Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Trick or Treat!

The Officially Unofficial Pre-game Photo of the Terps and USA National Team

In recognition of Halloween, Lisa Leslie and other members of the National Team took time before the tip-off to pass out candy to fans

In keeping with Halloween tradition, many fans -- young and old (see below) -- turned up in costume.

Will the real pregnant Coach B please raise her hand?

Charlie Brown also made an appearance.

Freshman Marah Strickland got her first start . . . an impressive one . . .and Jade Perry filled in for injured All-American Crystal Langhorne

Freshman Drey Mingo (here shooting a FT) may have been a 7-year-old when Lisa Leslie won her first Olympic Gold, but tonight she played like a veteran! Maryland's third rookie, Kat Lyons, also played well, launching -- and hitting -- a couple from downtown!

The present (Sue Bird) and the future (Kristi Toliver)

Mike Thibault: "Hey Drey, how 'bout you skip college and sign with the Connecticut Sun?"

After the game, fans were invited to an autograph session with a few players from each team (Crystal Langhorne and Drey Mingo pictured here) as well as Mystics' WNBA All-Star Alana Beard, who, like Crystal, is counting the days until she can get back on the court.

As for the game . . . The National Team won, which was of course expected (they are the best team in the world, aren't they?). But the (Langhorne-less) Terps made a terrific showing and can only feel good about their effort. Indeed, the National Team was only up by 2 at halftime. Laura Harper in fact led all scorers (yes, all scorers) with 20, and was a force on both ends of the floor. With two WNBA head coaches, one WNBA GM and at least one WNBA scout in attendance, Laura certainly made an impression that should pay dividends come draft-time next April. Marissa Coleman was everywhere, and had a monster block against WNBA All-Star Seimone Augustus. And Kristi Toliver not only showed off her three-point shooting skills (she hit four from behind the arc), she also showed tremendous presence and leadership at the point, prompting Diana Taurasi to say:

"At the end of the game, I turned to Sue Bird and I told her that's the best point guard in college right now. I don't think anyone can control a game like she can with her scoring and her ability to push the ball up the floor, and get people open. She's a very tough player, she really is."

The rest of the Terps also played extremely well. Jade Perry, although giving up about a foot to USA center Katie Feenstra, hung tough on defense. And the freshmen? The BasketCases just can't say enough good things about them. What an auspicious beginning for the college careers of Drey, Marah, and Kat!

And what a truly wonderful and fun start to the season.

Photo Credits: DC BasketCases

Happy Halloween! Looking for a fun way to celebrate this special day? Look no further!

What: Terps vs USA National Team

When: Tonight at 7:00 PM (Trick or Treating starts at 5:30 PM!)

Where: Comcast Center (Haunted for one night only!)

Why: Why Not???!!!! Watch the Terps, see some Olympians, enjoy some great basketball, and have some fun!

The BasketCases will be there . . . in our Halloween finest. Hope to see you there, too!

Monday, October 29, 2007

"It Will Be The Best Team We Play All Year."

That's how Coach Frese described the USA National Team at her Maryland Media Day press conference this afternoon, and you won't be hearing any disagreement from the BasketCases. Not when the National Team includes the likes of three-time Olympian and superstar Lisa Leslie, and other WNBA stars Diana Taurasi, Seimone Augustus and Sue Bird. Players that some of the Terps no doubt grew up watching if not idolizing. If you are as excited as we are about the matchup Wednesday evening, imagine how the Terps are feeling! Team USA isn't just the best team that Maryland will be playing all year, it's also the first team they'll be facing. And for freshmen Drey Mingo, Marah Strickland and Kat Lyons, it will not only be their first game of the year, but the first game of their college careers. (Relax kids . . . it only gets easier from here!)

Coincidentially, Drey Mingo and Lisa Leslie both spent time in Atlanta in the summer of 1996. Lisa was playing basketball in the Georgia Dome in front of 40,000+ fans, winning an Olympic Gold for the United States, while 7-year-old Drey was, we guess, riding her bike (way too young to drive!) and, no doubt, following every moment of our National Team's spectacular performance. Which makes us wonder whether Drey (or Marah or Kat) back then could possibly have dreamed that in her very first college game she'd be stepping onto the court to face Lisa Leslie. They may not have dreamed it, but we doubt they'll ever forget it!

Wednesday's game not only marks the start of Team USA's 8-game college tour, it will also be Lisa Leslie's much-awaited return to competitive basketball afer sitting out this summer's WNBA season following the birth of her daughter, Lauren, in June. (Perhaps Lisa has some tips for Coach B on the challenging task of juggling basketball and parenthood.) The BasketCases are also looking forward to seeing USA Team member Kara Lawson, who got her start playing ball right here in northern Virginia; seeing standout Kara play in high school was great fun, and let's not forget that the 2000 USA National Team lost only one game on their way to the Gold . . . And the winning shot in that game? Scored by college freshman Kara Lawson!

Good Luck to the Terps . . . We hope you have as much fun playing this game as we expect to have watching it!

Photo Credit:

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Coach D on D

One of the perks of being Rebounders is that we get an invitation every year to a coaches chalk (and film) talk, where one or more members of the Maryland coaching staff share some insight into what we'll be seeing from the team this season.

This evening, new Assistant Coach Daron Park, despite already having put in a long "day at the office" on what is traditionally a day of rest (but obviously not so for the Terps staff!), endeared himself to the Terps faithful with an enthusiastic, informative and humorous presentation. The subject of his "clinic" was . . . De-fense! More specifically, the fact that this will be a significant point of emphasis for the team this season.

During the nearly two-hour session, the BasketCases very much enjoyed learning all about this season's defensive strategy. Using white board, video and live demonstrations (some with chairs, some with people), Coach D gave us an excellent defensive primer (heck, if the team is hit with any more injuries, the Rebounders are now ready to suit up and step right in!). Of course, we can't share what we learned today (even with our loyal readers), because if we told you, we'd have to kill you (just kidding). However, we don't think we're giving a lot away to say that EFFORT will play a major role.

For fans of a team whose defense hasn't, shall we say, always lived up to its offense, Coach D made believers out of us. We can't wait now to see all this theory put into action. It all starts on Wednesday against the USA National Team. Only 3 more days!!!

Photo Credit: DC BasketCases

Monday Morning Update: Today might be a good day to eat lunch at your desk . . . that way you could watch the Terps' Media Day Press Conference LIVE webcast at 1:30 PM. You can find the link to the webcast on the Terps' homepage. [Note: Access is free, but you need to register first, in case you haven't already done so.]

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Mystics introduced a new feature this week on their website -- Pass the Ball: Mystics Front Office Blog. Each day a different member of the Mystics' management team blogs about what he or she is thinking or doing. Mondays belong to GM Linda Hargrove, Tuesdays to Coach Tree Rollins, Wednesdays to Mystics President Sheila Johnson, Thursdays to new Chief Operating Officer Greg Bibb, and each Friday a different member of the Mystics staff gets a chance to blog.

The BasketCases have enjoyed reading these daily blogs . . . all in all, they're pretty good . . . for newbies! For example, today, new COO Greg Bibb blogs about his new baby, his new mantra, the lottery. Good stuff! (But for some reason, he never mentions his sisters, Coco and Kelly . . . maybe next week.) However, rookies sometimes do make mistakes, and how are they going to improve if you don't point them out? Here's an excerpt from Greg's blog:

Links I Like

You can tell a lot about someone by the Internet sites he
or she enjoys. Here are a few of mine: (Surprised?)

Now, loyal readers, obviously the BasketCases are not the only ones who noticed a certain glaring omission from Greg's list of links!

Speaking of Missing Links . . . we also learned from Greg's blog that the Mystics will be linking up with the Terps on Halloween when Team USA kicks off its 8-game college tour. The Mystics will have a marketing table on the concourse at Comcast, and, according to Greg, "If you are one of the first 75 people to say hello, we’ll give you a ticket for a post-game player autograph session." Well, not that you really needed another reason to attend the game . . . but good news all the same! And don't forget to wear your Halloween costume! We're ready!

The Mystics Front Office will be blogging every day, so make sure you check in frequently -- add the link to your favorites -- how else will you know if they learn anything from their rookie mistakes? LOL.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Not Enough Balls. It still being an odd-numbered year, good karma deserted the Mystics once again. This afternoon the WNBA held its annual draft lottery, and the Mystics came out where they went in: at the bottom of the list.

The five teams that finished out of the playoffs this past season, including the Mystics, were in the lottery. Those with the worst records had the most chances of securing the top three picks. Since the Mystics finished ahead of the other four non-playoff teams (making them the best of the worst), they had the fewest chances to secure one of those picks. Once the order of the top three picks was determined, the remaining two teams would draft in reverse order according to where they finished last season.

One complicating factor, and an unfortunate one for the Mystics and their fans, was the league's recent addition of a team in Atlanta to start play in 2008. As part of the sweetheart expansion deal with Atlanta, the league gave Atlanta the fourth pick in the college draft, which means that heading into the lottery, the Mystics could only come out with the 1st, 2d, 3d or 6th pick.

As luck (and statistical probabilities) would have it, the Mystics did not win one of the top three picks, and so they will have the 6th overall pick in the college draft. That will get them a good player, but it will not get them Candace Parker (if she decides to give up her last year of college eligibility and join the pros next summer) or 6'6" Sylvia Fowles ("Big Syl"). One of those players will most likely end up playing for the L.A. Sparks, who dropped to the bottom of the league this past season due to Lisa Leslie's pregnancy, Chamique's unscheduled retirement, and a host of injuries. The Chicago Sky got lucky with the 2nd pick, followed by Minnesota and then Houston.

Of course, finishing with #6 doesn't preclude the possibility that one of the Terrapins, Crystal Langhorne or Laura Harper, might still be available, and could be wearing Mystics blue in 2008. One can only hope!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

How Do You Get To Carnegie Hall St. Pete Times Forum? Practice, Practice, Practice!

Sunday was a beautiful Indian Summer day in our nation's capital -- clear blue skies, 80 degrees -- so where did the BasketCases spend the afternoon? Inside Comcast Center, of course, watching the Terps . . . practice. All of Coach Frese's practices are open to the public, but every October, she invites the Rebounders (booster club) to attend a specific practice. Today was that day, and after Coach B had put the team through its paces for three hours, she introduced the team and her staff to their best fans. From the BasketCases' perspective, the Terps looked incredibly focused and sharp for this early in the season. It's no secret that they are not happy with how last season ended, and are determined to have a very different ending this year. And that takes practice.

All together now.

Part of the practice consisted of an intra-squad scrimmage. That's rookie Drey Mingo on the left guarding Jade.

Coach B (shown here with her brain trust . . . including the most senior member of her staff, Erica Floyd, with newbies Diane Richardson and Daron Park) unveiled a new piece of furniture at the end of the bench, designed to allow her to coach and be pregnant all at the same time. Whether the NCAA will allow this during games remains to be seen.

Anything you can do, I can do better, I can do anything better than you.

Coach B asking the officials how far she can wheel her new chair around the coaches' box under the new NCAA rules without being Tee'd up.

Billy (Fennelly), I am making you Head Coach of the Scout Team today. Now, make your Dad proud!

Most of the practice consisted of an officiated scrimmage against the Scout Team. The Scout guys were definitely bigger this year. (Preparing for Courtney & Ashley Paris? Could be.)

Freshman Marah Strickland, one of the three newcomers who is not injured . . . but hardly a newcomer to the Terps' family -- her sister Marche previously played for Maryland.

Freshman Kat Lyons, another newcomer who is healthy . . . and who has an unselfish attitude and a sweet outside shot.

Drey Mingo, the third of the healthy freshmen . . . and definitely a force to be reckoned with!

Is this really our last year? (Please, say it ain't so!)

Sometime during the summer, one of the Rebounders started counting down the days until the Terps' first game. The numbers were in triple digits, and it seemed as though that day would never come. But here we are now, in single digits finally -- and are we ever looking forward to Halloween night!

Photo Credits: DC BasketCases

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Great Billboard Battle

In case your dog chewed last week's copy of the Muncie, Indiana Star Press, that's Brenda Frese's protégé, Tracy Roller, head coach of Ball State University, 25 feet in the air on a scissor lift (giving the term High Roller a whole new meaning), next to a billboard bearing her likeness. Tracy, who succeeded Coach B as head coach of the Cardinals (after serving as Brenda's assistant) was pulling out all the stops to sell season tickets, pledging to spend 12 hours a day aloft until 1,000 tickets were sold! Unfortunately, Tom Collins, Ball State's AD (not the mixed drink), insisted that she return to solid ground after only two days -- apparently afraid for her health. [Of course, he also admitted there was the matter of her grabbing some attention away from last weekend's homecoming football game.] Despite her shortened attempt, Coach T managed to sell 756 season tickets, a big increase over last season . . . even though ticket prices had jumped 200%! Well done, Coach T! You learned from the best.

Now, until this moment, the word "noncompetitive" has never before been used in the same sentence with the name Brenda Frese. So when Coach B and the rest of the Frese family were sitting around the table at the Frese homestead in Iowa recently (no doubt enjoying a tasty platter of loose meat), it had to rile Coach B (at least a little) when her sister, Marsha Frese (who happens to be Tracy Roller's assistant coach at Ball State), was bragging about her boss's original idea for promoting the Cardinals' program. Which explains why Coach B decided (right there at the dinner table) that she would not be upstaged by her former pupil and proceeded to make a rather astounding declaration.

(Prepare yourself for a BasketCases' exclusive!) Noting that the ACC tournament runs from March 6th through 9th, and noting (as the entire family already knew), that her due date is March 11th, and, reminding everyone that most twins tend to arrive early, Coach B announced that if her two newest little Twerps Terps decide to make their entrance during the ACC tournament, she intends to give birth on a scissor lift adjacent to the Terps' billboard at the entrance to the Greensboro Coliseum! OMG!

Believe us, this has not been reported anywhere else! And if you're wondering just how the BasketCases learned this . . . let's just say the meat isn't the only thing loose at the Frese homestead. Just remember . . . when this amazing news becomes public . . . you heard it first from the BasketCases.

Photo Credits: (Top)SportsPageMike, (Middle) The Star Press, (Bottom) DC BasketCases

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Maddening! That's how the BasketCases feel about having to work for a living, as that kept us away from last night's Maryland Madness. (Sadly, we don't get to spend all of our time watching basketball!) So we apologize to our loyal readers for being unable to give you an eyewitness account of what no doubt was a fun fun time at Comcast . . . and the official public debut of the 2007-08 Terps. But thanks to Heather Dinich of the Baltimore Sun, we learned that
The women's team came out in their little black dresses and shook their tambourines and more. Both teams flaunted their hip-hop moves and had the crowd rocking as practices officially began in a nearly packed gym, with each team scrimmaging for about 10 minutes.
And as always, there is a wonderful photo gallery on the Terps' website, which you can access from this page. Pay close attention and you'll be able to catch a peek at the Terps' two newest "fans."

The BasketCases will get to see the team in person for the first time next weekend, as Coach B holds an open practice for the booster club, the Rebounders. And if you haven't joined the Rebounders yet, what are you waiting for?

Photo Credit: Greg Fiume, cstv photo gallery

Friday, October 12, 2007

A Guy With a Big Heart. One of our favorite Wizards, 6'10" Center, poet and panda fan Etan Thomas, had surgery yesterday to repair a leak in his aortic valve. The problem was discovered -- thankfully -- during pre-season cardiac testing that the NBA requires of its players.

We send all good thoughts to Etan for a speedy recovery and hope to see him back in uniform soon . . . as well as back again at a Mystics game next summer!

Photo Credit: DC BasketCases

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Simply Stunning. The BasketCases were very fortunate to be in the audience tonight at what was (as far as we know) Sheryl Swoopes's first public appearance following her back surgery ten days ago. Sheryl was here in D.C. to be honored by the Human Rights Campaign at HRC's annual national dinner. Sheryl was elegant, gracious and stunning in a gold, form fitting, sleeveless, backless gown with a plunging neckline. Even the gay men in the audience gave her two thumbs up!

Sheryl a Mystic? Sheryl was introduced by none other than our favorite WNBA owner, Sheila Johnson (who looked pretty fabulous herself!). Sheryl began her speech by saying that while her agent, who was in the audience, had told her not to mention this, she wanted Sheila to know that while she loves Texas, "I am a free agent." This elicited a standing ovation from the Mystics fans in the audience.

It was wonderful to see Sheryl looking so well so soon after her surgery. We wish her a full recovery and a return to the court!

[The BasketCases apologize to our loyal readers for not having a photo of Sheryl from tonight's event. But this was a black tie affair, and our camera bag just did not go with our formal wear; with all those gay men in attendance, we simply could not commit such a fashion faux pas!]

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Surprise! (Not!) The BasketCases are not sure whether Tree Rollins was supposed to more or less preempt an official announcement, but according to this morning's Washington Post, Tree says we can expect to hear from the Mystics today that he will be back next season as the team's Head Coach, the "interim" now gone from his title.

It's hardly been a secret that this is where the team was headed. Tree tells the Post that he may "shake up the team's coaching staff," and also that "turning the team into more than just a playoff contender ranks among his highest priorities." Frankly, Tree, as fans we like the sound of that priority!

Good luck to Tree as the Mystics' ninth new Head Coach!

Late Tuesday Afternoon Update: It's official!