Friday, June 30, 2006

Mechelle, My Belle . . . How could you? The BasketCases are certain that all our loyal readers (including those who read Latvian) have experienced one of those moments when they learn something about one of their idols that just changes things ever so slightly, so they can never quite think of that person in the same way again. (Like learning that OJ is a double murderer . . . those kind of revelations are bound to tarnish the image just a wee bit.) Well, today, the BasketCases are struggling with just such a moment. They have learned that their favorite basketball sportswriter, Mechelle Voepel, is fallible. *gasp*

In her latest column on, Mechelle discusses the relative lack of drama in the Eastern Conference playoff race. She concedes the top three playoff spots to Connecticut, Detroit and Indy and then has this to say about the Mystics' chances:
Which brings us to Washington, which very recently also would have gone into the category of "playoff-bound-for-certain." It looked like it would simply be a matter of what order those four teams finished in the East.

Now, it still seems very likely the Mystics will make it. Yet the knee injury to DeLisha Milton-Jones -- an MCL sprain in her left knee suffered June 17 that will likely will keep her out at least until the postseason -- just might make the Mystics start coming down with a little Jana Novotna-itis.

That's the malady, made particularly famous in a Wimbledon meltdown by Novotna, that causes athletes to start panicking about panicking -- before there's even anything to truly panic about. Then, in the old self-fulfilling prophesy cycle, eventually there often is cause for panic. (And if the Duchess of Kent somehow shows up at a Mystics game, then they are really in trouble.)

Mechelle, the BasketCases are absolutely horrified that you could write this! Horrified! How could you get it sooooo wrong! (Loyal blog readers: We're sure Mechelle's error simply leaps off the page at you . . . doesn't it?) Mechelle, "prophesy" is a V-E-R-B! "Prophecy" is the noun! We're devastated Mechelle. The BasketCases' relationship with you will never quite be the same *sigh* ever again.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Oh, so close! The Mystics competed well against the Comets for 37 minutes, only to go cold just when they needed it most. Houston finished the game with a 10-0 run as the Comets beat the Mystics 83-76 at the Toyota Center in the midday contest. In a game that was close throughout, the Mystics pulled out to a four point lead late in the fourth quarter, but failed to score a single point the rest of the way and failed to get needed stops on the defensive end.

Chasity Melvin bounced back from her Indy "Oh-fer" to lead the Mystics with 20 points and 6 rebounds. Alana scored 17 and Nakia added 16 more, but it wasn't enough as Houston's Tina Thompson led all scorers with 22 points and Michelle Snow controlled the glass with 17 rebounds. The Mystics played most of the way without Latasha Byears, who suffered a messy cut over her eye from a Michelle Snow elbow. Zane Teilane made her WNBA debut, coming off the bench to fill some of the minutes normally played by Tot. Zane finished with a respectable 4 points and 5 rebounds in a little more than 13 minutes. Once again the Mystics shot poorly from the charity stripe, hitting only 8 of 15, while Houston converted 12 of their 16 chances.

Like Tuesday's matchup against Indy, this was another close, tough game against a good playoff-quality opponent; and like Tuesday, this was another winnable game that the Mystics allowed to slip away. In her halftime radio interview, GM Linda Hargrove said there were a few games already this season they wish they could have back . . . unfortunately, the Mystics today added another one to that list. And the Mystics' West Coast swing doesn't get any easier for a while. A 1-0 start would have gotten this road trip off on the right foot, but instead the Mystics take a two-game losing streak into L.A. on Saturday night to face the Western Conference leading Sparks. As the BasketCases have been told on many occasions . . . close only counts in hand grenades and horseshoes, not in basketball.

Zane debuts . . . really! In first half at Houston, Zane scores 4 points, pulls down 5 boards and blocks 1 shot! (Full report later.)

Sandwich! The BasketCases admit they were initially confused about what a Dancing Sandwich (part of the new Mystics Snack Pack) had to do with the Mystics or with basketball. But now we get it . . . duh! Today at 1 PM, the Mystics take on the Comets at the Kids Day game in Houston. The game is being broadcast on Comcast Sportsnet in the DC area and on NBA-TV outside the area . . . as well as being Webcast on (in theory, at least --- there have been some webcast problems for some games). Obviously, the Dancing Sandwich was intended to remind all Mystics fans to "brown-bag" a sandwich today, so those of us who pretend to work for a living can watch the game while eating lunch!

The Mystics will need all the virtual fan support they can get. The always-tough Houston Comets are looking to rebound from a very disappointing road loss they suffered in Connecticut on Tuesday. Tina Thompson had the worst shooting night of her career and will, no doubt, be looking to take out her frustration on the Comets' next opponent, the Mystics. The Mystics had a frustrating loss of their own on Tuesday; the BasketCases are hoping that the Mystics' post-Indy rebound will be able to trump whatever intensity Tina, Sheryl Swoopes and the rest of the Comets bring into today's game.

C-Rob: Bringing a Veteran's Work Ethic. This week's Falls Church News-Press (who knew there was such a paper?) is running a very positive portrayal of Mystics defensive specialist Crystal Robinson --- a good read. C-Rob talks about how she has faith in Coach Richie's system:
She joined the team as a free agent at the request of head coach Richie Adubato, who coached Robinson with the Liberty for five and a half years.“I’m definitely one of the players who knows Richie’s system, and I’m just trying to help all the girls understand it,” said Robinson, 32. “It’s good and it works if you have faith in it. My career has been great playing for him, so I thought it was a win/win situation. "
The Mystics will certainly need C-Rob's defense later today against Tina Thompson and Sheryl Swoopes.

* * * * * *
Now would also be a good time to visit if you haven't checked it lately. This morning's featured article on the dot-com is about Nikki Teasley and her return home to Washington. (Mike Slane, author of the piece, is a little "accuracy-impaired" when it comes to the Mystics' playoff history, but otherwise, it's an article well worth reading.) And, while you're visiting dot-com, check out the feature on "community hero" Nakia Sanford who founded the Betty Anne Robertson Foundation (named for Kia's late grandmother) which sponsors a mentoring program for young adults.

McCray Retires. Former Mystics player Nikki McCray announced late yesterday that she is retiring from the WNBA. Nikki, signed this season by the expansion Chicago Sky, was a star at Tennessee and then in the now defunct ABL. She left the ABL to become one of the two original players assigned to the Mystics when the team was created in 1998. Nikki's teammates here in DC for that inaugural 3-27 season included Heidi Burge, Keri Chaconas, Penny Moore, Murriel Page, and Alessandra Santos de Oliveira. (The BasketCases are breaking out into a cold sweat just remembering that summer.) The following season, Nikki, a huge crowd favorite in DC who was repeatedly voted into the All-Star Game, was joined by another former Lady Vol, Chamique Holdsclaw. Rumors flew for years over whether the two stars got along, but Mique has always maintained that they were and still are good friends. In 2002, when Nikki was traded to the Indiana Fever for the overall 4th pick in the draft, it was reported that Nikki said she'd done cartwheels when learning of the trade. Maybe so, but her career never really got rolling again after DC, as Nikki embarked on a tour of WNBA teams, playing for Indy, Phoenix and San Antonio before being picked up this year by Chicago. Nikki had this to say in announcing her retirement:

"I started in the WNBA with an expansion team in Washington and now I finish with an expansion team in Chicago, which is a great city. As a pioneer in this league, it has meant so much to me to have developed so many great relationships in the all the cities I have played in."

Nikki's Number 15 was the first Mystics T-shirt that the BasketCases ever wore . . .it's a little faded now. Nikki says she has her eye on joining the coaching ranks. The BasketCases wish Nikki success in her new career and all the best in life after the WNBA.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Big (Blue) Dogs in the News. On Monday, the Daily Bruin (the UCLA paper) carried an interesting story titled "Bruin Alumnae Ball with the Big Dogs" about Mystics rookie Nikki Blue and her former teammate, Lisa Willis.
"Moving across the country takes some getting used to," said Blue, who was drafted in the second round by the Washington Mystics in the WNBA Draft in April. "D.C. is (a) different lifestyle (from) California. It's weird not to be with UCLA anymore, but I still feel so blessed to be playing basketball for a living."
Today, Nakia "Big Dog" Sanford is the subject of a nice feature in her hometown Gwinnett (GA) Daily Post.
“Playing in Italy got me ready for the WNBA because in Italy I was a go-to player and I had never been in that position before as a professional,” Sanford said. “This year (with the Mystics), the biggest thing for me is that I’m playing more than I did last year. I’m getting a lot of time to get into the flow of the game. I know when I go in I have to rebound and play defense and get the job done. That’s my role on this team.”
Speaking of "big dogs". . .the BasketCases swear that when the Mystics' 206 lb. Latasha "Tot" Byears posted up against Indy's 215 lb. Ebony Hoffman last night, they felt a gravitational pull!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Fruits and Vegetables. After playing one of their best games on Sunday to beat Connecticut, the Mystics played one of their worst tonight, losing to Indy 74-67 and putting an end to their perfect record at home. The Mystics started off by scoring a franchise low 8 points in the first quarter, a lackluster performance exceeded only by the Fever's 6 point second quarter that allowed the Mystics to get back in the game before the break. And while the score remained close for most of the second half, the Mystics never seemed to have much going offensively. Alana Beard scored 24 points for the Mystics, but mistakes once again took their toll on DC . . . 20 turnovers and too many missed free throws! Chasity Melvin, who led all scorers on Sunday, finished with a big goose egg . . . nada, zero, zip. Tonight, DeLisha's absence, particularly on the offensive end, was very apparent. After a good first quarter, Indy didn't play all that well either, but the Fever made plays down the stretch that sealed the win. All in all, on a dreary, rain soaked night in DC, with flooding everywhere, this was a game we'd all like to forget. Nakia Sanford summed it up quite well: "It was just a frustrating game because it was like we couldn't do anything right." The Mystics will need to regroup after this performance to be ready to battle some tough teams from the Western Conference on their upcoming 4 game road trip.

The night wasn't a total loss . . . the few (6,003) but loyal Mystics fans who risked flash floods to find their way to the Phone Booth were introduced to a new Mystics Group --- dancing fruits and vegetables and a sandwich --- called the Mystics Snack Pack. The BasketCases have absolutely no idea what this has to do with the Mystics or basketball, but the Snack Pack did provide a splash of color on an otherwise dismal night. And the frisbee-catching dogs at halftime were fun . . . much more fun than that dog of a game. Arf.

Wash Post Columnist Discovers Mystics, and the Post Discovers the Front Page! On Monday morning, after the Mystics played one of their best games in franchise history Sunday night to beat the conference-leading Connecticut Sun, did the Washington Post put the game story on page one of the sports section? Of course not. (Do pigs fly?) Just what was so important that it got front page, above-the-fold treatment? Why, the rain delays in the PGA tourney of course! But today, in one of the very few columns ever written in the Washington Post sports section about the Mystics (and the BasketCases will never forget Michael Wilbon's trashing of Chamique Holdsclaw), Mike Wise is given front page space to bemoan the declining attendance, noting the irony that the fans are staying away at the same time the Mystics are playing their best ball ever. His point is that more promotion is needed, that there has to be more marketing of the players as "personalities." We don't disagree that good marketing is a necessity, but Wise conveniently fails to observe that his own paper typically relegates the Mystics (and women's sports generally) to non-front page coverage, except, apparently, for Wise to report that "I'm still stunned that more stories aren't written about the league's divas, women like Lisa Leslie and Sheryl Swoopes . . . ." Well, Mike, how about talking to your colleagues and editors?

Has Mike failed to notice, for example, that Jon Gallo, the sports writer who now covers the Mystics for the Post, is not allowed to do so from beyond the Beltway, leaving all road games to AP coverage? (What, the Post can't afford an Amtrak ticket for Jon to NY? Or even hiring a freelancer in the away city? It hasn't escaped the BasketCases attention that freelancer Kathy Orton, for example, has been covering other teams for their local papers when they play here in DC.)

And while writing about the huge crowds we used to have here in DC, Wise never mentions what the prior owners did to run the franchise into the ground -- including the revolving door of coaches, some really questionable player personnel decisions, no genuine GM for years, and taking STHs for granted. Had the Mystics been well-run let alone winning, it's a good bet that the many thousands of fans who used to pack the Phone Booth would still be there. The Mystics are not a new team trying to build up a fan base. They are in the fairly unique position of having had the most fans in the league -- record-setting crowds -- and frittered them away. It's not just a question of marketing Alana Beard as a "personality," it's also about winning back the disgruntled and the disaffected. And yes, we are glad to see the Mystics on the front page of the Post; but now lets see some game stories there too!

BTW, the headline on Mike's column on the carryover page inside the paper is: "If a WNBA Star Shoots Jumpers in the Forest..." The BasketCases are flattered that Mike, or his editor, has been reading this blog.

* * * * *
In Jon Gallo's preview of tonight's game against the Fever, Coach Adubato sums up the challenge for the Mystics: "[Tamika] Catchings is one of the best players in the league and she has a lot of good players around her. There's a reason why Indiana has been one of the premier teams in the league in the last few years." The BasketCases are hoping that the Mystics come out playing just the way they left off on Sunday night!

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Not in Our House. The Mystics remain perfect at home (7-0), beating the Eastern-Conference-leading Connecticut Sun tonight, 87-80. The DeLisha-less Mystics played a spectacular game, which is exactly what was needed to beat the talented Connecticut team. The Mystics shot nearly 54% from the field, 44% from behind the arc, and out rebounded Connecticut, 36-28. Chasity Melvin had a monster night, scoring a season-high 25 points to go along with 10 rebounds. The Mystics showed a toughness tonight that was very impressive. When Connecticut made the run that everybody knew was coming, the Mystics responded like good teams do: they bent, but did not break.

If you live in the DC area and you weren't there, well, you missed a great game. And if you live elsewhere, you can read more in tomorrow's papers. (Even more. And still more. Plus this. ) Since the BasketCases didn't get the free ice cream sundaes, we are headed for Baskin-Robbins. See you later.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Before we go. . . Yes, the Terps were in the house (including the previously unannounced Marissa Coleman). Halftime started with a Jumbotron replay of "The Shot" by Kristi Toliver as the Terps took the court to a round of cheers. Coach Frese said a few words and encouraged Mystics fans to come see the Terps next season. So what could be better? Mystics, Terps, and ice cream!

Ice Cream Sunday. At this evening's 6 PM game between the Mystics and the Connecticut Sun at the Phone Booth, the first 1,000 kids age 12 & under will receive free ice cream sundaes! Now, the BasketCases have one question: How is "age 12 & under" defined? Are we talking mental age . . . in which case, the BasketCases would definitely qualify; or are we talking chronological age, in which case, since we're baby boomers, we doubt that those handing out the freebies tonight would conclude that we are 12 & under.

Since we really love ice cream and certainly think of ourselves as kids (not to mention that we've frequently been accused of acting like children), the BasketCases are hoping that "age 12 & under" will be determined in the mind of the fan and we'll get to enjoy free ice cream tonight!

[In case that argument is less than persuasive, we would also like to remind the Phone Booth management that the D.C. Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of age by places of public accommodation. Now, can we have our free sundaes, please? Pretty please?]

Are the BasketCases the only ones who think it's slightly ironic that the Mystics are handing out free ice cream to kids on the same weekend that the WNBA's Be Fit Tour makes a stop in Washington?

* * * * * *
Reminder: Coach Brenda Frese and members of the 2006 National Champion Terps will be recognized at halftime of tonight's game and will sign autographs immediately after the break. (The BasketCases are wondering if they died and went to heaven . . . what could be better than the Mystics, the Terps, and free ice cream??)

* * * * * *
Question of the day: Will Coach Richie play Zane Teilane, even for a few minutes, against Margo Dydek? We'll know soon . . . Speaking of Dydek, friends in Chicago told the BasketCases that the Sky advertised their recent home game against the Sun by urging people to "come see the tallest woman in the WNBA." Now, we know that the Sky are desperately hurting for fannies in the seats, but the WNBA is not a freak show, and Margo Dydek is not an exhibit . . . she undoubtedly is tall, but she's also a very talented athlete and deserves to be respected. (What's next, Sky? . . . come see the most tatooed lady in the WNBA?) So the BasketCases hereby nominate the Sky's management for the P.T. Barnum Good Taste In Sports Advertising Award.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Detroit Bags Lunch-time game. This afternoon, the Mystics lost to the Shock 92-86 at the Palace of Auburn Hills, where the Shock are undefeated this season. While today's effort clearly showed that the Mystics have regrouped from Wednesday's weak showing in New York, unfortunately they still came up short.

The Mystics fought hard against Detroit, refusing to go down without a fight. A run by Washington late in the second quarter allowed the Mystics to take a one point lead into the locker room. At the end of the third period, the Mystics were down by two, and with five minutes remaining in the game, they were down only one, but then Deanna ("Tweety") Nolan sparked a run that allowed Detroit to pull away for good. For most of the game, every time the Shock raced out to a lead, the Mystics fought back to narrow the deficit or even take a small lead. But all game long, the Mystics just couldn't manage to open a gap against the Shock. The Mystics' biggest lead was only four points, while the Shock led by as many as ten. With 20 fouls called on the Mystics to Detroit's 15, once more a Mystics' opponent scored significantly more points (17 vs 12) from the free throw line than did the Mystics. Judging from Byron Kerr's play-by-play, Detroit benefited from several critical foul calls on the Mystics and "no calls" on the Shock. That's what makes life on the road bumpy sometimes.

All five Mystics starters scored in double figures, with Alana Beard leading the way with 20 points. Nikki Teasley and Crystal Robinson both bounced back from their disappointing performances against the Liberty, scoring 16 and 13 respectively. Coco Miller gave the Mystics a good effort off the bench with 11 points and 6 rebounds in just a little over 9 minutes of playing time. As the final score suggests, the problem this afternoon was not a lack of offense by the Mystics, but an inability to stop the high-powered (big, big, and bigger) Detroit starting five. This was the first half of a back-to-back for the Mystics; they face conference-leading Connecticut tomorrow at 6 PM at the Phone Booth (where the BasketCases are hoping that the Terps' Crystal Langhorne will be able to suit up for the injured DeLisha Milton-Jones).

Dancing in the Street or The Tracks of My Tears? The Mystics are in Motown today for a noon game against the Shock. The teams have identical records (7-4) and are tied for third place in the Eastern Conference. It's always tough playing Detroit, particularly when rebounding machine Cheryl Ford is playing as well as she is right now, but it will be even harder for the Mystics without DeLisha Milton-Jones. By game's end, no doubt one of these songs will express how the the Mystics and their fans are feeling.

Today's game is not being televised. You may listen to it on WWRC-1260AM or on the web through

Friday, June 23, 2006

Half Shell. At halftime of Sunday's 6 PM game vs the Connecticut Sun, the Mystics will honor the 2006 National Champion Maryland Terps. Brenda Frese (the Coach, not the slurpee . . . that would be the"Brenda Freeze,'' sold at Comcast) will be joined by Terps players Crystal ("All World") Langhorne (MVP of the USA U-19 Gold Medal World Championship team) and Kristi ("Ice") Toliver (what else could possibly have been flowing through her veins when she nailed that 3 over Duke's 6'7" Alison Bales with 6 seconds remaining?). New Maryland transfers, Christie Marrone (from the Hokies) and Sa'de Wiley Gatewood (from the Lady Vols) will also appear on Sunday. The young Terps team played every game with heart and a never-give-up attitude and brought "40 minutes of Shell" (and in far too many cases, 45!) to every opponent they faced. The BasketCases, Maryland STHs , were lucky enough to have followed the Terps this season all the way to Boston . . . it was truly Magical!

After the halftime ceremony, the Terps will be signing autographs on the concourse outside Section 119.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Mystics Struggle without Dee. While the Mystics have had their share of road woes this season even with DeLisha Milton-Jones in the line-up, tonight, the Mystics, still reeling from the loss of Dee, struggled to find a rotation that would help fill the void created by her absence. The 11 points the Mystics scored in first quarter in the Garden were a season low. The Mystics, down by as much as 16, made a valiant run to close out the first half only two points behind, but came out flat again after the break, scoring only 12 points in the third period, and struggled to catch up the rest of the way before losing to the Liberty 72-66. Alana Beard and Chasity Melvin each scored 20 points, but they weren't enough, as an "Oh-fer" night for Nikki Teasley from the field (she did have 2 points from the line), single digit contributions from the rest of the Mystics scorers, 20% shooting from 3-point range and 8 misses from the FT line doomed the Mystics.

The schedule does not favor the Mystics right now. They face Detroit on the road on Saturday, conference-leading Connecticut at home on Sunday, and second-place Indy on Tuesday before leaving on a 4 game West Coast swing. The BasketCases are confident that with time, the coaches and players will adjust to Dee's absence, but it won't be easy. As the late (and incredible) Gilda Radner would say, "It's always something." For the Mystics and their fans, it's déjà vu all over again.

Mystics @ Liberty Webcast tonight at 7:30 PM. In theory, Mystics fans (even those in Latvia) should be able to see the game over the Internet through the WNBA's web site. However, the BasketCases caution that there have been problems this season with some of the webcast feeds . . . so if you are unable to get a picture, the problem might not be you! Let's hope no one has a problem tonight . . . especially the Mystics!

If the WNBA link above isn't working for you, try the link found at this RebKell Board page (thanks RebKell, this one works!)

What It All Means. Mystics fans already know that not having DeLisha Milton-Jones able to play for most (if not all) of the remainder of the season will have a huge impact on the team. In today's Washington Post, Coach Richie Adubato explains just how much that impact will be. In Richie's words,
"This is a big loss for us because DeLisha brings so much to our team. She's our only big [player] who can shoot from the outside and that stretches the defense. Not having her is detrimental for us because in my offense, we've always had a [power forward] who could shoot from the outside."
In addition, Zane Teilane, who has now been activated, is, according to Richie, not quite ready for prime time:
"'We just hope Zane can give us three or four minutes a game -- she's a project. She's still a couple of years away' from being a major contributor."
Or, in Latvian: "Ceram, ka Zane mums varēs spēlē palīdzēt 3 vai 4 minūtes.”

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Zane to be Activated, Nakia to Start. The Mystics have announced that, for Wednesday's game against the NY Liberty in Madison Square Garden, the Mystics will activate Zane Teilane, and Nakia Sanford will start in place of the injured DeLisha Milton-Jones.

GM Update: DeLisha Out 6-8 Weeks. Just before joining the team on the train to New York, GM Linda Hargrove generously took the time to give the BasketCases blog readers this update on DeLisha Milton-Jones and the Mystics:

BC: Of course everyone's interested in knowing how DeLisha is doing and when we might see her back in the line-up. Is there any information you can share with us?

LH: "DeLisha has been diagnosed with a MCL sprain and will be out of commission for 6-8 weeks. It is a tough blow for us but we will expect others to step up and get the job done. She will begin rehab today and will do everything possible to join the Mystics this season."

BC: Though still struggling, NY seems to be playing better than they did earlier in the season. With DeLisha's injury, what concerns you most about Wednesday's rematch with the Liberty at the Garden?

LH: "NY has definitely improved and we will have to do a better job defensively, not make silly fouls, especially at the post position and convert the easy looks."

BC: Should we expect to see any personnel changes, now that DeLisha is unable to play?

LH: "We will see how our team reacts with this set back. I don't anticipate adding anyone new right now but that could change."

* * * * *

6-8 weeks! *ugh* The BasketCases and other Mystics fans are extremely disappointed for DeLisha and the team. This is certainly a huge loss. We send DeLisha our best and wish her a complete and speedy recovery. As always, we are grateful to Linda Hargrove for sharing her insights with us and keeping our readers informed.

Shooter! USA Today features our "bomb's away" Laurie Koehn.
"When Koehn enters the game, opponents yell 'shooter' to alert one another of her presence. And Mystics general manager Linda Hargrove says Koehn doesn't even have to take a shot to affect the game. 'She's got her little niche, and it's pretty good,' Hargrove says. 'Teams try to keep the ball out of her hands, and when that happens, it opens up other things'."

Monday, June 19, 2006

Woo Pig Sooey. No, that's not what the BasketCases had for dinner last night at their favorite Chinese restaurant, nor is it what the BasketCases exclaimed when catching their first glimpse of Coach Richie’s latest sartorial adventure (what WAS Richie thinking? Electric blue and pink! If Neon hadn’t been invented, he would have inspired it). Maybe Belle the Beagle (the cell phone chomping dog who dialed 911 to save her owner’s life) could be reprogrammed to grab Richie by the pants cuff and drag him back to the locker room next time he pulls that outfit out of his closet.)

But we digress --- Woo Pig Sooey is actually the cheer for the University of Arkansas sports teams, and it's what fans of Arkansas native and world middleweight champion Jermain Taylor were shouting as he entered the ring in Memphis on Saturday night, where he successfully defended his title. (And, whatever you've heard to the contrary, there is absolutely no truth to the nasty rumor that Woo Pig Sooey is what fellow Arkansas native, Bill Clinton, used to shout when Monica . . .wait, forget we said that, the BasketCases is a PG rated blog, we are not going there!) Anyway, back to Jermain --- you are by now probably wondering, why are the BasketCases writing about boxing (and not even about Laila Ali)?? It's because Jermain is the husband of Erica Smith-Taylor, a guard out of La Tech. Erica was drafted by the Mystics in the second round of the 2005 draft. But she was still getting back into shape after giving birth to daughter Nia in December 2004, and did not don a Mystics uniform last season. Hopes that we'd see Erica play this summer were dashed earlier this year with news that a second little boxing/basketball star is on the way for the Smith-Taylor family. (Woo Pig Sooey?) The BasketCases think that after missing two WNBA seasons, Erica's future in the WNBA unfortunately is doubtful. (However, in the every cloud has a silver lining category, Erica’s failure to appear in training camp may have opened the door for the Mystics to sign Zane Teilane, the best Latvian player in the WNBA.)

Note to Linda: Please, no more draft picks with sports star boyfriends! Aiysha Smith made a good effort, but didn’t make the Mystics' roster after taking a year off when her fiancé was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys. And then, Erica, wife of Jermain, never even made it to training camp! Of course, the BasketCases should mention that there’s the “LaMont Jordan exception” to this general rule. LaMont, a star running back for the Oakland Raiders, is such a BIG fan of women’s basketball, especially his beloved Terps, that if his fiancé were to be drafted by the Mystics, we are certain that he’d have her practicing free throws and running wind sprints on their honeymoon! (Woo Pig Sooey!)

Speaking of football, the BasketCases are just a little fed up with the way Redskins owner Dan Snyder has decided to enforce a dress code at another one of his business enterprises, Six Flags. No neat, well-groomed uneven (!) cornrows for Dan . . . or his employees, for that matter! No sir-ree! Unacceptable! Well the BasketCases find Dan (“I never saw a tree I couldn’t chop down”) Snyder unacceptable, so we’ve decided to sell our Redskins memorabilia on Ebay and become Oakland Raider fans in honor of LaMont. And now that we've made the switch, all we can say is that we should have become Raider fans years ago! These Raider fans are people the BasketCases can relate to!

More on DeLisha. A knowledgeable blog-reader posted the following comment to our "Update on DeLisha Milton-Jones" below:
"Dee will be out min of 4 weeks and up to 8 weeks, depending on the results of today's MRI. In this compressed season, that's a LOT of games. Someone one else on the team will have to step up big."
Very unfortunate for DeLisha and for the Mystics! The BasketCases wish you a speedy recovery, Dee! Take whatever time you need to get better. We're sure your teammates will indeed respond as the commenter suggested and will step up big in your absence.

[Watch this space for further updates as they are received.]

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Update on DeLisha Milton-Jones: Both The Washington Post and The Washington Times report this morning that the preliminary diagnosis on DeLisha was a knee sprain, but she will have further medical exams to determine the extent of the injury. According to Richie Adubato, "It's a big win, but it comes with a price. Now, the question is, how big will that price be?"

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Carolina on My Mind. Two former North Carolina college rivals, Alana Beard (Duke) and Nikki Teasley (UNC), now Mystics teammates, lit it up tonight, each scoring 26 points to lead the Mystics to another trouncing of the New York Liberty at the Phone Booth, 88-70. In the BasketCases' opinion, the score wouldn't even have been that close but for some really questionable calls by the refs, including a T on Latasha Byears (who seems to have a foul called on her just for showing up to play). The officiating finally got to Richie Adubato as well, as the refs Teed him up too for complaining. But at the end of the night, the Mystics were a perfect 6 and 0 at home. That's the good news.

The bad news is that DeLisha Milton-Jones went down during the first half, and remained on the floor for quite some time in obvious pain. She was finally taken to the locker room. It's never a good sign when an usher comes for a player's husband, or when the player doesn't return to the bench for the remainder of the game. As of this writing, the BasketCases don't know DeLisha's condition. Obviously, we hope that the injury was minor and that DeLisha is back in action on Wednesday when the Mystics take on the Liberty at the Garden.

Friday, June 16, 2006

From our Mailbag:

Daliborka (Riga, Latvia) writes: While watching the Mystics play in Charlotte, I noticed that Nikki Blue seemed glued to the bench and appeared to be holding something that looked like it might have been a laptop. Can you explain?

BC: Excellent observation, Dali! It's true that Nikki Blue did not play as many minutes against the Sting as she's played in earlier games, and indeed, she did seem preoccupied with her laptop while sitting on the bench. While many fans assumed she had downloaded a copy of Richie's 6,000 page playbook and was simply brushing up, the BasketCases' investigation revealed that she was not studying her playbook . . . she was busy taking a final exam!

Apparently Nikki had one exam and two papers to finish this week in order to complete the requirements for graduating from UCLA on Sunday. Nikki will be accumulating quite a few frequent flyer miles this weekend (but very little rest!). According to an interesting feature on the Mystics website, Nikki will ". . .play a 6 p.m. home game on June 17th in Washington. Blue will then jump on a red-eye flight to California to attend her graduation ceremony at UCLA at 5 p.m. Pacific Time on the 18th. She then hops an 11 p .m. flight out of California that night to make it back to Washington for a 10 a.m. practice on the 19th. " *Whew*

The BasketCases admire Nikki for her determination to complete her degree while tackling the demands of her rookie WNBA season! Congratulations Nikki on your graduation! The BasketCases and, we're sure Mystics fans everywhere, are proud of your accomplishment.

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Update: In Saturday morning's Washington Post, Jon Gallo writes about Nikki and her soon-to-be graduation. (Jon, have you been sneaking a peak at the BasketCases' blog again?) In his article, Gallo reports that Nikki will be "the second member of her family to graduate from college." Nikki says that "Being able to graduate is more of an accomplishment to me than playing in the WNBA because getting a degree and having that piece of paper sets an example for my family."

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Sweeeeeet!!! Coming into tonight's game in Charlotte, the Mystics had not won a road game since July 21, 2005. That's right, nine straight losses on the road extending back into last season. Tonight, however, the Mystics not only broke that string of road losses by defeating the Sting, 96-77, they also broke some records (well, at least one) along the way. After a close (and foul-plagued) first half, down 38-42, the Mystics broke the game wide open in the third quarter by scoring 35 points, setting a new WNBA record for most points scored in a quarter. And in the waning seconds of the game, with the Mystics sitting at 95 points, rookie Tamara James sank a free throw to give the Mystics, according to the announcers, a new franchise record! [There's only one problem . . . as our astute blog readers brought to our attention (see Comments below), the Mystics scored 97 points in a win over Utah on June 4, 2002.] Anyway --- back to the game --- with Crystal Robinson out suffering from cramps and most of the other starters in early foul trouble (in no small measure due to some questionable officiating), the Mystics' bench stepped up big time. Laurie Koehn in particular had a stellar night, playing nearly 20 minutes and shooting a perfect 4 of 4 from the field, including 3 of 3 from (way!) behind the three point line. The Road Worry-ers certainly looked like Road Warriors tonight.

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The BasketCases give a big shout out to the Comcast SportsNet broadcasting team of Byron Kerr and Christy Winters-Scott. Byron, who has been the Mystics' radio voice for years and who does a terrific job making the game come alive in that non-visual medium, was a good pairing with Christy. They provided informed commentary (and in some cases, misinformed commentary) with the right amount of energy; we hope to see more of Byron on TV in the future.

Road Worry-ers. Tonight's rematch between the Mystics and the Sting (Comcast SportsNet at 7 PM) has the BasketCases just a little bit worried, given the team's "road work" so far this season. In Jon Gallo's preview of tonight's game, DeLisha Milton-Jones points out that "Just because we won [on Tuesday] doesn't mean we can expect the same thing to happen." The Mystics know they need to take care of business if they are going to break the road jinx. Charlotte will be playing without Tammy Sutton-Brown and Helen Darling, both of whom were injured earlier this week in the game at the Phone Booth. But with or without those players, the Mystics are taking nothing for granted. As Alana Beard points out in the Washington Post article: "We can't worry about who they have and who they don't have . . . . We need to worry about the Mystics." The BasketCases agree.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Another Nominee for the Golden Twinkie Award! It will be hard for any sports writer to top the Hartford Courant's Lori Riley this year for the BasketCases' annual Golden Twinkie Award for Journalistic Accuracy . . . after all, reporting that a player who has never in her career actually suited up for a WNBA game was in fact in a game and made both her free throws is pretty hard to beat . . . but we do have another nominee: In today's Washington Times, Steve Silver writes that in last night's game against the Sting, Mystics players Chasity Melvin and DeLisha Milton-Jones both fouled out. Since the BasketCases were in fact at the game (we aren't sure about Steve), we know That Did Not Happen! [Note to Steve: if you go to the WNBA's web site, they have a nifty thing called a box score. That column with the heading "PF" means "personal fouls" (perhaps Steve thought it meant Phone-a-Friend, which may be what Steve was doing when he should have been watching the game.) Now, Steve, a "5" in that column means, well . . . five!! As in, one short of fouling out. And Steve, in case you thought you were watching a college game, *ahem* that season ended more than two months ago.]

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The same Washington Times article also qualifies for the Sharp Pencil Excellence in Editing Award, as it actually contains an editorial comment, clearly not meant for publication, in the body of the article saying: "these next 3 grafs could easily go, but i don't know if that would make it too short/kb." Well, shorter would be better if longer means readers are being told about phantom phoul-outs!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Better Late Than Never. Perhaps ESPN told the Mystics not to run up a big lead in the first half to keep the viewers from switching channels, or perhaps the Pod People who invade the Mystics bodies on the road just wanted to experience a little Phone Booth ambiance, in any event, the Mystics got off to a very slow start tonight before rallying to blow out the Sting 87-70. No doubt a few of the 8,004 loud and loyal Phone Booth Phanatics were a tad worried (but NOT the BasketCases, of course, who knew the REAL Mystics would show up). Late in the second quarter, the tide turned when the Mystics began attacking the basket and closed the gap to 3 points at the half. With Nikki Teasley leading all Mystics scorers (finishing with 19 points, 6 assists and 4 steals) and Alana Beard close behind (18 points and 4 assists), the Mystics made up for their slow start by scoring 53 points in the second half! The BasketCases also give a lot of credit to Chasity Melvin, who hit 3 of 3 from the field and 8 of 8 from the charity stripe and, in doing so, slammed the door on any possible Sting comeback. Pax Mystica continues to reign in the Phone Booth. These two teams face off again on Thursday in Charlotte. The BasketCases say that it's now time for the Mystics to build on tonight's performance and finally win on the road!

Happy Birthday, Tamara James! On behalf of Mystics fans everywhere (yes, even in you know where) the BasketCases send birthday wishes to Mystics rookie, Tamara James! We have it on the best authority (we hope) that today actually IS Tamara's birthday. We've also learned (well . . . truthfully, we're making this up . . . but it might be true) that when Tamara blows out the candles on her cake later, she'll be wishing for more minutes! So here's hoping that Tamara gets her wish and that the Mystics cruise to an easy win over the Sting, with everybody getting plenty of minutes and plenty of points! The BasketCases can't think of a better way to celebrate a Mystics birthday!

Battle of the Blue Devils. D.C. native and recent Duke grad Monique Currie, the third overall pick in this year’s WNBA draft, returns home tonight for the first time in her pro career as the Charlotte Sting face the Mystics at the Verizon Center. The game will be the second time that Currie has squared off against her good friend and former Duke teammate Alana Beard. In the first match up, on May 25 in Charlotte, Currie and the Sting got the best of the Mystics, 73-63. Alana no doubt is still smarting from that loss; she uncharacteristically fouled out, and did so in just 22 minutes. DeLisha Milton-Jones was also plagued by early foul trouble. According to Beard, "We had that game and we let it slip away. We lost our focus. We have to play smart. We can't have DeLisha and I sitting on the sideline and not scoring points and expect to win." During the past two summers, the BasketCases often spotted Currie at Mystics games, cheering Alana on. The BasketCases are confident that Mo won’t be cheering for Alana tonight.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Heart of the Game. This evening, the Mystics generously sponsored a free, advance screening of the documentary, "The Heart of the Game," for season ticketholders. The film has opened in NY and LA and goes into wider release shortly. Mystics Nikki Blue and Laurie Koehn were on hand to welcome and mingle with fans before the screening. Without giving away anything critical, we'll tell you that the documentary is a candid look at a high school girls' basketball team in Seattle, focusing primarily on the coach (who is a BasketCase if we ever saw one!) and one of the players. It's a funny, sad, entertaining and compelling human interest story, and one that has much to say about our society. The BasketCases give it two slam dunks.

Broken News? Hartford Courant staff writer Lori Riley reported that in yesterday's game "with 18.7 seconds left Sun center Margo Dydek blocked Zane Teilane's shot and was called for a foul. The fans showered official Darla Foutz Stevens with boos. Teilane hit both shots, but reserve center Le'Coe Willingham muscled into the lane and hit a shot, giving the Sun a 41-36 lead and momentum going into halftime."

Now perhaps our readers are wondering why the BasketCases with all their Latvian connections weren't the first to break the news about Zane's WNBA debut. There's a simple reason: It Did Not Happen! Margo actually fouled Nakia Sanford, who admittedly does bear a striking resemblance to Zane Teilane. For example, they are both tall.

Being the investigative bloggers that we are, the BasketCases wanted to get to the bottom of this matter, so we Googled Lori Riley and, interestingly enough, found that a Connecticut area Girl Scout by that name recently earned a merit badge for Journalism and that very same scout was also her troop's Cookie Queen of the annual fundraising drive. As her reward for both of these outstanding accomplishments, she received free tickets to a Sun game and a media all-access pass! Now, the BasketCases can't be certain that the Lori Riley who writes for the Courant and Lori Riley the Cookie Queen are one and the same, but in the event that they are, the BasketCases say to their loyal readers: let's not be too hard on Lori Riley. Any journalist can make a mistake (except, of course, our favorite basketball reporter, Mechelle Voepel), and in Lori's case all those Thin Mints could have impaired her ability to follow the game the same way Twinkies have been known to cause violent behavior. So, Lori, don't get discouraged. Keep working at being a sportswriter. Someday you may get it right. (By the way, Lori, do you ship cookies out of state? If so, email us. We love Samoas! Thanks!)

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Invasion of the Body Snatchers. The Mystics who have played and lost all three road games this season physically look like the Mystics we've seen play at the Phone Booth; they are wearing the same uniforms with the same numbers, and they answer to the same names. However, all resemblance ends there. They don't seem to play with the same finesse, skill, energy and drive of the Phone Booth Mystics. The BasketCases can only conclude that the Road Team Mystics are Pod People, who take over the genuine Mystics as soon as they leave our nation's capital and vanish once they return. How else to explain such decisive wins at home yet another lackluster showing on the road, as the Mystics lost this afternoon to the Sun, 85-71 (even without Connecticut starter Taj McWilliams-Franklin). While Alana Beard hit her 1,000th career point early in the second half, and scored a career-high 29 points, the team as a whole seemed to lack drive and energy. Somehow, Richie Adubato needs to figure out how to keep the Pod People from taking over on the road.

The only thing more lackluster than the Mystics' play today was the Comcast broadcasting duo of Charlie Neal and Christy Winters Scott, who combined for just about the dullest commentary the BasketCases have ever heard. Neal in particular was plodding and soporific, and he made numerous mistakes as he called the game. The BasketCases recommend saving the audio of this game in the event of insomnia.

News Flash: Game only on Comcast for the DC area. If you're in the DC area and looking for the Mystics/Sun game, it's on Comcast; NBA-TV is blacked out locally. Watch now!! Go Mystics!

Road Show . . . and Tell. The Mystics take their show on the road again today, playing the League-leading Connecticut Sun in Uncasville at 4 PM (NBA TV or webcast). While dominating at home, they have yet to notch a W on the road. The Sun will be playing without star center Taj McWilliams-Frankin who is in Italy attending her daughter's high school graduation. Without Taj in the line-up, the Mystics expect to see more of former Mystics player Asjha Jones and 7'2" Margo Dydek, who Coach Richie Adubato says is " Shaq." [Note to Richie: Yes, both are 7-footers, but Shaq weighs about as much as a Hummer and Margo, well, she weighs about as much as a bicycle.] In any event, Connecticut's experience and depth, and Margo's height, will test the Mystics' road game with or without Taj. In today's Washington Post preview, "Coach Richie Adubato said he was frustrated by the Mystics' performance in a 83-70 loss at Indiana on Wednesday in which the Mystics committed 16 turnovers and shot 44.4 percent (24 of 54). 'We can't play that way and expect to win,' Adubato said." The Mystics have used the days off to work on "executing offensively." How the Mystics perform on the road today should tell a lot about whether they are truly ready for prime time.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Missing Links? It has come to our attention that some of our loyal blog readers have failed to realize that the BasketCases employ only the most sophisticated cutting edge technology in their blog, and those readers are missing our links! Now, if you happen to be among those readers (we won't embarrass you by naming names) who are still trying to figure out (without success) how to feed punch cards (do not fold, spindle or mutilate!) into their Mac, here's a tip: When you see certain words within the text of our blog underlined and in a different color, just left-click that section of text, wait a few moments, and voila, you are magically redirected by hyperlink through cyberspace to an article, a message board, a website . . . or whatever. For example, let's say the BasketCases want to send a shout out to our Latvian readers (who, by the way, are experienced cyberspace-travelers, and are definitely not among our techno-impaired readers.) So we insert a hyperlink to Zane Teilane's fan site somewhere in our blog. Now don't get nervous . . . here comes the test: See if you can find the (heretofore) missing link!

Friday, June 09, 2006

No Taj in Mo-hall. When the Mystics take their game on the road Sunday to Mohegan Sun arena to face the Conference-leading Connecticut Sun, they will see a familiar face in the Sun's starting line-up, former Mystics player Asjha Jones. Asjha will be replacing Connecticut's usual starter, Taj McWilliams-Frankin, who left for Italy Thursday to attend her daughter's high school graduation. Taj will miss tonight's game between the Sun and the visiting Seattle Storm as well as Sunday's game vs the Mystics in Uncasville.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

"Mystics fans, come back!" says Mechelle Voepel in her latest column on! Good read and GREAT advice. The BasketCases say: Email this to every lapsed Mystics fan you know. It is time for the Mystics' prodigal fans (even those who moved to Latvia) to come home!

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Road Work. Well, the Mystics took their game on the road and let's just say it still needs some work. A run by the Fever late in the first quarter turned the game in Indy's favor and the Mystics never really recovered, losing by a final score of 83-70. The Mystics were hampered by early foul trouble, particularly Delisha Milton-Jones and Nakia Sanford. In the first half, the Fever shot 12 free throws to Washington's 4. Later, Alana Beard was called for a questionable charge, her made basket was waved off and any real attempt by the Mystics to close the gap on Indy seemed to evaporate. A well rested Tamika Catchings (returning after two games missed due to injury) put on an MVP performance to lead the Fever, scoring 26 points and pulling down 11 rebounds...and despite playing aggressively on both ends of the court wasn't called for a single foul until 5 minutes left in the 4th quarter! It was just one of those nights for the Mystics. Their road game definitely is still under construction.

NBA TV Tonight: Mystics at Fever, 7 PM. The BasketCases don't work for the cable TV company, or for NBA TV, nor do we accept advertising (at least not until someone offers us some!), so loyal blog readers, when we tell you that the $5 per month we pay Comcast Cable for their Sports Package is the best $5 we've ever spent, you can take that to the bank! Not only does the Package include NBA TV, but also a number of the Fox regional sports networks. During the long cold winter months (especially in Latvia), you can see women's college basketball games from all around the U.S., including a number of the Terps' away games. And now, during the WNBA season, you can see a host of games on NBA TV, including tonight's Mystics game at Indy. Only $5 per month . . . skip one beer every few games and you're there!

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Perfection. Any time a team sends 7 different players to the free throw line for a total of 18 tries and they hit---wait while we do the math---18 of them, that's perfection! Tonight the Mystics played not quite a perfect, but a great game of basketball. Besides hitting 18 of 18 from the charity stripe, they limited turnovers to single digits---9 in total, and only 1 by PG Nikki Teasley. While Nikki was busy NOT turning the ball over, she managed to dish 11 assists to her teammates as well as score 11 points herself! A double-double night for Nikki T. 2-Guard Alana Beard had another All-Star quality outing, scoring 22 points as well as recording 5 assists (vs zero turnovers). The Mystics' 93-79 win over the Comets ended Houston's 5-game win streak, the longest in the WNBA this season. The Mystics are undefeated at home (4 games), and have broken the 90 point barrier in every home appearance. They also set a franchise record tonight by scoring 55 points in the first half! (The BasketCases have painful memories of many games before the dawn of Pax Mystica when the Mystics were lucky to score 55 in an entire game!) The Mystics also pinned an unwanted franchise record on Houston: Washington's 93 points are the most ever given up by the Comets. Tonight's win -- which featured balanced scoring, aggressive rebounding, and limited mistakes (not to mention a MONSTER block by Nakia Sanford on All-World Tina Thompson) -- put the Mystics into a tie with Connecticut for first place in the Eastern Conference. It's still very early in the season, but what a way to start!

I can pee freely now. . . The National Champion Mayland Terrapins have returned from their European Tour and Coach Brenda Frese tells us in the final video postcard of the Terps' Tour that there's nothing quite like spending time in other countries to make you truly appreciate some of the special things about the good old U.S. of A. like ". . . going to the bathroom for free." The BasketCases couldn't agree more! Is this a great country, or what?

Cancer strikes Holdsclaw's Family. The answer to the question, "where is Chamique" was answered Monday when Mique returned to practice with the L.A. Sparks. In an interview with the L.A. Times, she disclosed that she had been in North Carolina with her team's permission helping to care for her father and her stepfather, both of whom had been diagnosed with cancer. Both fathers are undergoing chemotherapy. Chamique decided to return to the team once she had done "all [she] could possibly do." The BasketCases always believed that Mique had a very good reason for her leave of absence. We hope that both of her fathers make a full recovery and applaud Chamique for the devotion she's shown to her family.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Sheryl Swoopes? A poster on the Rebkell WNBA message board reports that Andrea Young, President & CEO of the Comets, said on Houston radio that Swoopes, who injured her back Sunday in the Comets' win over the Lynx, did not travel with the team to Washington.

Comets Comments. The Mystics host the league-leading Houston Comets Tuesday at 7 PM. Mystics GM Linda Hargrove was kind enough to answer the BasketCases' questions about the upcoming game, as well as about another matter of major interest to Mystics fans:

BC: Without Tina Thompson in the line-up, the Mystics outplayed the Comets in their preseason game. What adjustments will be required in the Mystics’ game plan now that Tina is back playing?

LH: "Tina is an elite player and will make a big difference when she is on the court. Her versatility is what makes her so difficult to guard. She is a great competitor and her ability to post up, put the ball on the floor and shoot the deep 3 is always a big challenge. You can't help off any of their starters so individual defense will be a big key, if we are to be successful."

BC: The Comets dominated the Lynx last night and have now won 5 in a row for the best record in the league. Do they have any weaknesses that the Mystics can exploit?

LH: "I really don't see any weakness but Dawn will have to guard either Teasley or Beard and if we can successfully expose that mismatch we could have some success. So far this season our bench has been very good and we will try to wear their starters down a little. In the preseason game, however, Hodges and Williams, both played well for the Comets, and Lyttle is now logging some minutes."

BC: Since Saturday night, speculation’s been rampant that Pax is pregnant. Can you either confirm or deny these reports?

LH: "As much as fans want to think that Pax and I have this really close friendship, I really haven't been privy to any personal things going on in her ? life. It would be kind of fun to have some baby pandas running around the Verizon Center though."

The BasketCases again thank Linda for sharing her insights with our blog readers, including those in Latvia.

If a Tree Falls in the Forest . . . It has not escaped the BasketCases' attention (or that of message board posters) that the Mystics' three home games this season have been among the least attended (if not the least attended) games in franchise history. And we aren't talking just a bit lower here. No, as of today, only Charlotte (the perennial bottom-feeder of WNBA attendance) and the expansion Chicago Sky (who have yet to win a regular season game at home) are averaging fewer fans than are the Mystics. That's scary. For several years, attendance was the one positive that Mystics fans could count on. But long gone are the days when 16,000 screaming fans would fill the Phone Booth game in and game out, generally to see the Mystics lose but still coming back, hoping against hope that this year would be the year. It never was. We don't blame folks for tiring of the soap opera that the original owners made of this team: the revolving door of coaches, the lack of a true GM (yes, Pat Summitt may be a hall of fame college coach, but if truth be told, she did exactly nothing to improve this franchise), some less than stellar draft choices, and ownership's benign neglect of plan-holders and other Mystics fans.

Now, however, the Mystics have stability in coaching, a real GM who has worked actively and successfully to improve the team through trades and free agent pickups, and a roster of truly talented players who also seem to enjoy playing together. Unfortunately, there are few fans left to see the results. Sheila Johnson and her staff -- who are not responsible for what went before -- have inherited a real mess. To say that they have a challenge ahead of them is an understatement. Following 8 years of disappointment on and off the court, how do the new owners go about winning back the biggest fan base in WNBA history? The BasketCases wish they knew the answer. Unfortunately, one thing is certain: it will take more than a friendly panda.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Grow Up Cave Man Bill! You want to protest yesterday's game because of a "clock integrity issue"? Now, the BasketCases wouldn't even think to question your integrity, Bill, so we're certain that the fact that your team was losing by a score of 53-34 when the clocks went down would have nothing whatsoever to do with your protest. We're sure if the score were reversed you'd feel the exact same way, because that's just the kind of honest stand-up guy that everybody in the league knows Bill Laimbeer to be. Seriously, stop whining, Bill. The BasketCases hate sore losers. Your team shot a blazing 29.9% yesterday. The only time all game the Shock threatened the Mystics was during the period when the clocks were taking a nap. You lost. Get over it. Don't be such a baby, Bill.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

The Clock, Not the Shock, Stops the Mystics. With Delisha Milton-Jones leading the way (21 points), and the other 4 starters also scoring in double figures, the Mystics controlled the Shock from tipoff to the closing buzzer. Detroit games are always physical and this one was no exception. Too many fouls (52 total) and too many turnovers (42) made this a somewhat frustrating game to watch--- no flow, no pace, lots of stops in play. The longest stop came early in the 3rd Quarter when the scoreboard, game clock and 24 second clocks took a half-hour off on Injured Reserve, while the BasketCases and the rest of the small but loyal crowd of Mystics fans in attendance were treated to an extra half-hour of Mayhem performances, Jumbotron entertainment, and the Mystics and Shock warming up, again. (And, does anybody know who the refs were talking to on their cell phones? Were they changing their flight? Or did did someone hear them say something about pepperoni, no olives?) While it may not have been one of the prettiest games (match-ups against Cave Man Bill and his Bam Bam Girls rarely are), it did have some very pretty moments. The BasketCases' favorite was the transition basket by Nikki Teasley when, on the break, she hesitated just long enough to sell the defense on her holding up, only to blow past her defender a moment later (with a huge smile on her face) to finish the play! This is the Nikki T who wowed her fans in high school, college and in L.A. -- the BasketCases are so happy that Nikki is now home in D.C. , where she belongs.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Defending (against) the Cave Man. The BasketCases would like to thank their blog fans at the NSA for passing along this little known fact: Using (highly classified) facial recognition software and satellite scanning, it has been incontrovertibly proven that Shock Coach Bill Laimbeer and Cave Man Fred Flintstone are in fact one and the same person! Don't believe us? Check him out for yourself: Saturday, Mystics vs Detroit, 4 PM at the Phone Booth.

It's a Dangerous Time... to be a team mascot in the DC area. First, Sheila Johnson turned Charm into wabbit stew. Seems she has a love affair with pandas. (Never mind that the ones in the National Zoo belong to China.) Now the Washington Post is reporting that Gunston, the green fuzzy mascot of George Mason University, is facing demotion, despite having gained national recognition this year when GMU became the Cinderella team of the men's NCAA tourney. What's next? Melting down Slapshot into hockey pucks?

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Overtime is NOT our time Anymore! Today in Paris, Aurelie Noirez's old team, Insep, beat the Terps IN OVERTIME, 91-88, for Maryland's first OT loss all year!!! Re-match tomorrow! GO TERPS!