach. Julie's a Midwesterner who (prior to last season with the Lynx) spent 8 seasons as an Assistant Coach for the Fever. There's a very nice feature about Coach Plank in today's Indianapolis Star, here.

***Blackout???*** While the Sun and Mercury fans will be able to see their teams play live on ESPN2, the BasketCases suspect that this will leave Mystics fans in the dark again tonight, since the league's deal with national broadcasters requires the league to black out Live Access coverage of other games taking place at the same time.

Let's hope that even if the Live Access video is disabled tonight for the Mystics game, the "Play Audio Only" link on the Live Access page will work, so that Mystics fans can at least hear the game.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Lighter Fluid! When you're lookin' to start cookin', sometimes a little goes a long way.

This afternoon at the Phone Booth, the Mystics' lighter fluid was provided by Lindsey Harding, who scorched the visiting Monarchs with 10 points in the first 10 minutes. The BasketCases' (but sadly not the WNBA's) All-Star Lindsey helped stake the Mystics to a 17-point lead at the end of the the first quarter, en route to a 14-point win over Sacramento, 87-73.

As often happens at a summer barbeque, after that initial flare-up, the flames settle down, but the coals -- for a while --continue to burn. And that's what the Mystics did as well. After being on the short end of a 30-13 first quarter, Sacramento fought back to cut the Mystics' 17-point lead to 9 at the half. In the second half, the Monarchs turned up the heat on the Mystics a few times, but the Mystics responded, outscoring the visitors by small margins in each of the final two quarters, thus securing another double-digit win.

The temperature outside the Phone Booth hovered around 90 degrees. Inside, the fans enjoyed every bit of heat the home team generated, as another decent-sized and enthusiatic crowd turned out to cheer the Mystics to their second win in a row.

Though Lindsey provided the ignition, driving to the basket early and often (finishing with 16 points), it was Crystal Langhorne who led all scorers for the second consecutive game. Lang finished with 19 points and 8 rebounds (also a game high). But she didn't do it without a lot of help from her teammates. Time and again, Lang would slip into the paint and a teammate would find her, allowing Crystal to finish the play with a relatively easy lay-up. Practically everyone on the team assisted a Langhorne basket tonight! Let's face it, Crystal's the consummate finisher. By this point in the season, her Mystics teammates have figured that out (something those of us who followed her collegiate career at Maryland have known for a long time) and are becoming increasingly generous in dishing her the ball. Two other Mystics also hit the double figures in scoring -- Mo Currie added 12 and Chasity Melvin had 10.

The Mystics, with a record of 9-7, are all alone in 3rd place in the Eastern Conference, and now hit the road for their next two games. On Tuesday, they travel to Indy for a re-match against the Conference-leading Fever, and on Thursday, it's Mystics vs Liberty in Madison Square Garden, a game that can be seen on NBA TV. Washington returns home next Sunday for another 4 PM showdown with Indiana.

It's certainly been fun at the Phone Booth of late (including today), so we expect the fans will be back on Sunday to welcome their team home. Hopefully when the Mystics return they'll still own a winning record. And hopefully (with a different officiating crew than last Tuesday's!) the Mystics -- and their fans -- can keep the hot fun of this summertime going . . . and going and going.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

In the House

Of course the Mystics were in the house, as were the Chicago Sky. But tonight the host team enjoyed themselves while making their guests feel decidedly unwelcome. For the second time this season, Washington topped Chicago at the Verizon Center, 75-64.

Finally this evening, fans were treated to a game that featured 4 complete -- and fun -- quarters of Mystics basketball. For a respectable -- but modest -- crowd on a Thursday night, the Phone Booth was rockin. The fans could've stayed home and watched on ESPN2, but they came anyway. Lots of positive energy in the house, and lots of folks having a good time!

As for the game, Washington raced out to an early lead, thanks in large part to 8 first quarter points by Crystal Langhorne, plus solid contributions from several other Mystics players. One of those contributors, reserve PG Nikki Blue, played only the final 2:07 of the first half. But Blue used her limited playing time extremely well. Nikki drove to the basket and scored on a short floater; she fed Crystal for an assist; and, moments later, she grabbed a defensive rebound. Nikki also came oh-so-close to hitting a 3 as time expired at the end of the half! Bluuuue (!) and the entire Mystics team left the floor to a loud enthusiastic ovation, as the Mystics were up at the break, 38-24.

In the second half, the Mystics held the Sky at bay . . . extending the lead to 15 points after 3 quarters, and stifling Chicago's 4th quarter attempt at a comeback. Down the stretch in the final period, ought-to-be All Star Lindsey Harding and super-reserve Matee Ajavon hit big shots that helped their team coast to a double-digit victory. Lindsey and Matee finished in double figures, with 15 & 14 points respectively. Lindsey also dished out 6 assists and chased down 5 rebounds! But game-high scoring honors went to Crystal Langhorne, who recorded another double-double this season, 16 points & 10 rbs.

Tonight, the Mystics beat the Sky with a well-balanced effort on both ends of the floor, and not only improved their record to 8-7, but played a complete game . . . something that's been eluding them of late. When play resumes after the short break for Saturday's All-Star Game in Connecticut, hopefully the Mystics can carry this momentum into Sunday's meeting with the Monarchs (who posted a convincing win of their own against the Liberty in Madison Square Garden tonight).

Also in the house . . .

ESPN2 Announcer Carolyn Peck -- here interviewing Coach Julie Plank.

Detroit Shock guard -- and WNBA All-Star reserve -- Katie Smith, stopping by Washington before heading to Mohegan Sun arena for Saturday's game.

Cedric The Entertainer found the game mighty entertaining!

And naturally, with 60% of her 2006 National Championship-winning starting line-up (Lang, Marissa and KT) playing tonight, Maryland Head Coach Brenda Frese couldn't possibly miss this game!

Photo Credit: DC BasketCases

Mystics vs Sky: The Rubber Match

The Chicago Sky (including Kristi Toliver) return to the Verizon Center at 7 PM this evening for their second and final visit to Washington of the regular season. This will be the third meeting this year between these two teams. Previously, each held serve on their home court.

And for those of you who can't make it in person, no need to mess with Live Access tonight! Nope, for the first and only time this summer, a Mystics game will be nationally televised . . . on ESPN2 in HD no less!

Now, while you're killing time until the tip-off, be sure to catch up on your reading: Two very flattering looks at Crystal Langhorne's sophomore pro season -- one by Katie Carrera in the Washington Post and one by Mike Fratto in the Washigton Times. Plus a terrific feature in USA Today by Brian Kapur about Alana Beard "get[ting] her due." And finally, in the latest installment of Marissa Coleman's not-to-be-missed WNBA Rookie Blog, we follow the continuing saga of the trials and tribulations of Marissa's life with her Jack Russell terrier pup, Boston. (Dog Whisperer Cesar Millan, Riss needs your help . . . now!)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

"They're Not Bad on Purpose."

At this evening's pre-game chalk talk, Mystics GM Angela Taylor fielded the always predictable question about officiating in the WNBA. "They're not bad on purpose," she told the fans in attendance. But at the conclusion of tonight's game, we were really left wondering.

The BasketCases have seen plenty of interesting officiating over the years of following the Mystics. Most of the time we conclude that, yes, it's bad, but it's often kind of random. Bad calls, missed calls that go against the Mystics; bad calls, missed calls that go against our opponent. It usually balances out . . . more or less. That's why in years of writing this blog, we rarely complain about the officiating.

But tonight was one of those nights when, from tip-off to final buzzer, we kept shaking our heads in disbelief. How could three officials, all on the same night, get so many calls just flat-out wrong? We don't know, but they did.

The Mystics lost to the Eastern Conference-leading Indiana Fever, 82-70. 12 points ties the largest loss margin for Washington this season. But make no mistake, this was a much closer game, despite the final score. The Mystics logged 40 minutes of intense, competitive basketball. But sometimes, going 5 on 8, it's hard to play your best game.

For the third game in a row, Lindsey Harding led the team in scoring, with 17 points -- plus 6 assists, 5 boards, 2 steals and 1 block! She's playing like a WNBA All-Star even if she was passed over for a spot on this season's ASG roster. Crystal Langhorne and Alana Beard also finished in double figures, wih 15 and 13 points, respectively.

There's no denying the Fever are a very good team. Before losing to Connecticut on Sunday, they had won 11 in a row. To their credit, they hit some big 3-pointers when they needed to and made their free throws down the stretch. All Star Tamika Catchings (named after St. Tamika, Patron Saint of Basketball Officials) scored a game-high 28 points and hit all 14 of her free throw attempts. (FYI to the fans who reported a burning smell emanating from the tunnel leading to the officials' locker room: that was nothing to worry about. BasketCases' sources have confirmed that it was simply Cameron, Kevin and Marat -- tonight's referees -- lighting votive candles as they prayed to St. Tamika before the game and during half-time.)

With tonight's loss, the Mystics are again at .500, with a record of 7-7. Fortunately, they don't have long to wait for another chance to get back to a winning percentage. The Chicago Sky (including Kristi Toliver) make their second appearance of the season at the Phone Booth this Thursday at 7 PM for a nationally-televised game being shown on ESPN2.

Between now and then, the BasketCases are going to light some votive candles of their own, praying that Cameron, Kevin and Marat are occupied elsewhere Thursday evening.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Apology Accepted.

For those readers who don't follow Kristen Mann ("dreamingtree44") on Twitter, the BasketCases are pleased to share with you the following tweet from Kristen that she twittered this morning:
dreamingtree44 A HUGE apology out 2 all wnba fans n sth's 4 Mystics regarding my tweet abt the zoo yesterday. I am terribly sorry n take it back!!!
Now we can all move on to focus on more important things, like beating the Conference-leading Indiana Fever tomorrow at 7 PM at the Phone Booth. See you there!

Go Mystics!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

You Are What You Tweet

The cyberspace fad known as Twitter has not escaped the attention of WNBA players, including members of the Mystics, many of whom are spending a little of their free time letting the world know -- in 140 characters -- just what they are thinking or doing. Nor has it escaped the attention of the WNBA or teams (including the Mystics) who encourage fans to tweet about games, players and the league. And so it should come as no surprise that many fans (including one of the BasketCases) follow the Mystics players who are tweeting.

Some of the Mystics' tweets range from the very informative (e.g., letting us know about horrible airport delays en route to the Atlanta game), to the inspirational (Nikki Blue gets the prize there!), to the mildly amusing (e.g., photos of doggie baths or Alana's home-baked carrot cake), to the downright mundane (e.g., that Lang "borrowed" a shopping cart to haul a couple of cartons of bottled water across the street to her apartment).

But sometimes the players' Tweets make us wonder whether the player tweeting actually realizes that what she posts on Twitter can be -- and is -- read by anyone with access to the worldwide web . . . including Mystics fans. For example, in Atlanta on July 3rd, after one of the Mystics' worst losses of the season, a few of the players tweeted that they were having one of their best times ever out on the town with family and friends. Not that fans want the players to be miserable, but after after watching the Mystics lose a game marked by a considerable lack of effort by the team, fans would like to feel that the players at least share some of their disappointment. When the tweets are all about what fun the players are having post-game, some fans find that surprising, not in a good way.

But today's Tweet by "dreamingtree44" (who has been identified as none other than Mystics reserve forward Kristen Mann) absolutely takes the cake. As many of our loyal readers know, today, from 10am-1pm, the Mystics held their annual event for Season Ticketholders. For once, the summer weather cooperated and it promised to be a lovely day at the National Zoo featuring a scavenger hunt and lunch for players and fans.

But one person clearly was not excited about today's activity. Here's what "dreamingtree44" tweeted this morning:

"UGH! Who schedules these damn events!?! Ill be at the effin' zoo w/ sth's all damn day! Today, I hate my job!!"

Whoa! Way to go, dt44. Great job insulting the very fans whose team loyalty provides you with a paycheck! And super job insulting the Mystics' front office whose hardworking staff put a great deal of time and effort into planning such a wonderful event for the fans.

If "dreamingtree44" really is Kristen Mann as we have been informed, a Tweet like this is not only insulting but is also really stupid. With so few WNBA jobs this season, there are plenty of players (Laurie Koehn and Sheryl Swoopes, for example) who would just love to be interacting with fans as a member of a WNBA team. And the BasketCases know people who would love to be season-ticketholders this year, but can't. Why? Because they are out of work. In this economy, they have plenty of company. So, dt44, as a young woman with plenty of opportunities (both on and off the baskeball court) ahead of you, to hear you complain about having a job that OMG requires you to spend several hours on a beautiful day at the zoo . . . well, it's not only insulting, but it's stupid.

Kristen, if "dreamingtree44" really is you, here's a BasketCases tweet right back at you: "Grow up! And btw u owe the STHs & Stics FO staff an apology." (We didn't even need 140 characters to say it!)

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Mystics Won, But.

The Mystics were up by 16 points over New York at the end of the 3rd period, BUT were outscored 10-25 in the 4th, so they only won by the slimmest of margins -- a single point, 68-67. Way better than losing by one point, BUT far too close for comfort. We were hoping that tonight we might be treated to a game that wasn't decided by the final rebound, final free throw, final inbound play, final foul call or final shot . . . BUT it wasn't to be.

Most of the Mystics played somewhat below average tonight (as did their opponent, the Liberty). BUT fortunately, there was one member of the home team who played consistently well throughout the game, making big plays . . . point guard Lindsey Harding. Lindsey led all scorers with 23 points. She also added 5 assists and 7 rebounds, and was a perfect 8 of 8 from the free throw line. With the game still in doubt, Lindsey's final free throw gave the Mystics a 4-point lead in the final seconds that sealed the win for Washington. New York hit a three as the final buzzer sounded, BUT Lindsey's free-throw made it irrelevant.

With every game, Lindsey seems to be coming into her own as the floor general and one of the real leaders of the Mystics team. In the BasketCases' opinion, she is playing at an All-Star level. We would be shocked (and disappointed) if she isn't named as a reserve to the Eastern Conference All-Star team by the Conference coaches this coming week. We hope to see Lindsey join her Mystics teammate (and former college teammate) All-Star starter Alana Beard in Connecticut next Saturday.

But before that game, the Mystics face the Eastern Conference leading Indiana Fever at Verizon Center on Tuesday, and the Chicago Sky make a return visit to Washington on Thursday.

As we reported this morning, this was Alex "13 Teams, 1 Journey" Chambers's night at the Phone Booth. It was a pleasure to meet him and we hope he enjoys the rest of his tour through the WNBA. (And Alex, thanks for the shirts!)

Photo Credits: DC BasketCases

Game Day: New York, New York!

Start spreading the news,
They’re coming today
Can't miss being part of this - against New York

Time to lace up those shoes,
and get ready to play
Gotta steal the heart from them - New York, New York

Send a wake up to the city that doesn't sleep
Show 'em we’re queen of the hill - top of the heap

Little DC blues, are melting away
Gonna make a brand new start of it - against New York

If we can beat 'em here,
we can beat 'em anywhere

We’re ready for you - New York, New York!

* * * * * * * * * * * *
Frequent Flyer Miles . . . The WNBA's and the Mystics' media arms have prompted stories in today's Washington Post and Washington Times about the very same subject -- Alex Chambers. Alex is a fan from Phoenix who's in the midst of a "13 Teams, 1 Journey" tour in which he will see every WNBA team play in its home arena in the span of 34 days (and will sample a lot of airport food along the way!).

Alex, an elementary school special ed teacher, has dedicated the tour to the memory of a friend who died of breast cancer, and is hoping to raise more awareness about the disease. The league has given him media credentials, and he's been interviewing players and posting videos of his interviews online. You can follow Alex's journey via his blog, here. The tour brings Alex to Washington tonight, a city he knows well (he earned his Masters degree at Gallaudet). So if you see Alex at the game later, be sure to say hello . . . let's give him a big Verizon Center welcome!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Camp Day Kiddies Did Their Part. They were LOUD and enthusiastic, cheering on the home team for the full 40 minutes. But despite that audible support -- 17,000 screaming (mostly) children equipped with 17,000 rattling maracas -- the Mystics fell to the visiting San Antonio Silver Stars by a single point, 78-79.

The first 10 minutes of today's game were closely contested as the two teams traded narrow leads. In the first 3 minutes of the second period, the Mystics added 10 points, opening up a 6-point lead over San Antonio. But in the final 7 minutes before halftime, Washington suffered a drought, managing only 4 more points before heading to the locker room. Meanwhile, the Silver Stars got open looks and hit their shots. End result: by halftime, that 6-point Mystics lead had turned into a 9-point deficit.

In the 3rd period, 3 players, Alana, Lindsey and Lang, accounted for the all of the Mystics' scoring. The ACC-trio even managed to outscore San Antonio in that period by 2 points. But without help from the other 2 positions, they battled to keep from losing ground.

At the start of the 4th quarter, with the Mystics trailing by 7, Coach Plank made some adjustments. The team needed to play catch-up basketball, so she went with a 3-guard offense, adding Matee Ajavon to the line-up alongside Alana and Lindsey. Less than a minute into the period, Matee scored her first 2 points of the game . . . and then just kept on scoring! With a little less than a minute remaining in the period -- and the game -- Matee scored her 12th, 13th & 14th points! Matee's hot hand ignited the Mystics' run that closed the gap to a single point. However, despite holding San Antonio scoreless in the final 47 seconds, the Mystics were unable to score and pull ahead. An exciting ending, yes. A happy ending, no.

Besides Matee, three other players scored in double figures -- Lindsey, Alana and Lang. Lindsey and Alana each played a little more than 37 minutes and scored 18 and 17 points, respectively. Lang and Bernice Mosby (both off the bench) handled most of the frontcourt duties in the second half. Lang finished with 10 points (& 6 rebounds) and B-Mo, who played the entire 4th quarter, added 8.

The other starters, Mo Currie, Nakia Sanford and Chasity Melvin, combined for only 9 points while adding 8 turnovers. Unfortunately, Marissa Coleman was also ineffective this afternoon. Riss is not yet playing like she was before her injury. Mo and Marissa, the Mystics' two small forwards, managed to score only 4 points today, total. Frankly, the BasketCases think it's a miracle that this game was as close as it was, given the lack of production from the SF position and from our starting frontcourt. Matee was almost a miracle-worker, but not quite.

Including today's defeat, 4 of the Mystics' 6 losses this season have been by 6 points or fewer. That's the good news. This young retooled Washington team has competed hard in practically every game. Alana's been playing like the All-Star she now officially is. Lindsey has upgraded the Mystics at the point guard position dramatically. Crystal Langhorne has turned into a steady contributor, game in and game out. And other players, like Matee today or Marissa before her injury, have had big games that really contributed to the team's performance. All good.

But losing 4 games by slim margins is also the bad news. We're now far enough into the season to see that the Mystics still have some real weaknesses, particularly at certain positions. As a result, the team's had difficulty closing out and winning some of these tight ballgames. The Mystics' last two losses have been by a combined total of 3 points! Ouch. But as frustrating as a game like today's can be, the BasketCases are seeing a team this season that competes and doesn't quit. So we're still feeling hopeful as we look ahead -- in the short term -- to Saturday's game against the NY Liberty and -- in the long term -- to the rest of the season and beyond.

Photo Credit: DC BasketCases

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


This evening Mystics star Alana Beard was named a starter in the WNBA All-Star Game to be held July 25th at Mohegan.

Averaging 19 pts, 3 steals, 2 assists & 4 rebounds per game, AB has certainly been playing at an all-star level this season.

A well deserved honor!

Have fun, AB . . . and bring home a win for the East.

* * * * * * *
Wednesday morning update . . . Katie Carrera writes in the Post about the Mystics' intention to clamp down harder on defense. Mike Fratto in the Washington Times writes about Alana's "rebounding." And USA Today takes a look at the starters for the All-Star Game, including Alana Beard from the "upstart Washington Mystics."

Photo Credit:

Camp Day 2009!

Tomorrow (Wednesday), 11:30 AM. Mystics vs San Antonio Silver Stars.

Remember the Girl Scout Motto: Be Prepared!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Team ACC

The Mystics were clearly excited to be playing at home tonight. After returning from their 4-game road trip (1-3), they treated their fans -- who hadn't seen them at the Phone Booth in three weeks -- to a win over the visiting LA Sparks.

This turned out to be a very exciting game, though in the early going it looked to be a Mystics blow-out. The Mystics raced out to a 22-7 lead over the Sparks in the first quarter, a lead that grew to 24 early in the 2nd period. Though LA made a run before the break, Washington still took a 38-24 lead into the locker room. But what really stood out for the BasketCases watching that first 20 minutes of action was that the Mystics' first 29 points were all scored by players from ACC schools! Alana Beard led the charge, scoring the Mystics' first 13 points of the game, all in the first period. Then AB's ACC teammates began chipping in, stretching the ACC scoring to 29 before the Big East's Matee Ajavon hit a free throw with about 6 minutes left in the second, recording the first point for the Mystics by a non-ACC player.

Things got dicier for the home team in the second half. Let's face it . . . it's pretty rare for any team to maintain such a large lead over the experienced and talented Sparks team. And sure enough, after the break, LA began to claw their way back from that 14-point half-time deficit, until they finally tied the score at 63 with 3:32 left in the game. The momentum clearly had shifted to the team in yellow.

But moments later, Coach Plank called a time out, after which she sent an all-ACC line-up back onto the floor: Alana, Lindsey, Chas, Marissa, and Crystal (2 Duke, 1 NC State and 2 Maryland). And in that final 3-1/2 minutes, those 5 ACCers shut the Sparks down. Team ACC finished the game on a 12-0 run . . . they did not allow the Sparks to score even a single point the rest of the way! Final score: 75-63, Mystics. And of those 75 points, only 5 were scored by non-ACC players.

Alana Beard turned in another phenomenal performance, leading all scorers with 26. She also added 4 steals and 5 boards. AB is definitely having an all-star caliber season and we certainly hope to see her named to the WNBA All Star team. Lindsey Harding, who had 11 points and 5 assists tonight, continues to impress us as a floor general. She takes care of the ball, runs the offense well and isn't shy about assuming leadership.

Chas also scored in double figures tonight (14), including a critical basket late in the 4th quarter that helped seal the victory. Lang had another good outing coming off the bench. She was the game's leading rebounder (11 boards, plus adding 8 points) . . . fighting for balls against, among others, the much (much!) larger Vanessa Hayden. Nakia added 8 rebounds, helping the Mystics, as a team, to out-rebound the Sparks 40-30. Meanwhile Marissa, still a bit rusty on offense after her injury, scored 7 points coming off the bench. But, perhaps most important, Riss did an excellent job defending Candace Parker, who was held to just 2 points in her third game back after giving birth this spring.

Of the more than 12,000 fans in the Phone Booth tonight, quite a few were cheering for the Sparks. Though she's hidden from view, the BasketCases can assure you that inside that pink sack there's a very young Sparks fan, Candace Parker's daughter, Lailaa -- shown here with her proud papa, Candace's husband (NBA player and former ACC player), Shelden Williams.

Once again tonight, the Mystics showed their fans that they have come to play this season. Even after their big lead slipped away, they did not give up and found a way to win. Having seen so much disappointing basketball from this franchise (last season in particular), we have to say this is refreshing . . . not to mention fun.

Photo Credits: DC BasketCases

Tuesday, July 07, 2009


The Mystics lost to the Lynx tonight in overtime, 96-94. Although the Mystics came out with more focus and intensity than they've displayed of late, it was difficult for them to find an offensive rhythm as the whistle-happy refs kept sending players to the free throw line. In a game that did not appear to be terribly physical, the two teams nonetheless combined for a whopping 77 free throw attempts. Unfortunately for Washington, Minny came out on the winning end of the stat sheet there, hitting 31 of 42 from the line while the Mystics scored on 25 of 35. Game, set, match.

There were some positive takeaways from tonight's game. Most important, Marissa Coleman was back in action (albeit showing some obvious rust from not having played for several weeks). B-Mo made an impressive return debut as a Mystic, coming off the bench to score 10 points and pull down 4 boards in a little less than 15 minutes of play. And Lindsey Harding, who led all scorers with 27, showed again how important she is to this team -- the Mystics lost ground during the second quarter when Harding was on the bench with 3 personal fouls.

The Mystics have now completed their road trip with a disappointing 1-3 record, dropping to 5-5 for the season. They return to Washington for a 6-game home stand that begins on Saturday with a match against the Sparks at 7 PM. Let's hope the Mystics return to their winning ways once back in the familiar environs of the Phone Booth.

Hey Mystics Fans . . . Here's a Tuesday morning Treat Tweet** for you:
MarissaC_25On the way to shootaround....guess who is suiting up tonight?!?!
Anybody got an idea? The BasketCases are stumped. We wonder who she could possibly be talking about?? B-Mo, maybe? Hmmm, this is a tough one!

But what we do know for certain is that the Mystics face the Lynx on the road in Minneapolis this evening. Game time: 8 PM ET. You should be able to follow all the action on WNBA Live Access.

Go Mystics!


Monday, July 06, 2009

Breaking News!

The Mystics announced this afternoon that they have released Tasha Humphrey and re-signed Bernice Mosby.

While the team's announcement gave no reason for the roster change, it's been pretty obvious that Tasha has not lived up to the promise she showed when she was acquired last August in the trade with Detroit for Taj.

Let's hope that B-Mo will be a real contributor. She'll get her first chance to show her stuff again when the Mystics take on the Lynx tomorrow in Minny at 8PM EDT. The game will be shown on Live Access.

Welcome back, B-Mo.

And in some really welcome news . . . Katie Carrera reports this afternoon that Marissa has "participated fully in two consecutive practices"and just might be back tomorrow night! Let's hope so!!!

Friday, July 03, 2009

The BasketCases Have Decided to put about as much effort into this post as the Mystics put into their game tonight in Atlanta. In other words, not much.

If you watched the webcast, you're probably either asleep by now or busy trying to recapture those lost 2 and a half hours of your life. If you didn't see it, then here's what you need to know:

The Mystics lost 72-65, but the game wasn't really as close as the final score suggests. The Mystics had more turnovers than a well-stocked bakery, 28 in all. At times it appeared that the Mystics thought their teammates were wearing white, the way they threw the ball to Dream players over and over again. Atlanta scored 23 points off the Mystics' turnovers.

The Mystics hit 2 of 11 shots from beyond the arc . . . both by Matee Ajavon and both coming in the last 2 minutes, meaning that Washington was 0-9 from long range in the first 38 minutes. Prior to hitting those 3s, Matee was 0-6 from the field. Meanwhile, Mo Currie was 1-8 for the game, including missing all 3 of her attempts from outside the arc. And reserve Tasha Humphrey's only offensive contributions (in about 6 minutes of playing time) consisted of launching and missing 2 treys. The BasketCases are at a loss to understand how a "big" like Tasha seems incapable of taking a shot closer than 21 feet from the basket.

Once again, free throw shooting was hardly the Mystics' forte. 65% tonight.

The only area where the Mystics performed well was on the glass, outrebounding Atlanta 40-29. Unfortunately, many of those boards simply led to bad passes and turnovers. Time and again, the Mystics failed to capitalize.

Three Mystics finished in double figures, Alana, Lindsey and Lang (16, 11 & 10 points, respectively). Lindsey was the only Mystics player on the floor who really seemed to bring some energy to tonight's game. But it wasn't contagious. This was an ugly, turnover and foul-ridden game, featuring plenty of poor shooting. In other words, it was one the team -- and their fans -- would like to forget.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Look Ma, No Crutches!

Thanks to ("SPM"), the BasketCases are pleased to report that Marissa Coleman has been spotted (at least momentarily) walking without crutches!

The photo above was taken by SPM photographer Carmen Santiago on Tuesday at the conclusion of the Mystics' win over the San Antonio Silver Stars.

Also, yesterday on the RebKell message board, "beeball" posted that his/her brother spotted ". . . a Mystics player not in uniform shooting the lights out prior to the game while both teams [we]re in the locker room for pregame." The message board consensus was that this player had to have been Marissa. And, of course, we all know that whatever we read on message boards is always 100% correct! LOL!

This morning, SPM also posted a short Q&A from an interview with Marissa in Chicago. Riss told writer Jim Niendorff that "Hopefully I won't have to be out the entire 4-6 weeks. " We hope so too. You can find the link to the full SPM feature here.

Photo Credit: