Sunday, July 30, 2006

TRAIN WRECK. What the BasketCases witnessed Sunday night at the Phone Booth as the Mystics beat the Sting, 78-73, wasn't much of a basketball game --- more like a train wreck --- you know you shouldn't look, but in a perverse way you find it impossible to turn away.

The game started slowly --- an understatement if there ever was one. Both teams had played on Saturday and had to travel to DC; they were obviously tired. In a very sloppy first quarter, the Mystics had more turnovers than field goals. The period ended in a 15-15 tie and the BasketCases were beginning to think the Mystics had found a way to cure insomnia for fans all over the Comcast viewing area.

But after that, things got more "interesting." With 3:58 remaining in the first half, Alana Beard drove to the basket and was floored by a Sting player, only to be called for a charge. When AB picked herself up off the court and learned that she had been called for the foul, she began arguing with the ref, Michael Price, # 39. She said something to Price for which he immediately T'eed her up. While the BasketCases could not hear what it was, we were told by another fan that Alana suggested to Price that he'd had an inappropriate (and intimate) relationship with his mother.* Even after the technical, and despite Nakia Sanford's best efforts to drag Alana off the court, Alana was still complaining. Price immediately gave her another technical and ejected Alana from the game. The entire crowd erupted in boos and jeers. One fan sitting along the sideline was ejected -- something we've never seen before -- and another (in our row) was given a warning card by an official for suggesting that the refs were too "thin skinned." The card said that his next violation of the WNBA's rules of decorum would result in his own ejection. Wow! At the end of the half, the officials had to be escorted off the court by security guards as boos continued to rain down on them.

During the break, an enterprising fan (who must carry his own arts and crafts supplies to games . . . who knew?) made up a large sign with the number 39 inside an International "No" circle. He held this up during most of the second half --- to the crowd's delight --- and was featured on the Jumbotron, earning "Fan of the Game" honors and a $50 gift certificate. It's a good thing that Mystics owner Sheila Johnson is a billionaire, because the BasketCases suspect that the Mystics are going to be handing over some greenbacks to the league for that one!

Alana wasn't the only Mystics to earn the wrath of the refs tonight. Late in the fourth quarter, when Nakia Sanford picked up her sixth foul, she began arguing the call. As she walked to the bench, one of the refs gave her the International T-up sign. The BasketCases were extremely impressed that DeLisha Milton-Jones and Coach Adubato, both of whom have been known for being, shall we say, emotional at times, managed to keep their cool tonight. (Well, yes, Coach Richie did walk out onto the court after AB's ejection, but he didn't turn red in the face so we guess the refs gave him a free pass . . . either that, or they were so distracted by his sartorial choices --- uh huh, he was wearing his electric blue, white and pink combo again --- that the officials forgot to Tee him up.) But it was clear that, after the ejection incident, these refs would have tossed Dee or Richie in a heartbeat upon the slightest provocation. (Thank goodness, Tot remained firmly planted on the bench for all 40 minutes . . . or things might really have gotten interesting!) And speaking of DeLisha, she was AWESOME. She carried the team on her back, playing more than 38 minutes on her still sore knee. She led all scorers with 26 points (a career high), including 11 of 11 from the free throw line. She also had 9 rebounds, 3 steals, and only 2 fouls.

Oh by the way, the Mystics' win clinched the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. While the BasketCases are not surprised that the Mystics are going to the playoffs, since they typically do so in even numbered years, it's atypical for them to make it in through the front door, and to do so with so many games to spare. As Nakia Sanford said when apologizing to the crowd for the ugly game, "We're going to the playoffs!" Yeah, Baby!!!

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*Monday Morning Update: Folks close to Alana say she did not and would never use this language. The BasketCases certainly hope that's true. But whatever it was that Alana may have said, the fact remains that she must learn to control herself on the court and not get into a situation like this again. She's far too valuable to the Mystics to be tossed out of games!

Sunday Morning Update. The Washington Post's preview of tonight's home game against the Sting and its important playoff implications can be found here:

Saturday, July 29, 2006

M*A*S*H Unit. That's what Conseco Fieldhouse turned into for the Mystics tonight, as Crystal Robinson sprained her left ankle three minutes into the Indy game, and Nikki Teasley went down with a back contusion about five minute later. Neither returned, and their status is not known at this time. That left the Mystics with only nine dressed players, but that was enough for DC to defeat the Fever, 74-67, only their fourth victory ever in Indy and their first since May 23, 2004. Coming into tonight's game, the Fever had only lost twice at home this season. This was a big win for the Mystics, particularly on the road, and particularly given the injuries to two starters. It was accomplished by team play, a strong defensive effort, and not giving up when the Fever made the expected run in the fourth quarter. Alana Beard had another big night, scoring 21 points, and DeLisha Milton-Jones added 19 of her own. Coco Miller was huge off the bench, scoring 12.

The BasketCases hope that the injuries to C-Rob and Nikki T are minor and that both are able to play tomorrow.

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New York's victory over Charlotte tonight secured a playoff spot for the Fever (not that post-season play for Indy was ever in doubt). The Sting will be at the Phone Booth Sunday night for the second half of the Mystics' back to back. And assuming that the BasketCases have correctly applied their higher mathematical skills to the current standings (this involves such calculations as adding 6 and 13), we believe it's correct to say that if the Mystics beat Charlotte tomorrow, they will guarantee themselves a spot in the playoffs.

Mystics' Record Survives! For awhile there, the BasketCases were afraid that the Sky (or maybe even the Liberty) were going to erase the most famous record that the Mystics hold in the WNBA record book -- the worst season ever: 3-27!! However, Chicago notched their 4th win last night, beating the Lynx, 79-65, leaving the Mystics' record intact. The Mystics were helped by their former teammate, Stacey Dales, who led all scorers with 20 points (and perhaps also helped by the recent addition to Minnesota's coaching staff of Jim Lewis, inaugural head coach of the Mystics for that record-breaking 3-27 season). Having suffered through 3-27, the BasketCases are hoping that our season of futility will reign supreme in the annals of the WNBA forever.

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The Mystics take on Tamika Catchings and the rest of the Fever at Conseco tonight at 7pm EDT. Speaking of records, Indy will be starting the same five players for the 20th game in a row, a franchise record. (The Mystics have been fortunate enough to have the same coach for the 20th game in a row.) There's no TV coverage, but you can listen on WWRC 1260 AM, or via

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Wynonna and a Win. The Mystics got a much-needed win over the Sky tonight at the Phone Booth, 92-74. Although the final score makes it sound like the game was a walkover, in fact it wasn't until the fourth quarter that the Mystics put Chicago away. While DC played a good first quarter, the Mystics pretty much went on cruise control until the final period, playing some lackluster ball during the middle of the game.

Tonight's game was an integral part of Youth AIDS Day at the Verizon Center, sponsored by, among others, Sheila Johnson's Washington Mystics Foundation. The event began with a youth forum about AIDS in the afternoon, followed by the game. At halftime, R&B recording artist Lyfe Jennings performed the first single, S.E.X., from his new album. While the BasketCases are not quite the generation at which this song is aimed, from what we could gather, the message seemed to be: take a deep breath and don't rush into having S-E-X.

Following the game, an artist closer to the BasketCases' generation, country music superstar (and Youth AIDS U.S. Ambassador) Wynonna Judd treated the fans to a mini-concert. Wynonna put on a fantastic show. Listening to her sing "I Want to Know What Love Is" was worth the price of the game ticket all by itself. The BasketCases were privileged to have "front of stage access" passes that enabled us to be part of "Wynonna's Pit Crew." While it wasn't quite a mosh pit (there were no bodies being passed around as far as we could see), at our ages it could be the closest we'll ever get to one!

Photo Credit: DC BasketCases

The View . . . GM Style. This morning, Mystics GM Linda Hargrove was gracious enough to share her views about tonight's game against Chicago (7 PM @ Verizon Center) and other Mystics matters with the BasketCases readers:

BC: Lately, the Mystics have seemed troubled by inconsistency…some good or even great quarters, and some not so good. Any thoughts about the cause and/or the solution?

LH: "The inconsistency is definitely a problem. This is a problem that you would normally have early in the season so it is troubling that we are facing it now. I don’t like excuses, only results, but I think some things have fed into the level of inconsistency. DeLisha’s return has altered roles and rotations, Alana’s inability to practice, Tot’s absence from practice and games and Nikki T’s finger injury and flu. But the bottom line is that every team is tired and experiencing many of the same issues. We have to find a way to be more productive, play better on the defensive end and be consistent in our effort and execution."

BC: The media have reported that Alana's ankle is still so bad that she's not practicing, only playing in games. How does Alana's not practicing affect the team?

LH: "We are basically playing every other day, so Alana spends the day after a game with our trainer trying to get the swelling out of her ankle and doing all the rehab to be in the best position to be effective the next day when we play again. Alana is a worker so restricting her time on the court definitely works against her productivity but I think she has handled it really well."

BC: The BasketCases were at the Mystics game in Chicago and saw the Sky play the Mystics tougher than expected. Chicago seems to be better than their record. What are the keys to the Mystics coming away tonight with a “W” against the Sky?

LH: "I really like Chicago’s team. They are solid at every position and have quality depth. Candice Dupree will be a star in this league and we have had trouble guarding Bernadette Ngoyisa. They have solid defenders and between Dales, Lassiter, Jackson and Lovelace the 3 point shot is always a threat. I really give Dave Cowens props for having this team playing very competitive basketball and I think they have a great nucleus for the future. We must put together a more consistent game tonight or we could be in trouble."

BC: Since Dee’s injury, we’ve all had a chance to see Zane play some minutes. Can you share with our blog-readers (especially those in Latvia) how you think that Zane is progressing?

LH: "Zane continues to improve each day in practice and has shown that she can hold her own against the best. I’m really happy with her progress and look forward to seeing her again in the spring after she gets in a season in Barcelona."

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Thanks to Linda for sharing her views and for being such a fan-friendly General Manager! The BasketCases believe the Mystics are very lucky to have Linda on our team!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Next year in Jerusalem Washington. Thanks to a poster on the Rebkell board, the BasketCases have learned that next May, for the first time ever, a WNBA team will host an Israeli professional women's basketball team in an official preseason game. The host team is our very own Washington Mystics, and they will play a preseason contest against Anda Ramat Hasharon at the Phone Booth on May 13, 2007, shortly after the conclusion of the Israeli professional season. Profits from the game will be donated to battered women's shelters in the U.S. and to helping women battling cancer in Israel.

Prior to the 2005 WNBA season, the Mystics' Chasity Melvin played for Anda Ramat Hasharon in Israel and earned MVP honors. Many WNBA players, including the Mystics own C-Rob, have played in Israel and have fallen in love with the fans and the country. Last season, the BasketCases had the pleasure of meeting the marketing director of Anda Ramat Hasharon when she was in Washington taking in a Mystics game. No doubt that chance meeting with the BasketCases is what sealed the deal. *wink*

A Blast from the Past!! The BasketCases experienced a little déjà vu moment this morning when, over breakfast, they read in the Transactions column of the Washington Post sports section that Jim Lewis, the Mystics' very-first-ever head coach, who did not even make it through the first season in 1998 (when the Mystics finished with that quite memorable 3-27 record), has just been hired as an assistant coach by the Minnesota Lynx. The Lynx now sit in last place in the Western Conference; their head coach, Suzie McConnell Serio, "resigned" a few days ago.

First Nikki McCray back on center court at the Phone Booth . . . then Jim Lewis back coaching in the WNBA ! What's next, the re-signing of Heidi Burge and Keri Chaconas?? Whew!!!

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Speaking of the past, a poster on the RebKell board reports that the Detroit Shock have picked up the Sky's recently-waived pugilist, Elaine Powell, who was lost by Detroit in the expansion draft to Chicago. The BasketCases wonder what Cave Man Bill Laimbeer has on Dave Cowens that convinced Cowens (whose team is in the cellar) to give up a player for nothing. We'd really like to see those photos! *wink*

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

"House of Horrors." As tonight's game between the Mystics and the Sun was drawing to a close, with Connecticut winning 86-73, ESPN announcer Linda Cohn described the Reservation as a "house of horrors" for the Mystics, noting that DC hasn't won there since August 1, 2003. (Clearly, Linda was reading our blog this morning!) Since the game was televised nationally, the BasketCases assume that our loyal blog readers saw it, and thus we can spare you our recounting of yet another game in which the Mystics inexplicably failed to show up for all four quarters. Trying to end on a positive note, we will at least observe the good news that DeLisha Milton-Jones started for the first time since going out with a knee injury in June, that Zane Teilane had some good minutes -- knocking the ball away from Margo Dydek and scoring a few points of her own -- and that Tamara James and Nikki Blue finally saw some decent playing time (but Blue needs to watch it on the fouls). That's pretty much it. The highlight of our evening was the halftime feature on Alana Beard's dog, a cute little Yorkie named Chloe. (Our own little terrier loved it too. )

Bunny Body Guard for Richie. Mystics CEO Curtis Symonds announced today that Lincoln Holdings has signed a former Washington Sports employee to a personal services contract for the remainder of the season. An investigation by the BasketCases reveals that the "services" consist solely of serving as a a body (bunny?) guard for Coach Richie Adubato --- specifically, the new employee will position him (her?) self at all times between Coach Adubato and any WNBA official in the vicinity. The new employee is also required to place both hands (or feet) across Richie's mouth any time Richie attempts to address a referee verbally.

While most fans realize that coaches and players are assessed fines for technical fouls and ejections, some may not realize that the WNBA teams must also pay fines to the league when those incidents occur. During the course of our investigation, the BasketCases were told (unfortunately, we cannot reveal our source) that the Mystics organization decided it was cheaper to hire a new body/bunny-guard for Coach Richie than to keep paying the fines each time Richie is T'eed up.

Remember. . . you heard it here first, loyal blog-readers! Keep watching this space for all the latest Mystics news.

Mystics Trivia Contest: What is 48-45? If you guessed that 48-45 is the score of a typical game involving the Rutgers women's basketball team, well, you might be right. But since this is a Mystics blog, we had something else in mind. 48-45 is actually the final score of the ONLY game that the Mystics have ever won against the Connecticut Sun at the Reservation (aka Mohegan Sun Arena). The date was August 1, 2003. The only Mystics players from that dog of a fateful game who will still be on the court tonight when DC plays in Connecticut (7:30pm, ESPN2) are Coco Miller, Nakia Sanford, and Asjha Jones. Oops, Asjha now plays for the Sun! Are the Mystics in trouble, or what?

Seriously, the Sun are having another phenomenal year. They shot 51% last night (and clinched a playoff spot) as they cruised to victory over the New York Liberty, 89-71, even without All-Star Nykesha Sales. They are 9-2 at home and are on a 4 game winning streak. In order to beat the Sun in Connecticut tonight, the Mystics will not only need to play basketball for four quarters (something they have not been able to do of late), they will also need to bring their A-plus game for the entire 40 minutes.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

(d)Ejection. On Friday in San Antonio, the Mystics played three quarters of basketball, which was sufficient to beat the Silver Stars. Tonight in DC, however, the Mystics only played the last two quarters, which was not enough to beat the Storm. During the first half, the Mystics committed 13 turnovers and hit 9 field goals. You don't win too many games with that kind of stat, and indeed the Mystics dug themselves a hole that proved insurmountable despite a terrific second half by the team, including a career high 30 points by Alana Beard (still playing with a bad ankle) and another double double by Chasity Melvin. With 38.3 seconds left, Richie Adubato was called for his second technical and ejected. That pretty much summed up the game, as the Mystics lost, 73-71. Alana couldn't have said it better: "We didn't come to play and you can't do that in this game. You've got to come for 40 minutes."

There were a few memorable moments, though:

In nearly nine years of watching Mystics games, the BasketCases have never seen the game ball disappear, not even during half time magic acts. But tonight, with about 5 minutes left in the game, the officials and the teams returned to the court after a time out, only to find the game ball missing. Official June Courteau finally realized that the time out entertainment guys had taken it off the court with them after a kiddy shoot out contest. She called for the ball, and one was thrown out to her from a tunnel. Unfortunately, it was a cheap rubber ball, so June threw it back and asked for the real ball. Finally, a leather ball was thrown out. It was getting to be like a vaudeville act. June inspected the ball carefully, and handed it to Alana Beard, who likewise gave it a good looking over. They decided it was a go.

Sue Bird spent more time after warmups signing autographs and posing for pictures (graciously) than just about any player we have ever seen. She is a class act.

Latasha Byears, still on injured reserve (but expecting to play on Tuesday), was in black street clothes tonight, and the BasketCases do mean street clothes. Wendy Palmer was also in black street clothes, but all similarities ended there.

During pre-game warmups, WNBA Supervisor of Officials Dee Kantner came walking onto the court. Seattle Coach Anne Donovan and virtually all of the Storm players got big hugs from Dee. The BasketCases knew the Mystics were in trouble when they did not get so much as a long distance wave from her. And indeed they were.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Pugilist Powell Sent Packing. In a surprising move today (particularly since they have to pay her salary for the rest of the season), the Chicago Sky waived guard Elaine Powell, formerly of the Detroit Shock. Powell is perhaps best known to Mystics fans for cold-cocking Coco Miller during a Shock game in DC last season, sending her crashing to the floor. . . No foul was called. This followed an infamous incident during a game in Europe when Powell punched an opponent in the face, breaking a bone. Now, some in basketball consider that a flagrant foul. The BasketCases call it an assault.

Friday, July 21, 2006

The Won Win That Almost Got Away. The Mystics played three good quarters of basketball tonight in San Antonio, particularly the second. Unfortunately, there are four quarters in a WNBA game. So when the Mystics suffered a scoring drought for more than four minutes in the last period, the Silver Stars were able to climb out of a double digit hole to tie the game at 77 with about a minute left to play. Thankfully, Nikki T (playing with a jammed finger) drove to the hoop for two points. After a defensive stop by the Mystics, Nikki was fouled and hit one of two free throws, for an 80-77 lead. With time about to expire, Alana Beard put an exclamation point on the win as she blocked the final shot by San Antonio, a three point attempt by Shanna Zolman that would have sent the game into overtime.

Nikki T had a total of 14 points to go with an impressive 9 assists, while Alana led the Mystics with 18 points. The Mystics outrebounded San Antonio, 40-33, despite the Silver Stars' significant height advantage. San Antonio's Agnieszka Bibrzycka (fortunately for the announcers she's nicknamed "Biba") led all scorers with 19 points, and almost single handedly fueled the Silver Stars' comeback as she nailed 5 of 7 from three point range. The Mystics will have a happier trip home now, returning to DC with a winning record of 12-11 and holding the surging Charlotte Sting at bay.

Can it get any closer? The Mystics are in San Antonio today for a game against the Silver Stars at 8pm EDT. Both teams have 11-11 records, and each sits in 4th place in its conference. So tonight is a battle for a winning record and a further opportunity to solidify that last conference playoff spot. No pressure, Mystics. Just remember the Alamo; the visitors won there, too.

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The game will be televised nationally on NBA TV. Folks in the DC area with Comcast Cable should look for the game on Comcast Sports Net, which is broadcasting the game and will likely black it out on NBA TV here.

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Friday afternoon update: Tot did not make the trip to Texas.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Update on Tot. According to today's Washington Times, Latasha Byears has "foot tendinitis" (Moonie spelling) and is listed as day to day. According to today's Washington Post . . . well, there's no mention of Tot's absence from yesterday's game in the Post article. The BasketCases note that the latter was written by someone named Melanie Ho, not the Post's Mystics beat writer, Jon Gallo, and suggest that, in Jon's absence (which we hope is not from foot tendOnitis), Melanie be given a Mystics roster.

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And a big BOO to the Washington Post. Now that the BasketCases have seen the print edition with their own eyes, we can report that the (Tot-less) story of the Mystics' loss yesterday is on the front page of the sports section. We'd have absolutely no problem with that except that as far as we can recall, the Post hasn't put any story about a Mystics win on the front page this entire season. As they say in basketball, call 'em both ways.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Mercury Rising, Sunshine Returns. With the outside temperature and humidity climbing, the Phoenix Mercury managed to remain calm and cool this morning at the Phone Booth, handing the Mystics a loss at home, 96-83. Although the Mystics were up by 2 heading into the fourth quarter, they apparently were still not fully awake for the 11:30am Camp Day game, scoring only 12 points in the last period, while the Merc scored 27. Though the Mystics did manage to limit Cappie Pondexter to 8 points, four of her teammates finished in double figures, including Kelly Miller, who lit it up for 22, mostly while being guarded (not as effectively as one would have hoped) by twin Coco. About the only good news for Mystics fans today was the return of DeLisha Milton-Jones, who came off the bench to score 7 points in 9 minutes during the first quarter and provided good defense. The BasketCases were sooo glad to see DMJ back in action!!! Tot, however, did not play. Rumor has it that she's ill. We wish her a speedy recovery. Alana Beard was sporting a new henna hair color that she did not have in Chicago on Sunday. Since Alana led all scorers with 23, the BasketCases suggest that the rest of the Mystics spend tomorrow at the beauty shop before leaving for San Antonio.

Looking around the arena, it appeared that many season ticket holders were not able to make it to the dentist the morning game. They really didn't miss much. Camp Day has never been a favorite of the BasketCases. Thousands of screaming urchins children, many of whom haven't a clue as to what's going on and hence turn up the noise indiscriminately. Presumably in honor of Camp Day, a ten year old girl was chosen to sing the National Anthem. That would have been fine if the kid had the talent of a young Judy Garland, or even Shirley Temple. But this kid could not carry a tune. The BasketCases believe that our National Anthem should be treated with more respect.

Okay, it's really hot out, the Mystics lost, the BasketCases are still recovering from the temporary hearing loss caused by 15,000 kids screaming at the top of their lungs, and we are cranky. So we will leave our loyal blog readers with the best sign we saw today, which was held up by a young girl. It said: "Will Trade Brother for Jersey." Is that why a little boy was following Diana Taurasi off the court?

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

A Day Late and a Dollar Short Richer. Yes, it's true . . . the BasketCases went an entire day without a new blog. Ask any WNBA player (or blogger) -- they'll tell you road games are exhausting! Between the travel and the game (not to mention, but we will, being mobbed by our autograph-seeking Chicago fans) the BasketCases were sorely in need of a day off.

But we're back --- a day later --- and we are happy to report that our mobile-blogging roadtrip was a resounding success! The Mystics won and our cutting-edge technology did not fail us. Also, a friendly Sky fan took our "bet your bottom dollar that the blues (Sky) would lose" literally and insisted on sending the BasketCases home a dollar richer! How great is that?!!

The BasketCases are looking forward to seeing the Mystics extend their winning streak when the team faces the Phoenix Mercury tomorrow (at 11:30 AM!!) in the Phone Booth for the annual Kid's Day or Camp Day or whatever it's called. The BasketCases have some advice for those of you wondering how can you possibly sneak away from work to see the game . . . two words: "loose filling"! Now, we also have some advice for those of you already planning to attend: Arrive early. Kid's Day poses one hazard not usually present in the arena: Bondage! (No, not that kind of bondage . . . shame on you for even thinking such a thing --- you know by now, this is a PG-rated blog!) No, the BasketCases are talking about how the concourse is full of long strings of roped-together color-coded packs of children. Just when you think you have found the entrance to your section, you can easily be surrounded by camper-strings that are harder to unravel than a strand of DNA. The BasketCases know this from personal experience! So, when visiting your dentist heading off to the game, leave yourself plenty of extra time!

Tomorrow's game is not one you would want to miss unless absolutely necessary. Not only does it bring the famous (infamous?) Diana Taurasi to town along with All-Star rookie sensation Cappie Pondexter, but more important, this is your only opportunity left this season to see if you can tell the Miller twins apart! Coco's identical twin, Kelly, plays for the Mercury. As our loyal blog-readers know, the BasketCases had the pleasure of meeting Coco's and Kelly's family in Chicago this past Sunday. The Millers are delightful people and we hope both their daughters play well tomorrow (but since one of them has to lose, the BasketCases hope it's Kelly).

[Note to Mystics fans: If you don't already know where the BasketCases sit in the Phone Booth, tomorrow just look for the people holding a poster-size blow-up of our exclusive photo of the Millers dressed in full-Mystics regalia, with a legend in large print that says: "Attention Kelly: Coco really IS their favorite!"] *just kidding*

Photo credit:

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Sunday, July 16, 2006

Sky wilt when Mystics turn up the heat. Live from Chicago: Playing in a sweltering UIC Pavilion in a city where an excessive heat warning was issued today (hellooo, it's called summer), the Mystics battled an improving Sky team to an 83-75 victory. Nakia Sanford led all scorers with 20 points, and Coco Miller sparked the Mystics' comeback after the Sky went ahead by one late in the game, which no doubt made the Miller family as happy as it made the BasketCases.

As promised, a few BasketCase observations direct from UIC. . .

First, the very good news for Mystics fans is that DeLisha Milton-Jones was warming up with the team and moving well. The BasketCases hope this means she'll be back in the lineup soon.

Alana Beard looked very stylish in her orange and white WNBA All-Star shoes, which she wore for tonight's game, even though they didn't match her blue away uni.

The UIC Pavilion is a good size for a new WNBA team (and, quite frankly, a lot of existing teams). Its one major drawback is the lack of a Jumbotron. Hence, no video introductions, no replays, no special features of any kind. The Sky did have something we really loved, however: the Kaotic Drum Line, a Southside Chicago group that played before the team was introduced and during some time outs, as well as after the game. They also started playing when the Mystics were at the free throw line, which had to be a bit disconcerting because the sound was so loud it shook the stands. They were incredibly talented, and the BasketCases were jealous that we don't have something like that at the Phone Booth.

Sky Guy, the Chicago "mascot," looks like a comic book action figure on steroids. Very friendly, but kind of seedy looking. And why did they go with a "guy" for a women's professional basketball team?

Zane Teilane played tonight, and played well. It was almost like having our own personal Margo Dydek on the Mystics. Unfortunately, the announcer neglected to read his media guide, which contains pronunciations of players' names, and called her Zayne Teelane. The BasketCases were sitting close enough to him to correct him (politely, of course). We hope that made our Latvian readers especially happy.

It's been a fun time in the Midwest, but the BasketCases will be glad to be heading home . . .
Photo Credit: DC BasketCases

Pre-game at UIC

Live from UIC: upon our arrival at UIC Pavilion, the BasketCases were delighted to see Coco Miller's family, who were kind enough to pose for a pre-game pic. The Mystics will have a great cheering section for sure!

Daddy's Little Girl? Possibly the last person in the WNBA (maybe even on earth) the BasketCases would ever describe that way is Latasha Byears , so what a surprise to us, after the disappointment of the Chicago Tribune (see post below), to find not only an entire article in today's Chicago Sun-Times about Tot (former DePaul star), but the following quote from her college coach, Doug Bruno:
[W]hile she's a tough person outside, inside she's daddy's little girl -- me being her daddy. She used to tease me, saying, 'Daddy's little girls are always the kids that do everything right and perfect.' And I'd say to her, 'You're daddy's little girl.'''

Road Trip, Day Two: Hot time in Chicago. No, loyal blog readers, that's not a reference to the BasketCases' night life, but to the mid-90-degree heat wave that washed over Chicagoland just in time for our arrival. Thankfully, it's not humid, although the natives think it is. But they don't know from muggy. And another thing they don't know about: car sunscreens! All over Chicago, people are frying when they get back into their parked cars....

We were just settling in with a bagel and the morning paper, hoping to read a nice preview in the Chicago Tribune about this evening's game between the Mystics and the Sky. But there is none. Seems that would be too much coverage of women's sports for the Trib. And we're told this is typical. So while folks in DC complain about the Post's insufficient coverage of the Mystics (and we agree, a front page story every now and then would be nice), at least Jon Gallo has a morning story when the Mystics are playing at home later that day.

Unless our highly sophisticated mobile blogging technology suffers a meltdown in an unshielded Chicago car, the BasketCases will be reporting later from the UIC Pavilion, where we expect the Mystics to turn up the heat on the Chicago Sky.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

XMs and Ohs. Road trip, Day One, Indianapolis. Loyal blog readers, satellite radio sounds good in theory, but when you are on an extended road trip, and one of you is locked into the '60s channel, thanks to XM radio, your trip (no pun intended) can quickly turn into a bad Hair day:

BasketCase Judith (singing along):

Gliddy glub gloopy
Nibby nabby noopy
La la la lo lo
Sabba sibby sabba
Nooby abba nabba
Le le lo lo
Tooby ooby walla
Nooby abba naba
Early morning singing song

BasketCase Eileen: Oh no . . . not another one of those old songs. I swear if you start singing about a cake left out in the rain, I will drive off the next bridge we come to.

BasketCase Judith (singing):

Walking with the Mystics
Makes you want to smile
Driving with the Mystics
Mile after mile...

Friday, July 14, 2006

Road Trip (hopefully NOT from Hell). Like the Mystics, the BasketCases are hitting the road this weekend, heading to the Windy City to take on the Chicago Sky on Sunday. We'll be doing the cheering and the Mystics will be doing the winning (we hope)!

This will be the BasketCases' first opportunity to beta test our new highly-sophisticated-cutting-edge mobile blogging technology. Keep your fingers crossed that it all works! So, loyal BasketCases blog-readers . . . watch this space for our eyewitness (and typically demented) reports of the game and whatever else we may stumble across on the road. You can be sure we'll let you know what's it like to watch a WNBA game in a college arena with NO JUMBOTRON, how the food at the UIC Pavilion compares with that at the Phone Booth and whether the injured-but-said-to-be-recovering Stacey Dales returns to the Sky's lineup in honor of the BasketCases' visit --- plus much much more news that Mystics fans all around the world (especially Latvia) can't possibly live without!

Chicago, Chicago,
That toddlin' town
Chicago, Chicago,
I'll show you around,
I love it
Bet your bottom dollar
The blues (Sky) will lose
In Chicago, Chicago

[Note to our Chicago blog-readers: the BasketCases will be signing autographs at halftime on the concourse outside Section 115.]

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Road Trip From Hell. Three bus loads of loyal Mystics fans got much more (or, actually, much less) than they bargained for on Wednesday on a Mystics-sponsored bus trip from DC to New York for the All-Star Game. Here's how one fan recounted the story to the BasketCases:

"There were 3 buses that left the Verizon Center at 12:30 PM for the trip to NYC. One of the buses had a mechanical failure on the highway just before Aberdeen Maryland, the 2 other buses waited about an hour on the side of the road while the bus drivers tried to fix the bus to continue the trip to NYC. After tinkering and not being able to fix the broken down bus for an hour, the Bus Drivers decided to send the broken bus back to the garage. The passengers on the broken bus were loaded onto the other 2 buses for a short trip to the Maryland Road House, where we stayed for another 1 1/2 hours until the repair bus came back to pick up its passengers. The Mystics Fans arrived at Madison Square Garden just after 7:30 PM. By the time we got to our seats it was the start of the 2nd Period. (We missed the entire 1st Period.) Yep it took us 7 hrs to get to NYC.

The Game ended shortly after 9:00 PM. The Mystics Fans gathered at the corner of 34th and 7th Avenue for an hour until the Buses picked us up for the return ride to DC. The return trip included 2 Stops, 1 at a Rest Stop and another at a Truck/Bus Gasoline Station. The Buses arrived back at the Verizon Center at 3:45 AM Thursday Morning. Yep 6 3/4 hrs after the end of the All Star Game."

That awful story just speaks for itself. To add insult to injury, because they missed the first quarter of the ASG, the bus passengers missed Alana Beard scoring the first 4 points of the game for the Eastern Conference. It was a terrific gesture for the Mystics to have arranged this trip, and we're sure everyone in the front office feels terrible about what happened. The BasketCases hope the fans on those buses are given something really meaningful as compensation (like a chunk of their $$ back, and their own personal videotape of the game, so they can see what they missed). The Mystics are sponsoring another bus trip to New York in August, for a Liberty game. The BasketCases recommend Amtrak instead.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Taking New York by storm. CONGRATULATIONS to Alana Beard and the other Eastern Conference All-Stars!! First ASG win by the East, 98-82! Way to go!!

Photo credit: NBAE/Getty Images

New WNBA Uniforms? When Nancy Lieberman hosted the pre-All-Star Game festivities Tuesday on NBA TV, she also modeled the new WNBA uniforms that Donna Orender intends to introduce next season. As you can see, this lacy camisole number will allow the players far more freedom of movement than they have now, particularly in the chest area if you get the BasketCases' drift. Nancy even demonstrated that by wearing this outfit as she jiggled ran through the "dribble, dish and swish" skills course --- dribbling, passing, and shooting. Far more was swishing than the WNBA ball, and indeed the BasketCases feared that this would turn into a Janet Jackson equipment failure moment. It was, quite frankly, not a pretty sight. It was kind of Nancy to agree to this new uni demonstration. (Either that, or the airlines lost her luggage.)

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The Ghost of Carnac the Magnificent stopped by this morning to share a little of his knowledge of the WNBA and tomorrow's All-Star Game with the BasketCases and our loyal readers. Here's what Carnac had to say from the great beyond:

Carnac: Catch-22

BasketCases: CATCH-22 is the answer. What is the question, Carnac the Magnificent?

Carnac: Out of 100 fouls committed against the Mystics, how many does Bryan Enterline actually catch?

BasketCases: Oww!

Carnac: May a sick yak leave a gift in Bryan Enterline's sock drawer.

BasketCases: Any more wisdom for our readers, oh great Carnac?

Carnac: Alana Beard

BasketCases: ALANA BEARD?

Carnac: Which 2-guard will start for the Eastern Conference in the WNBA's 10th Anniversary season All-Star Game?

BasketCases: That's wonderful!! Are you sure Detroit's Deanna Nolan won't be getting the start?

Carnac: May the winds of the Sahara blow a scorpion up Bill Laimbeer's boxers.

BasketCases: OK . . . uh, perhaps after the good news about Alana, now would be a good time for you to return to the netherworld. Any parting words, Carnac?

Carnac: May a diseased camel squat in Donna Orender's hot tub.

Well, BasketCases readers . . . you heard it here first, Carnac is predicting Alana will be starting in the All-Star Game --- you have Carnac's word on it! Good luck, Alana! Have fun in the Big Apple . . . you've earned it . . . Mystics fans everywhere (including Latvia) are proud of you!

Monday, July 10, 2006

Teammates. Today's LA Times has an article about Latasha Byears's "quiet" battle back to the court that reinforces how supportive DeLisha Milton-Jones and Nikki Teasley -- Tot's former Sparks teammates and now current Mystics teammates -- have been. According to Richie Adubato, both were instrumental in convincing the Mystics to bring Tot in from the cold (or, to be more precise, from Turkey) after her release by the Sparks in 2003 and her apparent blackballing by the WNBA. Tot herself is upbeat:

"Everything I went through was worth it to get back to play. I'm a fighter; I ain't just gonna lay down for nobody. And that sends a message to other people who go through similar situations — don't give up. It's ways out here to deal with people. That's why we've got a justice system."

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Points in the Paint, Panda Party, and deParting Player. Nakia Sanford and Chasity Melvin combined for 45 points this afternoon as they led the Mystics to victory helped the Mystics manage not to lose to the expansion Chicago Sky, 89-83.

* * * * * * * * *
At halftime, Mystics fans were treated to team owner Sheila Johnson singing Happy Birthday (twice, no less) to Tai Shan, the panda cub at the National Zoo, who turned one today. Tai Shan, however, was too busy celebrating at the Zoo to attend the game, so the BasketCases have no idea whether he enjoyed Sheila J's singing. Mystics mascot Pax the Panda filled in for the little tyke. [Sorry, Sheila, but the BasketCases still miss Charm --- Pax simply does not have the same personality as the Blue Mutant Bunny from Hell. And we are still scratching our heads over what a panda has to do with the Mystics. And, uh, Sheila, you do know, of course, that the panda belongs to China?]

* * * * * * * * *
Too bad the Mystics forgot the old show biz saying: never follow kids or animals. They made poor Nikki McCray follow the little panda's party (whoopee) to be honored as she retires from the WNBA. However, once Nikki took the court, it was clear that the fans who had stayed in their seats at halftime were there for her, not the cubbie. (Sorry, Tai Shan.) The crowd greeted Nikki with a great deal of warmth and a standing ovation, and Nikki responded by bursting into tears. She expressed what was plainly heartfelt thanks to the DC fans who had supported her for so many years, and said that she wanted to end her WNBA career by coming back to the court where it all began. It was an emotional moment for the BasketCases and other fans who have been around from the very start. We wish Nikki the best.

Tot-o Thrown under the Buss. When Kobe Bryant was charged with rape, Jerry Buss and his son Johnny Buss (owners of the Lakers and the Sparks) stood by him, signing Kobe to a new obscenely rich contract and even picking up the tab for Kobe's charter flights to Colorado where he was facing the rape charges. When Latasha "Tot-o" Byears was accused (not by the alleged victim apparently) of sexual assault --- though she was never arrested and never charged --- she was immediately tossed off the Sparks by the same owners who were lavishing millions on Kobe. According to the Buss family, Latasha was causing "dissension" on the team. However, in the words of SLAM magazine sports columnist Dave Zirin, she was "thrown under the bus."

In this morning's OUTSTANDING feature by John Barr on ESPN's Outside The Lines, a weekly broadcast hosted by Jeremy Schaap, we learned from on-camera interviews with Latasha's former Sparks teammates DeLisha Milton-Jones and Temecka Dixon that after Tot-o was sent packing, the entire team, together, went to the Sparks' owners and begged for her reinstatement. "Dissension," huh? Nikki Teasley added that she was at the party where the alleged incident occurred, and was certain that if something like that had happened, she would have known. And Karleen Thompson, the Sparks' Assistant Coach at the time, stated that she believed Latasha's assertion of her innocence.

There was much much more to this program. If you didn't get to see it, find someone with a copy and borrow it! The BasketCases put this one in the category of required viewing!

Meet Linda . . . Live! Mystics GM Linda Hargrove hosts her first "Chalk Talk" of the season today at 3 PM in the Coca Cola Theatre on the 400 Level of the Verizon Center. No invitation necessary and admission is free (as long as you have a ticket to the game, that is). Here's your chance to meet Linda, to ask her some questions and hear what she has to say about the Mystics' game against the Sky. The BasketCases guarantee you'll be glad you stopped by.

* * * * * *
At halftime of today's game, the Mystics will honor recently retired Nikki McCray. Nikki was the first player assigned by the League to the Mystics when the franchise was launched in 1998. Nikki played for the Mystics for four seasons before being traded to the Indiana Fever.

* * * * * *
And while we're on the subject of "recently retired" former Mystics, don't miss Jon Gallo's article in today's Washington Post about how Stacey Dales (no more Shuman) has found "Blue Sky in Chicago." In the article, Linda Hargrove reveals how the Mystics lost Stacey to the expansion Chicago Sky:
"I called Stacey several times to try to convince her to come back and play for us," said Linda Hargrove, Washington's general manager. "But every time, she told me she was retired, and I believed her. Why wouldn't I? But then I found out from the league office the Sky was talking to Stacey and then I got a call from [Chicago] Coach [Dave] Cowens asking about her.
"Then Stacey called and told me what was happening. By that time, we couldn't change our list of players we were protecting. If we knew she was coming back to play in the WNBA, then we would have protected her. There's no way we would have let Chicago take her."

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Proud Mama. Why is Marie Beard (still) smiling? Well, you'd be smiling too if your daughter had just been named a reserve* on the Eastern Conference All-Star team. The BasketCases extend a big congratulations to Alana!!

*Re-serve: n. 1. a WNBA player who would have been chosen as a starter on the All-Star team if more of the fans actually knew something about basketball and had voted based on merit.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *
Tot on TV. Set your DVRs now: on Sunday morning at 9:30am, Latasha Byears will be featured on ESPN's Outside the Lines. And an article posted today on recounts Tot's rocky time in the WNBA, her release by the Sparks after a sexual assault accusation -- the same team owners who lavished millions on Kobe Bryant despite the rape charges -- and her return to the league, thanks to Mystics GM Linda Hargrove. Statements by DeLisha Milton-Jones and Linda Hargrove in this article show the kind of people they are:

"Help me understand your logic as to why you're just bending over backwards for Kobe, spending I don't know how many thousands of dollars to fly him to Colorado and then to playing a game," Milton-Jones said. "And you have Latasha here who's just being accused of something and you just throw her to the wayside for the dogs to have. It's not right."


"She's a controversial player," Mystics General manager Linda Hargrove said. "There are going to be some people in the league that question the decision to bring Latasha back. It ended up coming down to … we believed in giving her a second opportunity."

Friday, July 07, 2006

Will You Marry Me? Well, at least there were two Mystics fans who went home happy tonight. Unfortunately their happiness had nothing to do with the game. Washington lost at home to the defending WNBA champion Sacramento Monarchs (73-60) and dropped below .500 for the first time this season. However, with about 2 minutes remaining in the game, Lisa proposed to Anthony, her beau of 13 years, on the Jumbotron. Happily, he said yes. Finally, the hometown crowd had something to cheer about during the 4th quarter from hell.

Alana Beard was back in the lineup for the first time since spraining her ankle last Saturday in L.A. Ever the fighter, she had spent the last week icing her ankle for half an hour every 90 minutes, all day and all night. The team seemed hesitant at first with Alana back on the court, perhaps not sure how well she could play. The Mystics dug themselves into a 14-point hole, but managed to climb out of it by halftime and take a one point lead into the locker room. The teams played even during the third period (and not particularly well), but then the Mystics went completely cold (we're talking ARCTIC cold) to open the final quarter, not scoring a single point for the first 5:40 of that period, while the Monarchs scored 11. And that was that for D.C. . . . A very lackluster performance by the Mystics. At least Anthony and Lisa will have wedding bells.

Homecoming Queens Monarchs. When the 2005 WNBA champion Sacramento Monarchs visit the Phone Booth tonight (7 PM tip-off), two of the players in purple may look familiar to the local D.C. fans. Guard Kara Lawson grew up in the Virginia suburbs (yes, we know she played Pee Wee football) and played at West Springfield High School before heading to Knoxville to play her college ball with Pat Summitt and the Lady Vols. Forward Rebekkah Brunson was born and raised in the D.C. Metroplitan area (Oxon Hill) and starred for the Hoyas at Georgetown University.

Neither Kara nor Becky has any problem filling her free time when she's not busy playing in the WNBA. For the last two offseasons, Kara has been working as a television commentator for the Sacramento Kings, and the BasketCases have loved Kara's commentary on ESPN during the women's college basketball season. Becky, in addition to playing basketball in Belgium, has managed to find time to launch the 32 Foundation, a non-profit organization located in Maryland that serves the D.C. area. The goals of "32" are to provide academic and athletic enrichment programs, to award scholarships, and to initiate programs to spur amateur play and mentoring of at-risk teens. Both Kara and Becky are clearly more than just talented on the court!

Until the Terps' Season-of-the-Natty this year, the "fun-est" basketball season the BasketCases have ever had was Kara's senior year in high school when she led the West Springfield Spartans to the Virginia State Championship. Kara was absolutely amazing! Our official Spartan sweat-soaked rally-towel is still enshrined in the BasketCases' Hall of Fame. [But we're sorry Kara, as much as we wish you well, don't expect to see us waving it for you tonight --- we love you, but we are Mystics fans through and through.]

Photo Credit:

No Beard Before Break? According to this morning's Washington Post, Alana Beard could barely walk during practice, and Coach Richie Adubato says he is "planning on not having her until after the All-Star break." This means that Alana would miss tonight's game against Sacramento and Sunday's against the Sky. The BasketCases could not agree more with Richie's assessment of playing without Alana: "Obviously, it's a huge loss for us."

While Coach Richie says she won't play, Alana is still lobbying to get back in the line-up sooner. In the same article, Alana tells the Post: "Right now, it's hard to say if I'll play [tonight] . . . . It's just a matter of what happens with my rehabilitation. I've iced my ankle for a half-hour every ninety minutes for the past five days." The BasketCases suspect that Richie will have the final say.

Message to Alana: The BasketCases admire your willingness to play hurt, but listen to Coach! We need you to be healthy down the stretch and in the playoffs.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Just Missed in Minny. Playing their second full game without leading scorer Alana Beard, and still without DeLisha Milton-Jones, the "mean and feisty" Mystics lost tonight to the Lynx, 84-74. DC came out playing well, and kept the score close during the first quarter. But they shut down early in the next period, and Minnesota threatened to break the game open with a 14-2 run that put them up 31-19. Late in that quarter, however, the Mystics battled back, with rookie Tamara James scoring the last two baskets of the half to close the gap to ten at the break (46-36). The Mystics began the second half on fire, with Nikki T and C-Rob leading DC on a 17-7 run to bring the score to 53-53. While Minny answered with a 7-0 run of its own, Nikki's and Crystal's hot hands from outside the arc kept the Mystics close at the end of the third period. But the depleted Mystics simply could not get the job done at the end, and had no answer for Seimone Augustus (the BasketCases' choice for Rookie of the Year), who led all scorers with 25.

In the Minneapolis Star Tribune "Augustus said Washington was the most physical team the Lynx had faced recently." Now, the BasketCases suspect that Coach Adubato might agree that it was a "physical" game . . . but probably not agree that the physical play was all instigated by the Mystics. In his (amazingly candid) post-game quotes, Richie has this to say:
"This was the worst-officiated game that I've ever had in this league. Thirty-one fouls to seven, okay? They shot 31 free throws, we shot seven. When it was 73-67, we had a breakaway. Coco Miller went to the basket and couldn't have got hit harder in a New York subway. She couldn't have got hit harder; she got hit over the head. They make that call, it's 73-69 -- you've got a four-point game. You can't miss that call. I'm 75 feet away, but I can't fault my team when they shoot 31 foul shots and we shoot seven, and then they win the game. First half we were down, got it back to 10. We should've been up, but we didn't get one call. Come on, 31-7. It can't be."

So, Richie, how do you really feel? *wink*

While this was a disappointing loss, the BasketCases are encouraged by the Mystics' play without their two leading scorers. There can be no question that the difference in this game was the two players in street clothes on the Mystics' bench. Although the loss of AB and Dee has clearly hurt the team in the short term, the additional playing time for Nakia and Coco and the additional "go to" responsibility for C-Rob and Chas may well pay dividends in the long run.

Missing the Lynx? Contrary to some reports that Mystics' leading scorer Alana Beard (18.9 ppg) will not return to the line-up until after the All Star break, the team still lists her as day-to-day. The BasketCases have learned from a reliable source that Alana's status for tonight's 8 PM game against the Minnesota Lynx (WRC 1260 AM) at the Target Center is still uncertain. Alana will be testing her injured ankle a couple of hours before the tip-off to determine if she's ready to play.

In any event, the Mystics will once again be without their second leading scorer, DeLisha Milton-Jones (12.8 ppg), who remains on the Injured List. If Alana is unable to play tonight, the team hopes that Alana will be ready to return to action in one or both of this weekend's games at the Verizon Center.

At home on May 27th, Alana scored 25 points to lead the Mystics to a relatively easy win over the Lynx (90-75). Latasha "Tot" Byears posted career highs (20 points and 14 rebounds) in that earlier meeting. With or without Alana, the Mystics will certainly need a big night from their other veteran players (including Tot, Chas, C-Rob, Kia and Nikki T) --- who certainly stepped up BIG in the gutsy win over Phoenix Sunday night --- in order to complete the season sweep of Minny.

* * * * * *
One place the BasketCases can guarantee you won't be seeing Alana is in the starting line-up at this year's All-Star game. The starters --- voted by the fans --- were announced today on Becky Hammon of the NY Liberty will be starting for the East at the 2-guard position. The other Eastern Conference starters are Indy's Tamika Catchings and three players from the Sun: Nykesha Sales, Margo Dydek and Lindsay Whalen.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Happy July 4th to All!

Monday, July 03, 2006

Alana Goes Commercial. This evening, while catching up on the local TV news, the BasketCases were surprised to see a familiar face, that of the Mystics' own Alana Beard, doing a commercial for Cox Communications, a cable TV and Internet service provider and a sponsor of the Mystics. Alana was in her Mystics uniform, on a basketball court, and showing her best defensive moves as she described how Cox Internet blocks pop up ads and other unwanted intruders as easily as she blocks opponents' shots. The commercial was obviously filmed before Alana sprained her ankle in L.A.; the BasketCases hope it's not the only appearance by Alana in uniform this week!

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Gut Check. The depleted Mystics were put to a real test on Sunday night: the second game of a back to back, facing the full strength Phoenix Mercury (including Taurasi and Pondexter) without DeLisha and without Alana. Down by as many as 17 points, the Mystics dug deep and pulled out the win, 81-78. Nikki T provided the critical four points down the stretch when the Mystics were down by one to cement the victory. Veterans Chasity Melvin and Crystal Robinson led the scoring with 20 points and 15 points, respectively. Nakia Sanford continues to evolve from a bench player to a genuine starter, with 14 points and 8 boards. Tot Byears also had 8 rebounds to go with 11 points in 15 minutes off the bench. The Mystics dominated the glass 55-31 and were nearly perfect from the free throw line, hitting 23 of 26. This was a phenomenal performance by the Mystics. On to Minny!!

Update on Alana. A homing pigeon who flew all night from the West Coast has reported to the BasketCases that Alana has been working intensely with the trainers since last night's game and her status is "day to day." Keep your fingers crossed that she'll be ready to go against Phoenix tonight.

Cheap Shot. Thanks to the benefit of digital technology, the BasketCases have been able to examine in detail the "incident" last night that resulted in double technicals on Nakia Sanford and former Mystic Temeka Johnson. Our conclusion is that Temeka took a swing at Kia's head, from behind, after Kia had already passed her and Temeka had absolutely no chance of getting the ball or blocking the shot. No wonder Kia was so ticked off that she turned around and chest bumped Temeka. (The BasketCases are not saying that what Kia did was right, but it was a very human response.) Cheap shot, Temeka.

Curse O' Les Boulez. Anyone familiar with Tony Kornheiser (Washington Post and ESPN's PTI) knows all about the Curse. For those who don't know Tony (well, you should!), it's the term he's coined to express the theory that all the really really bad draft choices, all the injuries and other "bad luck" that always seems to strike Washington's sports teams just at the absolute worst times is actually more than just "bad luck". . . it's a Curse.

The Curse may have reappeared again Saturday night in L.A., when Alana Beard injured her ankle and left the for the locker room early in the first quarter of the game and did not return. The Sparks went on to beat the visiting Mystics 80-75. At this writing, the BasketCases have no information about the extent of Alana's injury, but in the BasketCases' opinion, not returning to the bench for the remainder of the game is generally not a good sign. First DeLisha . . . now, Alana? We certainly hope not. But if the Mystics must play without both of them, then yes --- most assuredly, the Curse O' Les Boulez has struck again.

* * * * * *
Early Sunday morning update: an article in today's LA Times (registration required) reports that Alana "sprained her right ankle" and "was taken for X-rays after the game and is considered day-to-day."

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Linda From Los Angeles. Mystics GM Linda Hargrove was once again kind enough to share some thoughts and insights with the BasketCases about the team and about tonight's game against the Sparks:

BC: Mystics fans are wondering what's the latest on our "walking wounded" (Tot and Dee.) Is there any information you can share?

LH: "DeLisha is making great progress, working hard and doing everything possible to get back ahead of schedule. She will be evaluated again at 3 weeks and see what the Doc thinks at that time. Tot should be good to go tonight."

BC:In the last couple of games (losses), it seemed like the team had fewer assisted baskets than in some of the previous contests. Is this an accurate observation, and if so, is this anything to be concerned about?

LH: "I would agree that we haven't passed the ball as effectively the past few games. Part of the reason is that Nikki T has looked for her shot a little more that she did previously and I don't think we have been in much of a transition game lately and I think our assists go up when we get out and run. The next 2 opponents, LA and Phoenix, both like to run so we will probably get out and run more."

BC: What are the keys to slowing down a tall high-powered team like the Sparks in their home arena?

LH: "Leslie is always where you start when trying to slow LA down. She is having a great season and will be a really tough match up for us but we will need to take it at her and try to get her in foul trouble. Mabika has been very inconsistent and she was just OK last night against Phoenix so I hope she doesn't have one of those great games tonight. "

BC: Of course our Latvian readers would like to know what you thought of Zane's WNBA debut?

LH: "I was thrilled for Zane. She played with composure and gave us very positive minutes. She will be a player that will work hard and continue to get stronger. I was just really happy that she was able to help us and I know she was so excited that Richie believed enough in her to put her in the game."

As always, the BasketCases are very grateful to Linda for being such a fan-oriented GM and for taking the time to answer these questions.

* * * * * *
Tonight's game in L.A. is at 10:30pm and is being shown on NBA-TV. If you are like the BasketCases and this game is well past your bedtime, we advise a nap.

Brenda Frese: the Book. Ever since the final buzzer sounded in Boston to seal the Natty, the BasketCases thought there was a terrific story to be told about the Terps' improbable year. We were hoping a good writer who is also very familiar with women's basketball, maybe Sally Jenkins (or the BasketCases), would get together with Brenda Frese, and do a book. The title was obvious: "Overtime is Our Time." Well, a book by that very name is soon to be released, by Chris King and Frese. The BasketCases don't know much about King (well, to be honest, we know nothing about King), so we have no idea whether King has sufficient b-ball knowledge (or writing ability) to make sure this is the type of book the story deserves. And the marketing hype makes it sound a little melodramatic if not hastily done, but who knows?? The BasketCases are hoping for a really good read!! And a movie to follow, of course!! (The BasketCases are available to play themselves.)