Friday, June 03, 2011

We Got Next

The 15th season of the WNBA kicks off tonight when Maya Moore and the Lynx tip off against Candace Parker and the Sparks in L.A. at 11 PM ET. We can hardly believe it’s been 15 years!

We still laugh when we recall talking with a couple of friends – not sports fans – who (15 years ago) saw the ads for that inaugural season, and spent time parsing the new league’s slogan -- (“We”-“Got”-“Next”) -- only to conclude this combination of easily-defined, recognizable words made no sense whatsoever when linked together. (We educated them. LOL!)

That summer, the BCs were fans of the NY Liberty; there was no Mystics team yet. We still remember “Every Friday Night” on the Lifetime Network. How we looked forward to those games! Webcasts didn’t exist. As for basketball bloggers? What’s a blog?

We’ve grown old and gray (or grayer) in the 15 years since (and this most recent Mystics’ off-season certainly didn’t help). We still love the WNBA; and we still love women’s basketball. But we have a confession to make: we don’t love the Mystics quite as much as we used to.

So you, our readers, should expect some changes in our blog this summer. A blog is a labor of love. Maintaining it at the level we have for the past five years requires a great deal of “labor” (and a lot of love to justify all the labor.)

Specifically, this means we’re not planning to attend all the Mystics home games. So you won’t get as much “eyewitness” commentary. This also means we may not stay up several extra hours after an evening/late night game to post about the game. And, as you may have noticed already, we haven’t blogged about every piece of Mystics or WNBA news that has crossed our path. But that doesn’t mean we’ll be ignoring the Mystics altogether, either. It just means our blog won’t be business as usual.

That being said, we do have some observations we’d like to share with you about the 2011 Mystics. So let’s get to it . . .

The Mystics just finished the preseason a very promising 2-0, but obviously that slate is now wiped clean, as every team starts the regular season (the games that really count) at 0-0. The Mystics open their 2011 season on the road: first up, they face last year’s Eastern Conference 5th place team, the Connecticut Sun, tomorrow (Saturday) at 7 PM. The game isn’t being televised, but (like all WNBA games) should be available on Live Access. Then it’s on to Atlanta on Thursday for a game that will be nationally televised on ESPN2, followed by the home opener at the Phone Booth on Saturday, June 11, against Chicago.

The Washington team that plays Connecticut at Mohegan tomorrow has a very different look than the team we all watched last summer. In addition to the (unwarranted) coaching/GM changes, the roster has undergone, while not quite a complete makeover, nevertheless, a significant one.

How significant? Well, of the 11 players, six are new to the team. And one of the returning five, Mo Currie, is out for the entire season following ACL surgery. Which leaves four returnees suiting up. And one of those four, Alana Beard, didn’t play at all last summer. So that means that only three players (and only one starter) return from the team that finished the regular season 1st in the Eastern Conference last year. That’s pretty significant!

Here’s how the newly redesigned Mystics stack up: At the 1, veteran guard Kelly Miller (twin of the much-loved former Mystic Coco) will be running the point in place of Lindsey Harding. Jasmine Thomas (rookie from Duke), who interned for the Mystics last summer, will back up Kelly at the PG spot.

At the 2, the good news is that Alana is back. But the bad news is that she’s struggled somewhat in the preseason. It’s possible it may take a little time before she’s the Alana we knew pre-injury. Alana’s back-up will be returning reserve Matee Ajavon. At the 3, look to see Marissa Coleman get the starting nod . . . not to mention another opportunity to display her talents at the pro level. With Mo unavailable, Marissa’s back-up will probably be G/F Karima Christmas (another rookie from the Blue Devils).

The Mystics frontcourt also has an extremely different look. Veterans Nakia Sanford (signed as a free agent by Phoenix) and Chasity Melvin (waived this week) are gone, as is last season’s first-round draft pick, Jacinta Monroe (traded to Seattle and later waived by the Storm). The only returning frontcourt player (and the Mystics’ only returning starter) is (BCs favorite) Crystal Langhorne. Lang will be joined by the talented 6’3” PF/C Nicky Anosike (4th year player from Tennessee) and two rookies (both first rounders), 6’1” PF Victoria Dunlap from the University of Kentucky and 6’6” C Ta’shia Phillips from Xavier University. A very young frontcourt, indeed.

Actually, with the exception of veterans Kelly and Alana, the entire Mystics team is young compared with most WNBA line-ups.

With so much youth and so many personnel changes, we view this team as a work in process. And the process begins tomorrow at 7 PM at the Reservation. We’ll be watching (if Live Access cooperates).

But, win or lose, the BCs aren’t expecting tomorrow’s game, or any one game for that matter, to answer the question that’s been nagging us as we’ve seen the most successful Mystics team ever be pulled apart over the last eight months. And that question is -- “Will the reinvented 2011 Mystics build on the success of last season, or will they slip backwards?” It’s possible it may take 34 games to answer, but that’s the question we’ll be asking all season.

Meanwhile, congratulations to the WNBA on reaching the 15-year mark. As fans of women’s basketball, we look forward to 15 more . . . and then some. So glad that we got next.


At 3:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As always, a great summary of how many of the fans are feeling. So glad you're back, even if it won't be at quite the level we're used to!

At 5:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for putting into words what we have been feeling since the fall. We also, in a way have moved on and maybe we will see you at a game or two. We will be moving to Wilmington in the fall and can't wait to watch Cythnia Cooper's team next year at UNC-Wilmington. We too will continue to love and support womens basketball. Mobeard!

At 7:24 PM, Anonymous Section120 said...

I too suffer from Mystics apathy. I wish I had not renewed my seat. If I knew ONE other person who wanted to go to the games, I would give away at least half my tickets. Unfortunately I've been asking friends and coworkers and everyone is either trying to get rid of their tickets too or not interested in the Mystics.

I thought I was a huge WNBA fan. Since the Mystics have dorked themselves up, I'm less interested in the entire league. Congratulations Shiela and Ted, you're not only hurting yourself with the nonsense, you're hurting the league.

At 8:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As always, you say it much more eloquently then I ever could. Excellent summary of how I'm feeling this season. I've been a season ticket holder since day one and I've never been this apathetic about the season starting. I'll really miss your insightful and extremely humorous comments.

To Section120: I'm with you. I wish I hadn't renewed my seat either. As they say, misery loves company and we're in good company this season. :-)
Section 111

At 8:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

what happened to the mystics in the offseason is just beyond explanation. I'm afraid it's going to be a longggg season. We just don't have enough scoring. Beard will struggle early, Marissa hasn't proven to be a scorer--she takes very few shots even, Lang will be solid of course but it's not enough. A longgg season. Mo's injury really hurts and clearly Lindsey leaving was team changing. I'm almost afraid to watch us play against Atlanta. I mean national TV and we could get blown out of the water. I think we will play good defense and hopefully we can rebound but scoring is going to be a BIG challenge. I really can't understand why Marissa isn't a better offensive player. I know the pro's is different than college but I still don't understand why she struggles so much scoring. Last year Mo took it to the basket a lot. I hope Marissa will learn to do the same.

At 2:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Though disgusted with what happened in the off-season with the Mystics, I'm MORE of a fan of the WNBA this year than in any other year.

There's so much talent in the league, and it'll be a privilege to see it displayed by the visiting teams at Verizon. We'll get to see Sheryl Swoopes probably for the last time. It might also be the last season for Tina Thompson, though she hasn't indicated she's retiring. Candace Parker is back and playing great. Maya Moore is the new phenom. Diana Taurasi is rested and hungry.

We'll get to see LJ, Bird, Katie, Cappie, Liz, Becky, Taj, Angel, Sloot, Big Syl, and Catch.

I'm a fan of the WNBA, of which the Mystics are a part. I'll root for them because I'm a homer,and I'll appreciate all the great players we'll get to see because there IS a WNBA.

It'll be a great summer.

At 1:15 PM, Anonymous KCH27 said...

I can't help it . . . I've been frustrated and hurt by the off-season changes, that I too thought were unnecessary . . . but now that the season is here, I can't help but be excited. Frankly, I cannot wait! No matter how the season plays out -- it could be really really bad or really really good -- I will still be there, every game, cheering as loudly as possible.


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

Just watched the game via Live Access, so again, the Mystics are starting over...I, like you, assumed success would be built upon! Agree with your sentiments completely. As one of many founding, long-time, long long long suffering fans, I no longer believe anything the organization promises. I will cheer the Mystics players efforts, and the WNBA, but I am no longer totally devoted! It's just more Mystics bad business.
Section 112

At 1:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have always liked the balance of devoted fan and objectivity in your blog. I am saddened to see you abandon the players you have been so supportive of years, like Crystal and Marissa. The players on the court did not have anything to do with management decisions, nor did the current coaches-- they are all giving their all. We are privileged to have a professional women's team in DC. I plan to be there to support then more than ever. Being for them part of the time is not an option.

At 2:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

B.C's, et al, how will you feel when there are no Mystics? That will probably happen if there's a really big drop off in fan support. I too have no more use for Dr. Johnson and Mr. Leonsis, but I won't take it out on the girls.

At 6:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In reading the comments, I feel the Basketcases are not abandoning the players - they love basketball too much for that. But there is difference emotionally. You can not keep being made promises, only to see them broken more than once.

At 8:32 PM, Blogger fr mike said...

:( BC, thanks for your blog. Yes I try with some success to taste your disappointment in the heads of the organizaation. And I love your love for the players. I will certainly miss your pregame and post game commentary, so enlightening, humorous, and entertaining, The professional sport writers could learn a lot from you. But I will still enjoy your blog. GO CDBC! GO MYSTICS!

At 6:41 AM, Blogger BasketCases said...

Dear Anonymous 1:23pm and 2:22pm:

Where did you ever see us say we are "abandoning" the players? We find your comments personally offensive. We have been fans of the WNBA since day one. This entire post celebrates the league and our hope that it survives and thrives.

If you don't enjoy reading our point of view, you are free not to visit our blog.

-- BC


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