Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Lunch with Linda. 12 Noon this Friday, June 2nd, Mystics fans have an opportunity to join GM Linda Hargrove for lunch at the ESPN Zone. According to an email from the Mystics, "she'll tell you all about the Mystics' moves, trades, and changes, what the team's 2-1 start means, and her expectations for the WNBA's 10th anniversary season." Having attended Linda's "chalk talks" last season, the BasketCases can tell you from firsthand experience that Linda's talks with Mystics fans are refreshingly candid, very informative and lots of fun!

Linda Hargrove, D.D.S. Now the BasketCases know what you're thinking: you're thinking "I'd really like to go, but how am I gonna get off work and over to the ESPN Zone in the middle of a workday?" Well, not to worry, the BasketCases have the solution: loose fillings! For whatever reason, the BasketCases have a premonition that a veritable epidemic of loose fillings will strike Mystics fans throughout the region on Friday morning! So if you are one of those unfortunate fans experiencing a dental emergency *wink* on Friday, simply tell your boss as you walk out the door: "Got a loose filling, my dentist is squeezing me in...but I may have to wait a while, so I could be gone a few hours." (Note: if you place your hand on one side of your jaw while you're saying this, that's always good for a little realism...but don't forget which side in case the boss asks you later.) Now there is one potential problem: multiple Mystics fans in the same workplace! In this case, you need to work as a team and (unlike President Bush) plan your "exit strategy" in advance. One of you can go with "loose fillings," but don't everybody try it. You need to be somewhat creative. If you're a woman and you have a male boss, the old nonspecific "female problems" and need to rush off to see your Ob/Gyn usually works well. Anyway, you get the idea. So, loyal BasketCase readers, whatever you do, don't let something as inconsquential as your livelihood get in the way of what's really important: Lunch with Linda! Noon, Friday at the ESPN Zone...don't be late!

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Update: Mystics DO NOT Re-sign Aya Traore. According to an article in St. George, Utah's The Spectrum, Aya, a 6'1" Forward, from Purdue University was expected to sign today with the Mystics. A reliable source has assured the BasketCases that, in fact, the Mystics are not signing Traore today.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Oh No, Not Again!!!! Another Terps Overtime! This one in Austria. Terps win, of course.

On this Memorial Day, as we remember and honor those who have courageously served our country, the BasketCases would like to vent about one of our pet peeves: the perversion of the National Anthem into the National Performance Piece. At the Mystics' game this past Saturday, the National Anthem was sung by four young women who were using an arrangement so unusual that the Anthem would hardly have been recognizable but for the words. Lately, our National Anthem is no longer sung by crowds at games and events, it's performed by celebrities and wannabees, some dressed in torn jeans and what used to be considered underwear, exhibiting their navels but little respect for what they are singing. There's hardly any patriotic feeling when you watch someone "perform" the Anthem; indeed, many Americans can't even remember the words, it's been so long since they last sang them. During the Sydney Olympics, we were struck by the spirit of the crowds singing the Australian National Anthem each time it was played. Why can't Americans follow the lead of the Australians and once again honor our country and honor those who have served our country by joining together and singing our own National Anthem?

Happy BELATED Birthday! On behalf of Mystics fans everywhere (yes, even in Latvia), the BasketCases send happy birthday greetings to Nikki Blue, who turned 22 two months ago today (or you might think her birthday is today, if you make the mistake of believing the DOB in Nikki's personal information on today's Mystics homepage). (Talk about feeling old...the BasketCases have moldy jars in their refrigerator older than Nikki!) Blue, whom we've already referred to as the steal of the draft (second rounder, 19th overall), continues to prove us right. (We like that.) The Mystics' rookie from UCLA has been a great spark off the bench, allowing the team to rest PG starter Nikki Teasley without so much as missing a beat. While the BasketCases expect overall number one draft pick Seimone Augustus to win Rookie of the Year, if the WNBA had an award for the player selected lowest in the draft who performed like a player selected much higher, the BasketCases would nominate Nikki B for it. Maybe it could be called the Draft Differential Award: Draft position minus end-of-season rookie ranking equals DDA score. Augustus: 1 - 1 = 0, Blue: 19 - 4 = 15. And, the winner is Mystics PG Nikki Blue!

Our favorite Blue moment to date: seeing her palm the ball, with her arm fully extended, parallel to the floor! She's done this several times, and given her size (5' 8"), it continues to amaze. BTW, it's no accident that the number on Blue's uniform matches her number in the draft. Blue was so disappointed at not being drafted during the first round that she chose to wear Number 19 as motivation: "I was totally heartbroken and it was total disappointment when I didn't go in the first round. So I got number 19 to remind me of that every day and keep pushing me."

The BasketCases love Blue's attitude!!

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Priceless! Ticket to the game...yadda, yadda, yadda. Let's get to the point: Latasha (Tot) Byears stealing the ball under the Lynx basket, weaving her way through traffic, dribbling the length of the court, only to hit one of her teammates with a perfect pass to complete the play...absolutely PRICELESS. And then, in case you were out buying popcorn, she did it again!

From the moment that GM Linda Hargrove signed Tot, the BasketCases have been excited about the "muscle" that Tot would add to this Mystics team, but even we (the most widely read Mystics bloggers in Latvia) didn't realize what mad skills this girl has! 20 points, 14 rebounds (9 on the offensive glass), 4 steals and 2 assists!

Alana Beard led the team with 25 points in the Mystics' 90-75 win over the Lynx last night, but that was no surprise...we already knew that AB is priceless. But for the Mystics to get the kind of production that Tot contributed last night off the bench may be the difference between a playoff team and an also ran. The Mystics' next game is against the very physical Detroit Shock. The starters will need exactly the kind of help they got last night from Tot and the rest of the bench. Bring it again, Tot!

Saturday, May 27, 2006

WNBA President Donna Orender made a special appearance at tonight's game between the Mystics and the Lynx in order to congratulate the BasketCases on having the best fan blog in the WNBA (and the most widely read WNBA blog in Latvia).

We were truly honored, and the surprise gift of the mini van (see upper right) was totally unexpected. Thank you, WNBA!

Terps (summer vacation) Injury Report: In the latest video postcard from Budapest, Jade Perry reports late breaking news that she "rode one rollercoaster and Marissa Coleman got really sick."

Friday, May 26, 2006

Lynking Up with Linda. Once again, Mystics GM Linda Hargrove was kind enough to answer a few of the BasketCases' "chalk talk" questions about the Mystics game in Charlotte and about Saturday's upcoming home game against the Lynx. Here's what Linda had to say:

BC: For the benefit of those of us who followed the game on radio, can you give us a little eyewitness insight into what went wrong in Charlotte?

LH: "We started off really strong and Charlotte kept their composure and came back with a strong offensive showing. The fouls and turnovers made it really difficult to get into any kind of flow. The subs did a great job of keeping us in the game when AB and D were out with foul trouble but key turnovers and made shots for the Sting kept us from pulling out the win. Poor execution in the late game was troubling and I hope that we learned a lot about the value of a possession. The good thing is that we don't have long to think about the poor showing, the bad thing is that we play another really strong team that hasn't won a game yet."

BC: The Lynx are another 0-2 team who've played close games with two of the top teams in the Eastern Conference. What do the Mystics need to do to avoid another upset?

LH: "We have to play a smart game and execute the game plan. Minnesota has two very big and strong posts in Ohlde and Hayden and one of the brightest new stars in Augustus. We need to play better position defense and not get ourselves in foul trouble and do a better job of taking care of the ball."

BC: Can you talk a little about Seimone Augustus and how she affects the Mystics game plan?

LH: "I love Seimone's game. We must not give her a lot of open looks and be physical with her. We must also box her out and basically try to make her uncomfortable on the floor. She can really score in a variety of ways and we need to have whoever she guards attack her and try to get her into foul trouble."

BC: And since the BasketCases is the most widely read Mystics blog in Latvia, we were wondering if you could share with our readers what you expect to see from Zane Teilane this season?

LH: "I expect Zane to work hard in practice each day, get stronger and give us a look in practice that we couldn't see if she weren't on our team. She is very smart and is picking things up quickly. She runs the floor great, is very skilled and can block shots, but I don't see her contributing in any huge way this season, at least during the games. But she has to be ready should we have an injury to any of our post players. She has been a really nice addition to the Mystics."

Thanks again to Linda Hargrove for sharing her thoughts on these games!

Red Danube. The Terps' "roadtrip" to Europe is underway. The National Champions began their journey Tuesday at 10 PM and, after a layover in Paris, arrived in Budapest, Hungary, Wednesday around 7 PM local time. The Terps website is doing a terrific job of keeping the fans up to date on all the team's activities, complete with video postcards, photos and daily summaries of what the Terps are doing on their summer vacation.

Speaking of "hungry", the BasketCases loved Wednesday's video postcard where Charmaine Carr tells us that on her first night in Budapest, they got to "eat at Burger King and McDonalds" and that it was "a nice little taste of home" and "had to be one of the best meals I've had in a long time." Excuse us for pointing this out, Charmaine, but you'd left home not even 24 hours earlier!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

"Foul on the Mystics." How many times did we hear Byron Kerr say that tonight during the radio broadcast? Arrgh! FG%: Advantage Mystics; Rebounds: Advantage Mystics; Assists: Advantage Mystics; Steals: Advantage Mystics. So why did the Mystics lose to Charlotte 73-63? Personal Fouls: Mystics 35, Sting 21. Points from the FT line: Mystics 8, Sting 28! 20 more points for Charlotte from the charity stripe! And then there were the turnovers: Mystics 27, Sting 20. That's 7 extra posessions for the Sting. The 2-0 curse strikes again. The Mystics have never opened their season 2-0! Maybe next year.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

The Chart.* Over the years, the Mystics have changed coaches almost as often as some people change their underwear. Tuesday night's game between the Mystics and the Liberty saw a veritable chart of coaches** enjoying (or in some cases, not) the game at the Phone Booth. Now, it's possible the BasketCases missed a few, but these are the ones we spotted: first, of course, there was Richie Adubato, head coach of the Mystics who is also a former head coach of the Liberty. And then, on the opposite bench, there was Patty Coyle, current head coach of the Liberty, who used to be Richie Adubato's assistant coach when he was head coach of the Liberty. Also on the Liberty bench was Marianne Stanley, who used to be head coach of the Mystics and is now Patty Coyle's assistant coach for the Liberty. Then the eagle-eyed BasketCases spotted Nancy Darsch in the stands. Nancy used to be head coach of the Mystics. She was also head coach of the Liberty (but not at the same time) and was also an assistant coach for the Lynx (but not at the same time). Also sighted in the stands was Jeff House, former assistant coach of the Liberty while Richie was the Liberty head coach and Patty was another of Richie's assistants, but then when Patty took over head coaching responsibilities for the Liberty, Jeff became assistant coach of the Mystics under Michael Adams (who was not in attendance last night as far as we know) and then under Richie when Linda Hargrove, who was Michael's assistant coach, was promoted to Mystics GM. Later, Jeff left for UVA to become assistant to Debbie Ryan (also absent last night, as far as we know). GM Linda Hargrove then hired Richie Adubato as Mystics head coach. And Richie and Linda hired Marynell Meadors and Tree Rollins as assistant coaches for the Mystics and they, too, were both present last night. The BasketCases also had the pleasure of meeting Katie Meier, head coach at the University of Miami where Mystics rookie Tamara James (who Linda Hargrove drafted in the first round of this year's draft) played her college ball. We should also mention that while an assistant coach at Tulane, Coach Meier also coached Barb Farris who now plays for the Liberty. And, as long as we're discussing player connections, we would be remiss if we did not mention that it was GM Linda Hargrove, then GM and head coach of the WNBA's Portland Fire, who drafted Mystics PG Nikki Teasley, traded her to the Sparks, and then reacquired Nikki in the big Mystics-Sparks trade during this last offseason. Got all that? (See chart above.)

*with apologies to "The L Word"
**"chart of coaches": new collective noun coined by the BasketCases

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Why is this woman smiling? Wouldn't YOU be smiling if your daughter just had the kind of game that Marie Beard's daughter, Alana, had Tuesday night in the Mystics' blowout 95-60 win over the hapless New York Liberty? Alana put up 25 points in only 24 minutes, shooting 11 of 12 from the floor, including 3 of 3 from behind the arc! When not scoring, Alana was busy recording 4 steals, 2 assists, 2 rebounds and 1 blocked shot (vs only 1 turnover and 1 personal foul). Not a bad night, all in all. Yes, Mrs. Beard had good reason to smile. And so did the BasketCases and Mystics fans everywhere (including Latvia).

The Dawn of PAX MYSTICA* From 27 B.C. until 193 A.D., Peace (or as my old Latin teacher, Mrs. Krum, would say, "Pax") descended upon the Roman Empire. Prior to the "Pax Romana," the empire was wracked with constant turmoil caused by chronic infighting and frequent overthrows of rulers and govenments. But the arrival of the PAX signaled an end to all that unrest and the dawn of an era of "pax"and progress.

Tonight in their 95-60 rout of the invading Liberty, the Mystics played with gladiatorial fervor; Alana Beard led her teammates like Caesar riding into battle; every player contributed and scored; veterans and rookies performed like centurions and loyal footsoldiers. In the amphitheater known as The Phone Booth, amid cheers and (the) Mayhem, the Mystics sent a message throughout the WNBA Empire. Henceforth, when historians look back at this day, the BasketCases are certain that May 23, 2006 will be known as the dawn of "Pax Mystica." This is the day when a new era of Mystics basketball arrived in our nation's capital. This is the day when players, coaches, general managers, owners, mascots and fans all joined together as one to proclaim with one voice, "Hail Mystica!" The Pax Mystica has arrived.


*Thanks to renowned message board junkie, Pilight, for "pax mystica!"

Going for the Gold! Congratulations to DeLisha Milton-Jones on being named one of the core eight players by USA Basketball to the women's national team that will play for the world championship this September in Brazil. DMJ's selection makes it very likely that she will be named to our next Olympic team.

More Zane E ness: A special BasketCases shout out to our Blog fans in Latvia!

Game Day with GM Linda Hargrove. The Basketcases very much enjoyed the "chalk talks" that Mystics GM Linda Hargrove presented before several games last season, so we asked Linda a few "chalk talk" type questions about tonight's Liberty game and this year's Mystics team. Here's what Linda had to say:

BC: Are there any special problems in preparing for a team that’s undergone the “extreme makeover” that the Liberty has since last season?

LH: "I think it is always a challenge trying to get a team of new players to understand each others game and be able to instinctively know what pass to deliver and where your teammate can have the most success on the floor. NY had so much consistency in their line up for so long that the game probably came pretty easy to them with all the veterans. I think it will take some time to get that comfortable feeling on the court now. That being said the same thing could be said for our group since we also have many new pieces"

BC: What do you see as the key match-ups in tonight’s game?

LH: "I think for us it will be who ever guards Hammon. Becky is a great player and must not be allowed to do what she wants. Defensively we must apply a lot of pressure and not give her open looks from beyond the arc. "

BC: What differences between this year’s Mystics team and last season’s team should Mystics fans expect to see?

LH: "We have much more quality depth, have added a veteran 3 point threat in Crystal Robinson and strength, rebounding and attitude with Latasha Byears. But I think the biggest difference you will see is the closeness of our team and willingness to make the extra pass. We really enjoy playing together and will work hard to achieve our goals."

BC: Any word on Alana’s status? We heard she rolled an ankle in practice this weekend

LH: "Alana is fine and has not turned her ankle. Must be a rumor started by a NY fan who wants people to stay home and not come and support the Mystics."

BC: As GM, what was your thinking in deciding to waive Charm and sign free agent Pax?

LH: "I made enough tough decisions this off season and am glad that the waiving of Charm did not fall on my shoulders. I do believe that my grandkids will love Pax and I can’t wait for them to get to DC and meet him. Are we the only place in the US that has a panda? Something unique to DC? I personally like it. "

The BasketCases wish to THANK LINDA for taking the time to answer our questions for this Game Day report!

Mystics Injury Report: None. A reliable source has informed the BasketCases "that there are NO Injuries on the Mystics team and that all players are expected to play" tonight against the Liberty. Contrary to rumors, Alana Beard is healthy and expected to start tonight's game.

If You Win It, They Will Come. As all long-suffering Mystics fans (redundant?) know, the team has seen a real drop off in attendance over the past few years. Gone are the Phone Booth-filling, record setting crowds. At some games last summer, it almost felt like we were in WNBA arena hell (also known as Charlotte). After the novelty of a new women's professional sports league wore off, most people who aren't BasketCases decided that their summer evenings were better spent watching reruns of Law and Order than going to see a losing franchise, year in and year out. So the BasketCases were pleased to see this issue addressed by team management in the Post today. As Coach Richie Adubato recognizes, building the attendance back up is not ultimately about dance teams or giving away cuddly stuffed pandas, "it will still come down to winning." On paper, GM Linda Hargrove has certainly put together what ought to be a winning team. In the ninth season of the franchise, after so much losing, this really is a make or break year for the Mystics. The season opener is tonight. Let's get it on!

--- Judith

Monday, May 22, 2006

Mystics/WNBA Live On-line Chat, Tuesday, May 23, at 11 AM with Sportswriter JON GALLO of the Washington Post. The BasketCases believe this is a FIRST for the Post. So what better time than the day of the Mystics season-opener to send in your questions and log on to the on-line chat. The BasketCases have already submitted some probing questions for discussion. For example, here's one: "So, Jon, any relation to Ernest & Julio?" And we'll be submitting many more insightful queries just like that. But the BasketCases can't do it alone. So, send in your questions (anytime right up to and through the time of the on-line discussion) and let's show the Post that there's plenty of excitement out there about the Mystics and the WNBA's 10th Anniversary season.

Zane Update: Late word from an un-named (but reliable) source informs us that new Mystics center Zane Teilane's name is pronounced "Zah' nee Tu lah' nee." OK, we confess, the source was anonymous, but the BasketCases conducted DNA analysis of the saliva on the stamp (see insert left) and concluded that there is a 76.23% chance that the sender is of Eastern European descent! Coincidence? You be the judge.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Boo to You, Channel 7. Yesterday, ABC's local DC-area affiliate, WJLA-TV Channel 7, opted not to broadcast the network's "nationally televised" game between Sacramento and Phoenix that launched the WNBA's 10th Anniversary Season. Instead, Channel 7 treated us to a B-minus movie. While the game was carried on News Channel 8 (News Channel 8!!), this was a well kept secret, and only available on cable. Many fans failed to find it. Shame on Channel 7. The BasketCases think calls to the station's General Manager, Fred Ryan (703-647-8700), are in order.

Boo Boo of the Day. Yesterday, with 3 seconds left in the game, Charlotte Sting rookie LaToya Bond sank a 3-pointer to give her team a 2 point lead over the expansion Chicago Sky, capping an 18-0 run by the Sting. The Sky, up 80-64 with 3 minutes 30 seconds left in the game, went into free fall, losing all of its 16 point lead and finally allowing the Sting to pull ahead when Bond sank her shot from outside the arc. Unfortuntely for LaToya, the story does not end there. With only 1 second left on the clock, Chicago's Jia Perkins threw up a "hail Mary," or perhaps a "hail LaToya," because it was the rookie, Bond, who answered her prayer. LaToya fouled the 3-point shooter! Perkins, who was the Sky's pick from the Sting's roster in the expansion draft (talk about rubbing salt into a wound) nailed all 3 of her free throws to give Chicago the win. [Repeat after me, LaToya: Never foul the 3-point shooter!]

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Rulers, Rhymes, and Reasons. . . Yesterday, the Mystics waived Aiysha Smith in order to make space on the roster for Latvian native Zane Teilane, who had been waived by the Detroit Shock. And what a lot of space it is . . . at least vertically! By the ruler, Zane stands 79 inches. That's 6 foot 7 for those who are measurement impaired.

We've been told that Zane's first and last names rhyme. But as for how to pronounce them. . . hmmm, therein lies the rub. Admittedly, the BasketCases are linguistically challenged, so we've been busy doing research, including from our sources in Latvia. (For those who still think Wales is in England, Latvia is not a town in upstate New York, it's in Eastern Europe.) The best we can tell is that it's pronounced Zonnie (rhymes with Connie) Tah-Lonnie, or it's Zon-(rhymes with Conn)-New Tah-Lan-New, or just possibly Zooney (rhymes with looney) Tay-lonnie. The one thing we're pretty certain of is that it's not Zane (rhymes with sane, which the BasketCases definitely are not) Tah-lane. The BasketCases will continue their investigation into the mystery of the pronunciation. Watch this space for further developments.

Obviously, the reason that the Mystics have signed Zane is to go "Big." Zane is a Center out of Western Illinois, where she was a Mid-Continent Conference (considered a mid-major) two-time Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year. She's a young player, obviously with good size, but in need of development. The BasketCases welcome her to the Mystics, where Assistant Coach Tree Rollins, who measures 86 inches, will take her under his formidable wing and work to turn her into a genuine W-quality center. The BasketCases are heartened by the words of one message board poster who wrote: "Zane is the biggest thing to leave Latvia since the Russian Army."

Friday, May 19, 2006

BasketCases EXCLUSIVE Photo (Thanks D.T.!)

Yes, PAX the Panda is Charm's Hare Apparent. Meet the new Mystics Mascot! [Now, we're only guessing, but the BasketCases surmise that the name PAX comes from the Latin word for "Peace" or else it's a shout out to our troops in uniform serving at PAX (Patuxent Naval Air Station) in St. Mary's County.] Fear the Peaceful Panda!

No, NOT the Mystics' New Mascot! The excitement continues to build as we wait for information about Charm's hare apparent. The new mascot was scheduled to be unveiled yesterday evening at 5:30PM at the National Zoo's Zoofari 2006 annual fundraising gala. [Unfortunately the BasketCases don't get out very much and missed this year's big FONZ event.] Watch this space for developing news!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Chamique leaves Sparks for personal reasons. To borrow a line from Richie Valens... Oh, Donna O (Orender)! Donna, could the WNBA have buried this news any deeper? Did we really have to learn about this first from an astute message board poster who happened to read the fine print in this week's WNBA Fantasy Game Report? Former Mystics star Chamique Holdsclaw, leaving a team again for undisclosed personal reasons with no indication "if" or when she will return -- this is a Fantasy Game issue, not WNBA news? Well, for the record, the BasketCases disagree. It's not an invasion of Chamique's privacy to simply report that she's left her team, but it IS news that fans of the league deserve to to be told. Only after hours of internet message board discussion of Holdsclaw's departure did the WNBA see fit to put anything on its homepage about what is surely the biggest W news of the day.

As for Chamique, the BasketCases wish her only the best. We don't know, nor do we feel entitled to know, what personal reasons account for her absence. We certainly hope it's nothing serious and we hope she returns soon. When Mique left the Mystics during the 2004 season there was a great deal of wild speculation, accusations and some downright nastiness spread around about her. (Yes, Mr. Wilbon, the BasketCases haven't forgotten.) Later, we all learned that Chamique was suffering from clinical depression. Anyone who has a family member, friend or co-worker who shares this illness likely understands how truly debilitating this condition can be. This isn't an illness brought on by playing on a team that loses more often than it wins. No, clinical depression is much, much more serious than that. D.C. native, Mo Currie, would probably tell us that losing the NCAA championship to Maryland this year in the final minutes was very "depressing". We expect that she would also tell us that the (non-clinical) depression she experienced hasn't prevented her from functioning in her daily life. That's the difference. This is not to say that Chamique is suffering another bout of clinical depression. But keeping in mind all the wrong-headed conclusions drawn about her the last time she left a team for personal reasons, for now, let's reserve judgment and just send her our prayers and support.

* * *
Friday morning, May 19 , update:

"Chamique Holdsclaw, a three-time WNBA All-Star, left the Sparks on Sunday [May 14] for personal reasons. Sparks public relations coordinator Ashley King said Thursday there was no timetable for her return. Holdsclaw hasn’t practiced in five days."

* * *
Friday afternoon, May 19, update:

Chamique Holdsclaw "has returned to the squad after a brief absence to attend to a personal matter, team spokeswoman Ashley King said on Friday."

Saturday, May 20, update; can it get any stranger?

"Sparks forward Chamique Holdsclaw, a three-time All-Star, will not be with the team for its WNBA season opener Sunday against Seattle while tending to a family matter, team officials said. There is no timetable for her return.

Coach Joe Bryant said Friday [May 19] that Holdsclaw left Los Angeles early this week with the team's permission. It was thought that she might return Friday. But Holdsclaw's situation, which Bryant would only say did not involve her directly, had not been resolved."

Brenda Behind Bars. When asked by Jessica Garrison of how her life has changed after the national title, Coach Brenda Frese revealed that she is " receiving letters from people in prison." And, in this Q&A from Garrison's interesting interview, Brenda talks about the origins of the team's motto:

JG: This year, you all thrived on the "Overtime is our time" motto. Any early front-runners for this year's motto?
Frese: [laughs] No, not yet. It kind of develops and unfolds. That didn't really develop until our second overtime. A fan had made a sign, and our kids were like, "Did you see that sign!?" They were like, "Yeah, we do play harder in overtime!" It sorta took on a life of its own. [Note to Brenda: Actually, Coach, it was after your third overtime! That "fan" with the sign? Yes, you guessed it, that "fan" was a BasketCase.]

Mystics Roster Set. The BasketCases have received information from a reliable source that Kaayla Chones has been cut by the Mystics. Reserve Center Chones (N.C. State '04) played for the Mystics during the 2004 & 2005 seasons. Last season she averaged 5.1 minutes, 1.2 PPG & 0.5 rebounds. This cut brings the Mystics roster down to 12 players.

Good Luck to's hoping she gets an opportunity to play elsewhere!

* * * * *

It's now official. And, former Mystics guard, Rita Williams, was also waived today by the Chicago Sky.

"Absolutely Wonderful." Jan Hubbard of Fox Sports in a preview of the WNBA's Eastern Conference reports that "after a bold and bustling off-season, the Mystics may be a team of mystery — but they have a chance to be absolutely wonderful." While the BasketCases agree with this part of Jan's analysis, we take issue with Hubbard's prediction that the Mystics will only finish 3rd behind Detroit and Connecticut. The BasketCases are of the opinion that if only one banner is raised to the rafters following the 2006 season, it won't be for Attendance.

Greensboro Here We Come. The ACC announced Wednesday:
"The Women's [ACC] Basketball Tournament which has been played in Greensboro, N.C. since 2000 has extended its contract with the Greensboro Coliseum through the 2015 season....In addition, the women's tournament also has a one-year option to move the tournament anytime during the 2010 - 2015 seasons. If that option is used, then the Greensboro Coliseum would host the tournament in 2016."

The BasketCases had the pleasure of sampling some of Greensboro's "Southern Hospitality" this year and LOVED IT! Despite the home court advantage enjoyed by those "Blue" teams, I'm still pleased that the tourney will remain in Greensboro---those folks down there have done a wonderful job of hosting and a wonderful job of building up interest in the Women's tournament. Heck, the Sweet Potato Hash alone is worth the trip! (Now if there were only a way to make the Duke fans stay home, it would be absolutely PERFECT. *wink*)


Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Brenda Frese, Where Are You? As every faithful Terps fan knows, "Overtime is Our Time" became Maryland's slogan this year, after the team went to OT six times, all in away games, and won them all, including the National Championship. The Mystics, however, lost in OT on Tuesday to the expansion Chicago Sky, 86-81. Repeat after me, "expansion Chicago Sky."

Apparently, the Mystics used the OT period to provide some additional pre-season playing time for some of their bench and bubble players. Yes, yes, I know it was a pre-season "scrimmage" or "exhibition," not a "game," and as was pointed out on a message board, "it doesn't count in the standings of games that don't count in the standings." All the same, the Mystics lost their first exhibition/scrimmage/game/matchup/faceoff with the EXPANSION Chicago Sky! *wince*

-- Judith

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Market Salamander Special of the Week: Wabbit Stew. Yes, Mystics fans, Charm the Wabbit is cooked! Elmer Fudd may have said it: "I'll get that wabbit if it's the last thing I do," but Sheila J has gone and done it! *sniff* The Fearsome Mean Blue Mutant Bunny is no more. The BasketCases have been catching wiffs of something cooking for some time, but now it's official. New mascot unveiling at the National Zoo? Well, even a crazy Mystics fan can guess who will be the next Mystics mascot pulled out of the pot...did I say "pot"? Sorry, I meant to say, out of the hat. I'll miss you Charm! *sniff sniff* Yep, I definitely smell wabbit stew.


Lest auld aquaintances be forgot. The Mystics travel to Chicago today for a controlled scrimmage vs the new 2006 expansion team, the Chicago Sky. Currently there are 3 Mystics alumnae on the Sky roster: Stacey ("I love being retired") Dales, the Mystics 2002 1st round draft pick (#3 overall) who "retired" after 3 seasons only to "change her mind" just moments after the Mystics submitted their list of protected players for the 2006 Expansion Draft. In a feature today about Stacey in the Chicago Sun Times she has some interesting advice for young players: "When I talk to kids, I always tell them, 'steal your opportunities,''' she said. (No doubt, advice she has followed herself.) Joining Stacey on the Sky is former Mystics star Nikki ("I did cartwheels when I was told the Mystics traded me") McCray. Nikki has been well-traveled since leaving Washington, playing first for the Indianapolis Fever, moving on to the Phoenix Mercury, then playing last season for the San Antonio Silver Stars (who failed to re-sign her for 2006), only to be a late addition to the Sky's training camp roster this season. As a player for the Sky, Nikki is reunited with her Mystics teammate from that "memorable" first Mystics season, point guard Rita Williams. As you may have read earlier, Rita played her way into the Mystics training camp via an open tryout, only to be let go in the last round of cuts. We're happy to see Rita get another shot at a contract for this season. Rita, Good luck with the Sky!


Home Cooking for Aurelie. When Aurelie Noirez signed on as one of Brenda Frese's first 3 recruits (along with Shay Doron and Kalika France), she says she had no idea what kind of basketball program she was joining. Coming from France where basketball is played in a club system (rather than in academic institutions), she was primarily looking for an opportunity to come to the United States for an education, rather than looking to win a championship. A major university outside the capital of the United States sounded like as good an idea as any. Little did she know that she would be returning to France following her Junior season as a genuine celebrity as part of the European tour of the Maryland Terrapins, the 2006 National Champions.

When the BasketCases asked her after the championship whether her family back in France understood how BIG winning the "Natty" is here in the U.S., she reported that at first they didn't, but they learned very quickly when all the reporters started calling. She also told us that her sister's been inundated with requests for Aurelie's autograph; so I guess we know that Aurelie will be spending a lot of time with her Sharpie while on the Parisian leg of the Terps' tour. This trip may also provide an opportunity for Aurelie's family-members to thank Brenda Frese in person for allowing Aurelie to miss one non-conference game each of the last 2 seasons, so that Aurelie could spend Christmas at home in France with her family.


Sunday, May 14, 2006

10-year Season Ticket Holder Celebrations: The New York Liberty.

The New York Liberty - players and staff - boarded a 10-year anniversary
Circle Line cruise around Manhattan Thursday with 300 season-ticket holders who have followed the team since its inception in 1997. Forward Shameka Christon ran out to the observation deck when she saw the Statue of Liberty for the first time. "The New York Liberty got to see the real Lady of Liberty, so that's something we'll never forget," Becky Hammon said. "It was really cool to give something back to our most loyal fans." New York Post, May 14, 2006

Note to Sheila J: Mystics' 10-year Season Ticket Holder celebration coming soon. Perhaps the QE2 to London? *wink*

Slow start costs Comets, by KATHY ORTON for The Chronicle.
"If by league rules we hadn't have had to, we wouldn't have come out (of the locker room) [after halftime] as bad as we played," Comets coach Van Chancellor said.

Mystics' Blue Proves That Numbers Can Lie
By JON GALLO Washington Post Staff Writer
"After seeing the way we've played," said Milton-Jones, "I'm so anxious for the regular season."

...interesting bylines on these articles! We're used to seeing Kathy Orton writing about the Mystics.

It only took nine years .
George Solomon, former long-time Sports Editor of the Washington Post, who now has a Sunday Sports column (usually a real snorer), has finally discovered the Mystics. In today's paper, George has a nice piece focusing on Sheila Johnson as an owner (interesting to learn that Mark Cuban is her role model!) and some of the recent player personnel changes. He concludes by stating that the Mystics "deserve our attention." (Somehow, you get the feeling the "our" means the guys he assumes he's writing to.) Welcome aboard, George; it's about time!

And congrats to Sheila J and everyone in the Mystics' new front office who succeeded in getting George's attention.


Saturday, May 13, 2006

Focus on the Family (no, not them, this is about the players' families) . . . The BasketCases spotted Comet Mistie Williams's father, Chubby Checker, in the crowd tonight. Pretty much no one else seemed to know who he was, including the folks running the arena's video system. Late in the first half, we pointed him out to the camera operators. At half time, Sheila Johnson had Chubby come down to the court, where she was doing an interview. At her request, he performed a bit of The Twist for the crowd. For some odd reason, he chose to leave the court by climbing over the visitors' bench, tripped, and did a new version of The Twist (almost breaking a leg in the process).

After the game, the BastketCases had the pleasure of chatting with Nikki Teasley's mother. Mom was practically in tears, she was so overjoyed at having Nikki at home. And she confirmed what we've thought all along -- that Nikki really wanted to play in DC. (Of course, the BasketCases thought that Pat Summitt should have used the 4 pick in the 2002 draft to select Nikki then. But don't get us started on that.)

Steal of the Draft? In tonight's convincing preseason win over Houston (81-63), veterans Delisha Milton-Jones and Chasity Melvin may have scored more points (15 & 11 respectively), but it was rookie Nikki Blue who made the biggest impression. Nikki B, a second round (!) pick scored 10 points, had 4 assists and only 1 turnover in her first home appearance at the Verizon Center. WOW!

All the Pieces Come Together? If the Mystics have a weakness, they did a very good job of hiding it tonight. They looked strong, capable of scoring from all five positions. The bench was impressive. 3-point specialist Laurie Koehn celebrated her birthday by hitting her first 3 shots (of 4 attempts, all 3 pointers, of course). Kudos to GM Linda Hargrove for her draft picks, free agent pick-ups and off-season trades. Finally, it looks like all the pieces are in place for a great run this season.

Game Day: Mystics in the News.

"Washington Mystics Coach Richie Adubato said he is treating tonight's final preseason game against Houston at Verizon Center at 7:30 as a regular season game."

"Adubato said he'll pay especially close attention to forwards Kaayla Chones , Aiysha Smith and Nakia Sanford . Their performance against the Comets and in Tuesday's controlled scrimmage at Chicago will determine which two claim the final spots on the 12-woman roster..."

[P.S. to Mystics: Keep an eye on Stacey Dales in Chicago. She's putting up some extraordinary numbers in the preseason so far: 5 points in 2 games, 13 FGAs in 21 minutes!]

Happy Birthday to....Laurie Koehn....who is 24 today. It would be a nice birthday present for her (and an early gift for Alana Beard, who turns 24 tomorrow) if the Mystics get a win this evening over the Comets.

And here's hoping that Laurie came back from Wales a bit more well-rounded as a player. According to Linda Hargrove, when she asked Laurie last winter if she were "putting the ball on the floor," Laurie's reply was, "if they are not going to defend me, I'm going to shoot the three." Probably not the response Linda was hoping for.

(Speaking of Wales, there were a lot of folks posting on the Internet about Laurie's whereabouts during the off season who thought Wales is a part of England. Another sad commentary on American education.)


Friday, May 12, 2006

Former teammates face off... Saturday's pre-season game between the Mystics and the Comets will see Alana Beard squaring off against her former Duke teammate, rookie Mistie Williams, for the first time. And Tamecka Dixon, now with Houston, will be up against her former L.A. teammates, Delisha, Nikki T, and Tot.

For those who may not have followed college b-ball, Mistie Williams has a very famous father: Chubby Checker. He frequently attended her Duke games, and reportedly gave a tremendous rendition of the National Anthem at a recent one. (He was always easy to spot in the crowd during televised games, because he looked like he was growing a Chia Pet on his head.)


Thursday, May 11, 2006

Waiting for Tot. Only two more days. Saturday, I'll get to see Latasha Byears in a Mystics uniform. Unbelievable. Years ago, the BasketCases created a fictional "Dark Alley Club," whose members were WNBA players you wouldn't want to meet in a dark alley. Tot was the President for Life. (Tamika Whitmore was another member. You get the point.) A major problem with the Mystics has always been that they never have had a member of this club. They were just too nice; everyone pushed them around, they never had a truly intimidating presence on the court. Well, now things will change! Tot is here, gold tooth, tats and all. And in case you missed this interview with Tot some years ago, when asked about the physicality of WNBA play, Tot said it was no problem for her because "I'm from the 'hood, and I had to play against guys named Juju, Neckbone and Killer." Yes, I expect things will be a little different now at the Phone Booth!


Mystics down to final cut. Rita Williams, a relic of the Mystics' memorable (or perhaps should I say "notorious"?) first season, who played her way into training camp from an open tryout, was cut yesterday along with two other players with linguistically challenging names (if you wish to know who they are, click the link.) Officially, Rita was cut because General Manager Linda Hargrove and Coach Richie Adubato decided to keep the young rookie point guard, Nikki Blue from UCLA. In my not so humble opinion, Nikki was one of the true steals of the draft. Whether she'll make the transition to the faster more athletic game of the WNBA remains to be seen, but keeping her on the Mystics roster is a good gamble. Rita, though a real sweetheart and one of my long-time favorites, is an oft-injured journey-woman who's had some good years and some less than stellar ones. 2006 would be Rita's 9th season after UConn and while she may not exactly be washed up, she doesn't have nearly enough tread left on her tires to justify keeping her over a young 'un like Blue.

Now that the back-up point guard choice has been made, the final cut comes down to "...three forwards - Kaayla Chones, Nakia Sanford and Aiysha Smith - fighting for two spots, Hargrove said." Word from camp is that Kaayla returned after the off season with a monster game; Nakia, while the tallest of the three, unfortunately is playing with a broken pinkie finger; and Aiysha is back after a year away from the game. Unlike Stacey ("I'm so happy being retired") Dales (no Schuman on her new Chicago Sky jersey...hmmm, what's that about?), Aiysha, when she took a year off to spend with her then-fiance after he was drafted by the NFL Dallas Cowboys, always said she'd return to the Mystics. The questions that remain in my mind are whether that year off set her back too much, or whether a year living the good life with a multi-millionaire football player dampened her desire for the minimum wage grind of the W, or whether it had just the opposite effect of reinforcing how much she loves being a professional athlete herself rather than simply being in the supporting cast of one. This is a tough final cut. I don't envy Linda Hargrove's job on this one.


Let's Play "Washington Post: In What Section Do We Find It?" Guess the section where these articles appeared:

  1. New Chorus Lines
    As Old-Time Chatter Disappears, Centennial Creates Its Own
    By Jeff Ermann
    Special to The Washington PostThursday, May 11, 2006; Should anyone need proof the days of "Sah-wing battah!" died with the Betamax, here is Seh, a junior utility (boys high school baseball) player, leading his teammates through a rousing chorus of "Peanut Butter Jelly Time" -- a catchy little ditty that has become an Internet phenomenon featuring a singing, dancing, hip-hop inflected banana
  2. McLean Girls Reach Title Game -- and SpotlightS. Mitra Kalita; The Washington Post; Aug 19, 2004; The members of the (girls) All-Star team advanced to the finals of the Little League Softball World Series in Portland, Ore., to take on their 11- and 12-year-old counterparts from Waco, Tex.

If you guessed the Style section for the singing banana feature, you would be WRONG! This in the exalted opinion of the Washington Post editors is SPORTS!!! Now, if you guessed the Sports section for the story about the McLean softball team finishing second in the World Series, you would be WRONG AGAIN! This is NOT Sports; this is a METRO story. Other features about this team's competition appeared earlier in STYLE, so I guess that's an improvement of sorts. Once again, the Washington Post applies its old and tired standard: If it has to do with boys or men, it's Sports; if it has to do with girls or women, more often than not, it gets stuck in Style or Metro. Shame on you, Washington Post!