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 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.
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?