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
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
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
, 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