Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Sky IS Falling. Friday night the Mystics face off against the Chicago Sky at 7 PM at the Verizon Center. And, though the BasketCases don't usually engage in trash-talking, let's face it . . . one way or the other, tomorrow night The Sky IS Falling!

If, as we expect, the Mystics reverse direction from their early-season losing streak, the Chicago Sky will be doing the falling . . . to the home team, providing the Mystics with their first win of the season. However, if the unexpected happens and Chicago were to pull off the upset, then the sky would indeed be falling, but that phrase would take on a whole new meaning (if that were to happen, would the last fan leaving the Phone Booth please turn out the lights?). But we don't expect that to happen. And we do believe the Mystics are much more talented than their record suggests, and we look forward to seeing them notch the first of this year's many Ws tomorrow night.

Crystal Robinson. Crystal will be helping the Mystics get that first win tomorrow, but she will not be in uniform. GM Linda Hargrove announced earlier this evening that C-Rob, after a highly impressive pro career -- one that began in the ABL, took her to Madison Square Garden for 7 years with the Liberty, and then brought her here to DC last year -- has decided to hang up her sneakers and retire from the WNBA. However, the good news is that Crystal's veteran leadership and knowledge of the game will not be lost to her present team as she is moving to the sidelines as the newest member of the Mystics' coaching staff. The BasketCases congratulate C-Rob on her long and successful playing career and wish her the very best in her new career, coaching!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

0 and 4. Somewhere in between the more than 70 free throws shot tonight by the Mystics and the Shock (not to mention the additional attempts due to lane violations), there was a basketball game going on . . . and a very ugly one at that. The Mystics, playing on the road in Detroit, came up short against the defending WNBA Champions, 94-79. From a spectator's perspective, unless you are a Shock fan, there was nothing much fun about watching this game.

However, with all the rough play, fouls, turnovers, and several technicals, the most classless moment of the game came as time was expiring . . . that's when the Shock's Ivory Latta (formerly of UNC), with only a microsecond remaining in the game, and her team up by 12, instead of dribbling out the clock, launched -- and hit -- a three point shot. ACC fans have seen this before from Latta . . . some people never change.

Unfortunately, the Mystics set a new (and very much unwanted) franchise record tonight by starting the season with four straight losses. Hopefully, Friday's game (at the Phone Booth) against the Chicago Sky (including Chasity Melvin) will end the streak.

Welcome to . . .

Photo Credit:

Newest Mystic, Stacey Lovelace. Stacey, a free agent Forward/Center who played last season for the Chicago Sky, was signed yesterday to help address the Mystics' need for a back-up center.

Photo Credit: University of Maryland

Meanwhile, in College Park, the Terps announced that Rhet Wierzba, a 6'5" 20-something hunk with a cool first name former player and honor graduate of Austin Peay, who most recently spent two seasons as Director of Basketball Operations for the University of Evansville's men's team, is joining the Maryland women's basketball staff in the same position. Rhet will be filling the vacancy created by Mark Pearson's return home to Iowa.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Cupboard Refrigerator is Bare!

At the start of each WNBA season, the BasketCases look forward to a number of things. One of those is a winning season. Sometimes (OK, frequently) we've been disappointed about that one. But another thing we've looked forward to -- and never been disappointed with -- until now-- is receiving our official Mystics Refrigerator Magnet, which displays the entire season's schedule (home and away, the televised games -- all the information needed to be sure we don't miss so much as a minute of Mystics action!).

Now, whether the team wins is not entirely within the control of the front office. But the magnetic schedules? That's another story. And yet, to our great dismay, two home games have gone by, but no magnetic schedules. We got a nice white Rally Towel at the first game, and a diva-esque Pink tote bag at the second (for Breast Health Awareness night). But no schedules! And looking at the upcoming list of giveaways -- no magnetic schedules anywhere!!

Indeed, we were given little fold-out paper pocket schedules at the last home game, but how often do you look in your pocket? (The BasketCases consider themselves lucky if they even check their pockets before they put their clothes in the washing machine!) But the fridge -- now that's something all of us check pretty often. We've tried to come up with an alternative solution (tape on appliances? not a good idea; paper schedule attached by a magnetic chip-clip? not a particularly effective display), but when we exhausted all reasonable possibilities, we came to only one conclusion . . . We Miss Our Mystics Refrigerator Magnets!!!

Monday, May 28, 2007

Memorial Day 2007

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

John McCrae 1915

Graphic Credit: Steve Thoms

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Mo, Divas . . .

Mo. The BasketCases are happy -- but not surprised -- to see that the Mystics' newest addition, Monique ("Mo") Currie, has been getting some very positive press in the local media. Mo, who was born and bred in the D.C. area (starring at Bullis before starring at Duke), told the Washington Post's Marc Carig that returning to play for the Mystics is "like a dream come true." Indeed, as we can personally attest, Mo was a spectator at many Mystics games during her college summers.

More Divas. The Mystics' Divas, Nikki Blue and Tamara James, who got their big break as Divas right here on the BasketCases blog, have taken it to the next level with a great feature on The piece is quite entertaining, and well worth the read. In particular, the comments of Diva-In-Training DeLisha Milton-Jones are priceless. After reading this piece, the BasketCases will never again go anywhere without chapstick lip gloss!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Mo: Hey, Candace, it's done --I'm Going Home!

The Trade is Official!!! The Mystics have just announced that Chasity Melvin has been traded to the Chicago Sky for DC native Monique Currie -- a former Duke teammate of none other than Alana Beard! Wow!

Photo Credit: SportsPageMike

O and 3. The Mystics played an 11am game today against the New York Liberty at MSG, coming up short to a rebuilding team that finished below DC in last year's standings. The final score was 81-76.

Shay Doron made her WNBA regular season debut, briefly getting in the game for New York. [Memo to the Mystics' radio announcer: Shay's last name is NOT pronounced DOOR-in.]

Meanwhile, in what may be more hopeful news, Internet message boards are buzzing today with a major trade rumor that may involve the Mystics. We don't like to trade in rumors, but what the heck, we don't like basketball to be played at 11am either (and, apparently, neither do the Mystics). *IF* there's any more to report, we will.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Ladies in Red Black

Last evening started out pleasantly enough. WNBA President Donna Orender (wearing a flattering black business suit) did, indeed, make a guest appearance at GM Linda Hargrove's first (and well-attended) Chalk Talk of the season. Both Donna and Linda were engaging and eager to answer questions from the fans. [Note to one fan: Next time, make your point, but don't monopolize the short time available by relentlessly berating Linda (and Donna) with your opinions about Mystics' coaching decisions.] We learned from Donna that the league hopes to expand by at least 3 more teams in the next 5 years, and among the cities that could possibly be considered for a new franchise, there was one surprise: Atlantic City!

After the Chalk Talk, the BasketCases returned to the arena, and another Lady in Black couldn't possibly escape our attention. New Monarchs head coach (and former Mystics assistant) Jenny BoobsBoucek patrolled the sidelines wearing what could only be described as a (somewhat) low-cut, and (definitely) tight black cocktail dress! It wouldn't surprise us to learn that quite a few Mystics fans visited their doctors today complaining of whip-lash!

We wish we could say that Coach B's "look" was just the beginning of the excitement last night, but, unfortunately, it turned out to be the highlight. The Mystics pushed the ball up the court in the early going, getting open looks (especially for Laurie Koehn!), opened a double-digit lead on the tired-looking Monarchs (3 road games in 4 days) before going M-I-A! They began walking the ball up the court, struggling in their half-court sets, while allowing Sacramento second, third and even fourth shots on every possession. It's hard to win at any level when your opponent outrebounds you by 50-22, including giving up 25(!!!) offensive rebounds while grabbing only 5 (how embarrassing!) offensive boards yourself. Not to mention (but of course, we will), the Mystics committed 22 turnovers to SAC's 15, and set a new (and very much unwanted) WNBA record by only scoring 4 (!!!) points in the entire 4th quarter. Not much a fan can say about a game like that except that we're glad it's over and we hope we never have to experience another one like it.

Photo credits: DCBasketCases

Monday, May 21, 2007

Tuesday, May 22nd: To-Do List

6:00 AM Walk Dog

8:00 AM Work

12:00 Noon Lunch-break

12:30 PM Join online Chat on with DeLisha Milton-Jones!!!

5:45 PM Leave for Verizon Center

6:30 PM Chalk Talk for Mystics fans with GM Linda Hargrove (and WNBA Prez Donna Orender -- from what we've heard!) [Note to self: Coke Theatre on 400 Level, no extra admission (just game tix), this is a don't miss -- no working late!]

7:30 PM Monarchs @ Mystics!!! [Note to self: Forget the home-girl loyalties (Kara & Becky!), it's ALL MYSTICS tonite!!!! Remember to grab Breast Health Awareness pink tote bag give-away.]

People and Places

Megan Vogel. Although she did not make the Mystics' roster, Megan Vogel will be spending the summer in our nation's capital after all. The Mystics have hired Megan as an intern. But she won't be doing those things that most Washingtonians associate with interns (and we won't even mention Washington's most infamous intern, because this is a PG rated blog), she'll be practicing with the team and helping them scout the opposition. (We hope she'll still be blogging, too!)

Shay Doron. Meanwhile, up in the Big Apple, the Liberty (unlike the Mystics) won their season opener, handily beating the Chicago Sky on Sunday, 83-71. However, like Mystics rookie Gillian Goring, Shay Doron did not see any action in her team's first game, which was most unfortunate for her family and her former Maryland teammates in attendance. And this didn't go over too well with some of the Liberty faithful, either.

Harp and Lang. Wouldn't that make a great name for a British pub? Well, anyway, out in Colorado Springs, the roster for the USA Women's Basketball U21 2007 World Championship Team was trimmed yesterday from 45 to 14. The good news for Maryland fans is that Laura Harper and Crystal Langhorne are among those 14. (You may recall that when Lang played on the U19 team, the U.S. went undefeated and Lang was the MVP of the World Championships.) Two players will be cut from those 14 to make up the final roster of 12. Given the incredibly talented group (which also includes Courtney Paris and Essence Carson), USA Basketball Head Coach (and new Duke Coach) Joanne P. (bite me) McCallie said that deciding on those last cuts will be "extremely difficult." The BasketCases are keeping their fingers crossed!

Marissa Coleman. Also in Colorado Springs, and more good news for Maryland fans, Marissa Coleman survived the round of 45 players to become one of 14 finalists for the 12-member USA Women's Basketball 2007 Pan American Games Team. Others vying for a spot on the final roster include ACC foe Erlana Larkins. Not surprisingly, USA Head Coach (and baskeball legend) Dawn Staley said that making the final two cuts "will be a hard task." (Hmm, notice a theme here from the USA Basketball press people?) And yes, we are keeping our fingers crossed here too!!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Kicking Off The Tenth!!

The Mystics began their Tenth Anniversary Season at home yesterday the same way they began their very first home opener in 1998: with a giant WNBA ball and a block party in front of the Verizon Center (then the MCI Center). Back then, however, some 20,000 people showed up to fill the arena. Things were a bit different last night, with an announced attendance of 8,000. For those of us who have been around since the beginning, it's hard to believe so many years have gone by, and so much drama. But we approach every season the same way: it's a new season, who knows what good things will happen?

The team was introduced to the fans at the street festival.

The D.C. schools produce some very talented musicians. A number of them performed yesterday.

Young fan: I think it's going to be hard to shoot over Dydek.

Mystics' rookie Gillian Goring's sister and her family came out to support the newest Mystic and her team.

Fans who arrived early were treated to something most folks probably never get to see. A billionaire in a pink poodle skirt dancing on the court to the tune of Rock Around the Clock.

Getting flashed by Dr. J.

An uplifting moment.

Oh yes, there was a game, too. The Mystics took on a main Eastern Conference rival, the Connecticut Sun. Chasity Melvin definitely showed up to play last night, recording a double double (22 points, 11 boards), including a very impressive 10 of 11 from the free throw line. But with Alana Beard still out because of a strained shoulder, the Sun would prove to be too much for the Mystics, as Connecticut won, 89-80. The BasketCases' favorite moment of the game: seeing three-point phenom Laurie Koehn drive for the basket and score!

Dydek taking a breather during the first half.

DeLisha Milton-Jones, a consummate competitor with an incredible work ethic, always comes ready to play, and last night was no different. She scored 20 points, even hitting over Dydek, which is not easy to do!

Original Mystic Nikki McCray, here with Christie Winters-Scott, provided a bit of nostalgia for the original fans in the house (including the BasketCases!).

Sales and DMJ.

DeLisha's husband, RJ, with friend Margo Dydek after the game. Dydek and DMJ played together in Spain. RJ is a wonderful fan, and one of the nicest guys on the planet.

Next up for the Mystics: the Sacramento Monarchs on Tuesday night. Be there!

Photo Credits: DC BasketCases

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Opening Day . . . The Buzz.

The first story on the top of this morning's Washington Post Sports Section is an excellent article by Marc Carig about the "wizardry" of Coach Richie Audubato and his legendary and ever-growing playbook.
"Upon her first glance of it, first-round draft pick Bernice Mosby thought for a moment that she had signed up for the wrong sport. 'I thought I was on the football team,' Mosby said of the playbook, which measures about three inches thick. 'And I was going to be the quarterback'."
The Post also has pictures (note:pdf) with individual stats, strengths and the "big question" for each player on the Mystics roster, plus an additional article, this one written by Kathy Orton, about the three cuts needed to reduce the team to its final roster. GM Linda Hargrove told Orton, "The last [cuts] are always the hardest to do."

And, in today's Washington Times, DeLisha Milton-Jones tells sportswriter Jon Siegel she's looking for at least 20 wins this season.

"Eighteen wins, that's nice. I am not used to having 15, 18 wins in a [34]-game season. That is ridiculous. I think everyone should come in here with the mentality of, 'That's embarrassing.' And we need to do something about it."

Photo Credit: Stewart Small

Friday, May 18, 2007

Let the (real) Games Begin! Tomorrow at 6 PM, the Mystics open the regular season (their 10th anniversary season!) at home (Verizon Center) against last season's playoff opponent, the Connecticut Sun.

The Roster. Today, reports that the Mystics waived rookie (and popular WNBA blogger) Megan Vogel and original Mystic Rita Williams, as well as Teana Miller, acquired in the dispersal draft from the Charlotte Sting. So it looks like rookies Bernice Mosby (drafted in the 1st round) and Gillian Goring (drafted in the 3rd) will be the two new additions to the Mystics' roster.

Missing from last year's team are Latasha Byears, a free agent at the end of last season, who signed this year with the Houston Comets, and BasketCases favorite, Zane Taman (nee Teilane). The word out of Latvia is that Zane worked very hard on her game (gaining 15 lbs! . . . so now instead of having to run around in the shower to get wet, she only has to lean from side to side), but a problem with her visa prevented Zane from arriving in Washington in time for training camp. The Mystics will retain her rights, so she may be back next summer vying for a roster spot.

There's a chance the Mystics may open the season at less than full strength -- Alana Beard has a shoulder injury (her status is questionable), Nikki Blue has a partially-torn ACL (her status is probable), and several other players (including Nikki Teasley and Nakia Sanford) are a little banged up, but expected to play.

The Mystics will be holding their annual home opener block party before the game on F Street, so come early and help get the 10th (!!!) Anniversary Season off to a rocking start!!

See you tomorrow! Go Mystics!!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Bowling With The Mystics . . . Now, THAT Was Fun!!!!!

Gillian Goring and Laurie Koehn get into the action as the Mystics Foundation hosted a fundraiser tonight called Strike Childhood Obesity. The event was held at Lucky Strike, an upscale club and bowling alley next to the Verizon Center. Goring, who claimed never to have bowled before, threw a strike with her very first ball.

All of the Mystics attended (except Nakia, who had an excused absence because she took an elbow to the mouth during practice earlier in the day). The players were relaxed and having a good time. They mingled with the fans, and most of them even bowled! (For those who need a caption: Alana Beard, Crystal Robinson, Diva Nikki Blue, a young Mystics fan, Diva Tamara James, and Nikki Teasley.)

DeLisha: Coach, that's a fine looking bowling shirt!

Bernice Mosby, Teana Miller, and Gillian Goring pose with fans who lobbied hard to be included in tonight's blog!

First round draft pick Bernice Mosby, here showing excellent form, was an enthusiastic participant in the bowling phase of tonight's event.

Dr. J and Assistant Coach Marynell Meadors. Dr. J proved herself pretty adept on the lanes as well.

Koehn and Mosby.

Many thanks to Cynthia Dinkins, President of the Washington Mystics Foundation, who hosted tonight's event. Over the past decade, the BasketCases have been to many Mystics events, and this was one of the best we've ever attended. It was not only a great deal of fun, but it also helped a good cause. We understand that there are plans to make it an annual event. So if you weren't there tonight, don't miss it next year!!

Photo Credits: DC BasketCases
* * * * * * * * * *
Excused Absence. One member of the Mystics' family was conspicuously absent tonight: GM Linda Hargrove. But Linda had a very good excuse. She was in Normal, Illinois, where her husband, Ed, the softball coach at Cowley College, Kansas, was being inducted into the National Junior College Athletic Association Hall of Fame. Linda herself was once a coach at Cowley, and is also a member of the NJCAA Hall of Fame. (Hmm . . . the BasketCases wonder whether Linda and Ed are the only married couple to share this distinction.) This is of course a huge honor for Ed, and the BasketCases congratulate Ed and his incredibly sports-talented family!

We're Number 1! The BasketCases blog is now officially one year old. May 11, 2006 was our actual launch-date . . . however, we were enroute to Texas on May 11th of this year, so we were forced to decline the offer of a HUGE party to be thrown by our loyal blog readers (apparently some were planning to fly in from Latvia!) in honor of the auspicious occasion. But we're content with a simple belated Happy Birthday to us!

And while not a birthday party, we will be enjoying a very special event this evening -- one for a very good cause -- the Mystics' Foundation's Strike Childhood Obesity fundraiser. The BasketCases will be attending the reception and then Bowling with the Mystics. Hmmm, kinda makes us want to break into song -- "Bowling with the Mystics, makes you want to smile, bowling with the Mystics, mile after mile . . ."

WARNING: while the BasketCases are enthusiastic bowlers, bowling is not our number one sport. For reasons of personal safety, you may want to keep some distance whenever one of us has a bowling ball in her hands!

Of course, we'll give a full report on Bowling with the Mystics after the event. . .

Sunday, May 13, 2007

We Regret To Inform You . . . that the BasketCases will not be able to provide an eyewitness report about today's exhibition game between the Mystics and Anda Ramat Hasharon. Unfortunately, the game conflicts with our niece's Bat Mitzvah. So while we are doing something Jewish, it does not involve an Israeli basketball team.

However, if anyone who is fortunate enough to see today's history-making game would like to share some observations or game reports or whatever, feel free to post some comments. Or not. Whatever. We're easy.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

"Welcome to Israel!"

That was the greeting given to guests arriving at the Israeli Embassy in Washington this evening for a reception honoring the Mystics and Anda Ramat Hasharon ("ARH"), the Israeli professional team the Mystics will be playing this Sunday. This will be the first time that a WNBA team has played a foreign team, and the visitors were extremely excited to be here for this history-making event.

A little bit of Israel in Washington. (And a good bit of security to get in.) Blue skies and Middle Eastern weather greeted the attendees.

Rachel Ostrowitz, Chairperson of ARH, delivered a warm and interesting speech about the importance of women's sports and how events like these are truly creating a global village.

Chasity Melvin (a former player on ARH), still a bit jet-lagged after arriving from Russia on Monday, poses with Israeli friends.

The BasketCases caught Megan Vogel moments before GM Linda Hargrove persuaded her to try hummus for the very first time in her life. After trying it, Megan made it clear it might also be the last. But she did like the pita bread.

The Mystics' self-appointed DIVAS, Nikki Blue and Tamara James, in a photo they insisted we take! According to Nikki, you can never have too many photos of yourself. And according to an inside source, the DIVAS have been working feverishly throughout training camp trying to turn some of the vets into divas as well.

Original Mystic Rita Williams and rookies Gillian Goring and Bernice Mosby.

The Deputy Mayor of Ramat Hasharon discussing world affairs basketball with the Mayor of the Mystics, Richie Adubato, and ARH Marketing Manager Bruria Bigman.

The coaches of both teams posed for photos.

Alana Beard -- as always -- was in demand for fan photos.

The Mystics and Anda Ramat Hasharon.

Photo Credits: DC BasketCases

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Mystics/Liberty Midday Scrimmage

Coincidentally, the BasketCases (and several dozen other fans) had dental emergencies around 11am today and thus simply had to leave our offices . . . So while we were out, we also headed over to Trinity University, where, lo and behold, the Mystics were scrimmaging against the Liberty. This was our first look at the 2007 Mystics and Mystics-hopefuls, and of course our first look at Shay Doron in a WNBA game (even if it didn't really count).

New York Head Coach Patty Coyle, Mystics President Sheila Johnson, and Maryland Head Coach Brenda Frese. The Terps' coaching staff was out in force to see Shay, including newcomers Daron Park and Diane Richardson.

Ready to rumble.

You needed a roster to tell who all the newcomers were, but some of them weren't even listed there! We do know that's second round pick and famous WNBA blogger Megan Vogel seated on the far right.

Coco Miller comes back fit and ready to play, season after season.

Shay and her new teammates. Shay did get in the game and hit a few baskets. Each time she hit one, a contingent of Mystics fans, including (of course) the BasketCases, gave her the traditional Maryland shout out: "Shay ! Shay ! Shay!" The first time this happened, Coach Frese looked over and broke out into a big smile. After the game, Alana Beard gave us grief over this: "I heard you cheering for Shay. You can't be cheering for an opponent!" (She was smiling when she said it.)

The Mystics' Brain Trust: GM Linda Hargrove and President Sheila Johnson. As usual, the Mystics' front office and coaching staff were exceptionally accessible . . . mingling with fans, and giving us candid insights into the difficult decisions they must make in the next few days as they have to trim the roster.

Our Big Rookie and Their Big Rookie. (L) Jessica Davenport. (R) Gillian Goring.

The Mystics huddled on center court after the scrimmage, while their fans (led by Dr. Johnson) engaged in loud enthusiatic "Let's Go Mystics" cheering from the sidelines.

After the scrimmage, the refs held an officiating tutorial for the Mystics, reminding the players that anyone who makes reference on court to a certain intimate relationship between an official and his mother will be teed up, and most likely ejected. Palming the ball was also discussed.

The Mystics signed autographs after the scrimmage. Alana Beard is still injured and can't play, but she can sign!

Coco Miller, Laurie Koehn, and Tamara James waiting to sign autographs.

Utah reunion. New Maryland Assistant Coach (and former Utah Assistant) Daron Park, and New York's Erin F. Thorn (formerly of BYU). The BasketCases' first impression of Coach Park . . . a really nice guy.

Another newcomer . . . just-hired Maryland Assistant Coach Diane Richardson (formerly of Riverdale Baptist and American University). Another great person -- and we're not saying that just because she happens to be a long-time Mystics season ticketholder!

Present and future WNBA-ers.
Photo Credits: DC BasketCases