Saturday, May 31, 2008

Oh Well. At the end of the first half of this afternoon's Mystics-LA game, it certainly looked like that old fashioned whupping we'd been worried the Mystics were going to get was about to come true. Scoring only 20 points in the first half, shooting barely 25%, only 3 assisted baskets, being outrebounded 18-13, hitting only 2 of 6 FTs . . . etc, etc, etc. Not encouraging.

Thankfully, however, the game didn't end after 20 minutes. To the Mystics' credit, after falling behind by 16 in the 3rd quarter, they fought back to actually take a 1 point lead with a little more than 6 minutes left in the game. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough, as the Sparks regrouped, re-took the lead less than a minute later, and pulled away to win, 70-59.

We couldn't in all honesty call this a "good" loss, but at least the Mystics showed their 11,500 fans in the Phone Booth (and the national TV audience) that they didn't give up and made LA work for their victory. We're guessing that you were either in the arena along with us or you watched the ABC broadcast, so there's not much more we need to say. So that brings us to . . .

The Charm Factor. Let's see now . . . free Mystics "Believe" T-shirts to the first 5,000 fans. (Fans always like free T-shirts!) A lovely rendition of the National Anthem on violins and violas by the DC Youth Orchestra, who played with (to quote the BasketCases' on-staff musical consultant) "perfect bowing." A half-time performance by the very spirited Kangaroo Kids Howard County Precision Jump Rope Team, and then (back by popular demand) the Ballou High School Marching Band. Definitely an above-average in-arena experience!

So we're awarding Four Bunnies!

For Maryland Fans . . . Check here for a feature in the Philadelphia Inquirer about Crystal Langhorne and the challenges in adjusting to pro basketball.

Saturday Morning Update . . . The Washington Post succumbs to Parker mania.

For Maryland Fans . . . a "brash rookie" helped lead her team (the Sacramento Monarchs) to a victory last night over the Houston Comets. More here.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

We Are So Dead.

Tonight the seemingly invincible Los Angeles Sparks lost a double-OT game to the Tamika Catchings-less Indiana Fever . . . the Sparks being held to only 78 points in 50 minutes!

Something tells us that Lisa Leslie, Candace Parker, DeLisha Milton-Jones & Co. will be looking to exact some revenge at the expense of the next team they face. We wouldn't want to be that team!

Let's check the schedule . . . next up, LA Sparks @ Washington Mystics, Saturday, 3:30 PM, nationally televised on ABC. Uhh Ohh.

Nothing would make the BasketCases happier than to be completely WRONG! Hey, isn't that why they play the games?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Are Made of This. The players and their fans can rest easy tonight, as the Mystics defeated the Atlanta Dream (in the first ever meeting of these two teams), 80-74. After an 0-2 start to the season, the Mystics have now evened their record at 2-2 and put to sleep any thoughts of last season's nightmareish 0-8 opening.

At the end of the first half tonight, though, we couldn't be quite sure how this one would end. The Mystics came out strong, then gave up the lead before the end of the first quarter, struggled in the second period, and went into the locker room down 7. But they regrouped during the break, surged ahead by the end of the third quarter and (despite a late charge by Atlanta) never relinquished the lead. Not the dominating performance against an 0-3 expansion team that we'd hoped for, but a win nevertheless.

In stark contrast to Sunday's game, the Mystics' starters provided the bulk of point-production, with four starters finishing in double figures. The Dream's Annie Betty Lennox led all scorers with 29 points, and hit 6 of 7 from outside the arc! But 25 points (and 5 assists) from Alana, 19 points (and 9 boards) from Taj, 14 points from Mo-C and 11 points (and 8 rbs) from Nakia countered Lennox's performance . . . and then some. Though the Mystics' fifth starter, Amber Jacobs, didn't get on the scoreboard, the BasketCases thought she gave the team some good minutes (18 to be exact), dishing out 3 assists vs only 1 turnover, as she replaced the injured Nikki Blue as the starting PG.

Fortunately, the Mystics now have a few days for practice and preparation before hosting league-leading Los Angeles (Candace Parker and Lisa Leslie Los Angeles? Yep, that's the one!) on Saturday in a nationally-televised game (on ABC) tipping off at 3:30 PM. And now . . .

The Charm Factor. A Tuesday after a holiday weekend is not a night we expected the front office to pull out all stops or to treat the fans to A-list entertainment. And we got about what we expected. A good (but not great) National Anthem by Anami Jordan, no pyro or lasers, the usual time-out activities, a half-time slam-dunking demo by the world's ugliest bunny (aka "Lucky") . . . in other words, predictable, distracting, but no "Wow." Normally, we would rate the in-arena experience of a game like tonight's a 2 Bunny evening, but -- just as we assess automatic deductions, to be fair, we also sometimes make automatic additions! Tonight is one of those nights, thanks to GM Linda Hargrove, whose "Chalk Talk" prior to the game provided interested season ticketholders with her usual frank and informative insights into the team and the opponent. We've decided that Linda's "Talk" deserves an extra bunny! So tonight's score is:

Three Bunnies!

Monday, May 26, 2008


Today is the day when we take time to remember the courageous men and women who have fought and died for the freedoms we all enjoy. We thank all of them. Of course, we can't help but be reminded that, even now, so many servicemen and servicewomen are in harm's way . . . everyday. Most of us have family, friends or neighbors who are serving overseas. Take Mama Taj's advice and let them know we care about them.

Photo Credit: Stewart Small

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Home Opener. The Mystics held their annual block party outside the Verizon Center just before the start of today's game against the Houston Comets. The weather was sunny, mid-70s . . . absolutely perfect!

Owner Sheila Johnson was on hand to introduce the team.

Fans were invited to make their own posters. This young man was hard at work . . . and his poster is looking good!

The ubiquitous oversized WNBA ball that makes an appearance each season.

How many people do you know who can say they graduated from college on the court in a pregame ceremony? Well, Mystics rookie Krystal Vaughn did exactly that today! Krystal is the first member of her family to graduate from college. The Mystics' schedule prevented her from attending her graduation ceremony at Virginia Commonwealth University, so VCU sent a little of her commencement to the Phone Booth. VCU Head Coach (and former Mystic!) Beth Cunningham presented Krystal with her diploma prior to the game. Another Mystics rookie -- Crystal Langhorne -- also graduated this week, but she managed to make it to her graduation ceremony Friday morning at Maryland. Dr. J and Mystics COO Greg Bibb presented both new graduates with flowers today to help celebrate this important milestone. Both Krystal and Crystal then went on to give the team excellent minutes off the bench . . .

As for the game, today's matchup was between two winless teams, each hungry for a victory. Happily for the Mystics and their fans, the Comets were sent back to Houston still winless, as the Mystics recorded their first win of the season, 69-66. While the result was better for the Mystics than it was in the first two games, Houston is not one of the league's better teams, yet the Mystics still struggled to eke out the win. The Mystics' offense continued to sputter. If the team is going to be successful this season, the Mystics (in our opinion) need more consistent offense from their starters. Today, at halftime, the Mystics' reserves had outcored the starters, 18-12. By the end of the game, the starters had contributed only one point more than the bench had, 35-34, despite the fact that the starters were on the floor for 137 minutes to the reserves' 63.

Alana Beard led the Mystics with 16 points (the only starter in double figures). Off the bench, Laurie Koehn finished with 12, hitting 4 of her 6 three-point attempts, while Coco Miller put up 10 points, including 3 critical buckets late in the 4th quater. Another bench player who made the most of her minutes today was new Terp graduate Crystal Langhorne. Lang played played 10 minutes and was a perfect 4 of 4 from the floor (including a couple of scores while being defended by the Comets' perennial All-Star Tina Thompson). While it wasn't the prettiest, it was still a win, and now the Mystics have a chance to even their record when the WNBA's newest team, the Atlanta Dream, makes its first ever appearance at the Phone Booth on Tuesday at 7 PM. Which brings us to . . .

The Charm Factor.

The BasketCases give a major shout-out to the Mystics' front office, who clearly went all out for the home opener. Magnetic schedules, light-up bangers (helping to create a great visual during introductions), lasers, a few pyrotechnics, Andre Pitre singing the National Anthem (great voice, on-key), the Ballou High School Marching Band, plus a good deal of hoopla and energy during the time outs! We thought, "Wow, we're definitely headed for a Five Bunny Night!" But alas . . . it was not to be. Just when the in-arena experience was moving along so swimmingly, we spotted this (and thought "OMG!") . . .

Meet "Lucky," the new sidekick to the Mystics' mascot, Pax. What is he? Well, we think he's supposed to be a Blue Rabbit. (Poor Charm must be rolling over in his grave . . . or in his stewpot as the case may be.) Isn't Lucky simply the ugliest looking thing you've ever seen? We're sorry, but we just had to take an automatic half-bunny deduction! Then (standing at 4-1/2 bunnies), halftime came and . . .

The entertainment was provided by simply the best worst Tina Turner impersonator ever, a performer named Cookie Watkins. She could hardly carry a tune. For the most part, we and many others in the audience simply stared at her in disbelief. In a way, she was so bad, it was almost entertaining -- in that Gong Show sort of way. Anyway, we had to assess another half-bunny deduction. So today's Charm Factor:

Four Bunnies! Not perfect, but still a very good start to the season!

Photo Credits: DC BasketCases

Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Charm Factor

As every fan knows, there's so much more to the game-day experience than just the game itself. (Although there's no denying that is the most important thing!) There are many other things going on in the arena (besides the game) that influence how much fun (or not) we actually have. There's the MEGATRON; there's the National Anthem (sometimes wonderful, sometimes off-key); there's the mascot and the dance teams; of course, there's the halftime entertainment; plus all of the things that take place during the time-outs. Each of these, done well or badly, influences our overall game-day experience. And while how our team plays on a particular day is not scripted by the front office, everything else certainly is.

And so this season, the BasketCases are proud to announce a brand new feature on our blog: The Charm Factor, our extremely high-tech, scientific measurement of just how much fun we had at the game (excluding the team's on-court performance . . . that we'll continue to cover in our actual post-game reports). And just to give our loyal readers a sense of how we'll be judging the in-arena experience, here's how it works:

Let's say that a big star, Gladys Knight for example, showed up at the Mystics' home opener tomorrow to sing the National Anthem, or to perform "Midnight Train to Georgia" at halftime, that would be an Automatic 5 Bunnies:

On the other hand, if the halftime "entertainment" consisted of Dr. J presenting an award to the President of the National Association for the Prevention of Toenail Fungus, that would probably earn only a Half-Bunny:

Toenail fungus prevention is, no doubt, a worthy cause. And it takes a very special person to head up such an organization, so for that alone, we'd award one-half of a Charm. But we confess that toenail fungus is just not one of life's challenges we want to be reminded of when we're at a basketball game. Sorry, but we are that shallow.

Anyway, we hope these examples give you a little of the flavor of our high-tech, scientific rating system. So, after every home game, count the Bunnies to learn the results of The Charm Factor!

Photo Credits: DC BasketCases

* * * * * * * *

Home Opener . . . After starting the season with two losses on the road, the Mystics will make their first appearance at the Verizon Center tomorrow at 4 PM as they face the Houston Comets. Before the game, the team will hold its traditional block party outside the arena, where Dr. J and the players will be on hand to greet the crowd.

It seems the fans aren't the only ones who are disappointed in how the Mystics have played so far. According to the Washington Post's Katie Carrera, "Mama Taj" has read her teammates the riot act, telling them it's time to "go all out." We like the sound of that, and hope we see a better performance tomorrow.

* * * * * * * *

Sunday Morning Update . . . In the Washington Times, Mike Fratto reports on Lang's transition from being a college to star to being a rookie pro. He also observes that "The Mystics will need to get off to a better start in today's game than they have in the first two losses of the season." Duh.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

In 11 years of following the Mystics, we have to say that tonight's loss to the Liberty, 79-60, was one of the most disappointing performances we've ever seen. We kept looking for signs of a "team," but frankly, all we saw was a collection of individual players. No coherent offense. No discernible defensive coordination. Were we missing something or is there something missing with this "team"?

Taj put up 26 points and 12 rebounds. She came to play. Alana added 20 points, mostly creating her own shots. We certainly can't fault those two players. But where was the rest of the "team"? 0-6 (Mo), 0-5 (Blue), 1-4 (Coco) from our guards/small forward does not win ballgames. Only 9 assisted baskets does not win ballgames. 1-9 from behind the arc does not win ballgames. Where's the coaching? What's the plan? Maybe the answers will come Sunday. We certainly hope so.

Thursday Scoop(s).

The Mystics face the Liberty in DC's second game of the regular season tonight at 7:30 PM in Madison Square Garden. No TV (unless you get the MSG network on your Dish or something) but the game is being webcast on

Now if you're a Maryland fan and you'd like to turn tonight into a Terps two-fer, Laura Harper and her Monarchs teammates take on the Chicago Sky at 8 PM on NBAtv. (Laptop to watch the Mystics . . . check! TV remote to follow Harp . . . double-check!)

On Monday, the Washington Post introduced a 3-person blog squad, the Mystics Insider. This new feature, written by Katie Carerra, Missy Rosenberg and Margaret McElligott, will be bringing Mystics fans "an inside look at the Mystics that you won't find anywhere else. Everything from roster moves, injury updates, lineups, breaking news from practice to entertaining quotes . . ." Our suggestion: Bookmark it!

While we're on the subject of blogs, yesterday Dan Steinberg posted a story on his D.C. Sports Bog about the Mystics' two "hard core" near-vegans, Nakia Sanford and Taj McWilliams-Franklin. Dan picked up on this story from an AP article that Joseph White wrote about the two. Both features make for good reading!

On Tuesday, the Mystics held a lunch-hour open practice for season ticketholders. Several dozen die-hards found their way in the pouring rain to the Verizon Center, where they watched an hour of practice and collected some autographs. Of course, a day later we learned that one of the players who signed our free Mystics poster was cut! (Somebody needs to invent erasable Sharpies.) Center Lindsay Taylor was waived to make room on the roster for another point guard, Crystal Smith. Which just goes to prove, a team can never have enough [K]Crystals! By our count, that makes four for the Mystics. Asst Coach Crystal Robinson, Rookies Crystal Langhorne and Krystal Vaughn, and now Crystal Smith. Hmmm. Seems like the Mystics will be playing a lot of Crystal ball this season. (Sorry, we couldn't help ourselves.)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Selling (during) the Games, Part 2

As the controversy over the "Expect Great" ads continues, we can't help but feel a great deal of nostalgia for the very best commercials that ever ran during WNBA games -- the Nike "Little Rascals" series, broadcast during the Monistat yeast infection era, a decade ago. For those who have never seen them, and for those who, like us, still enjoy watching them, here they are (thanks to the wonders of YouTube) back again by popular demand!

Our Favorite!

And First Runner-up!

#3, But Still Great!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Selling the Game

The Chicago Sky are running a brand-new 30-second commercial in their local viewing area. Here, have a look-see . . .

Now the BasketCases thought that was GREAT! We loooved the way Big Syl hung on the rim! Heck, now we're really disappointed that we have to wait until August 29th (!) for the Sky to come to the Phone Booth. You can bet we won't miss that game! (In fact, we're planning to be there for the warm-ups . . . you know, just in case Big Syl decides to throw one down!)

Speaking of disappointments, the WNBA's recently-launched series of ads are called "Expect Great," but in our opinion, are anything but . . . "Great," that is. Here's one of them, see what you think . . .

As you just saw, the WNBA's campaign attempts to parody the stereotypical male sports fan's disparagement of women's basketball, and -- in a matter of a mere 30 seconds -- convince him that he's wrong. It's an interesting concept, but it's a tough sell. Any time you run an ad that (even sarcastically) includes lines criticizing your own product, the execution needs to be perfect. In our opinion, these ads aren't perfect; they aren't "Great;" in fact, we think they're downright bad. (Not the fault of the players, of course.) Unfortunately, a certain "sports" columnist in today's Washington Post -- someone who would seem to embody the closed-minded, misogynist males this campaign is targeting -- not only wasn't won over by the ads' message, but used the ads as an excuse to launch his own ridiculing attack on the WNBA and women's basketball. So much for selling the game.

We don't particularly enjoy being critical of a well-intentioned (and, no doubt, expensive) effort by the League to spread the gospel of the "Greatness" of the WNBA. But after seeing the execution of the concept, we're left shaking our heads, wondering "What were they thinking?" We Expected Great Better.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

This morning we quoted Head Coach Tree Rollins' observation about the Mystics: "We're very young. There's gonna be some nights where it looks like we don't know what the heck we're doing . . ."

Well, unfortunately, this was one of those nights, as the Mystics struggled from start to finish against the Indiana Fever, managing to put up only 53 points, losing their season opener, 53-64. Yes, the Mystics were without All-Star Alana Beard. But the Fever were without their All-Star Tamika Catchings. So All-Star-wise, that's a draw.

Washington simply did not get sufficient offense from most of its starters to win this game. Unless you're Rutgers, you can't win many games either in D-I basketball or the WNBA scoring only 53 points. Indy's Katie Douglas led all scorers with 24 points. Nakia Sanford led the Mystics and recorded her first double-double of the young season (14 points and 11 boards). However, it wasn't until the waning moments of the game that a 2nd Mystics starter, Mo Currie, made it into double figures, finishing with 10 pts. Taj added 9 (along with 8 boards) and Coco had 7. Crystal Langhorne led the team in bench scoring, putting up 7 points in just under 13 minutes.

The Mystics didn't help themselves by committing 22 turnovers and hitting only 9 of 16 FTs. All in all, not their best effort. A work in progress. And not a particularly fun game to watch.

Coach Rollins warned us there'd be days like this. We were hoping, of course, that today wouldn't be one of them.

* * * * * * * * *
For Maryland Fans . . . Laura Harper's Monarchs had a better opening night, defeating San Antonio, 73-64. Harp played significant minutes coming off the bench (21) and had an excellent first outing; she scored 10 points (hitting 3 of 5 from the field and 4 of 4 from the free throw line), grabbed 5 boards, and blocked 2 shots. Her contribution was such that the headline in the Sacramento Bee for the game story read "Harper Helps Monarchs Win Season Opener."

As we were watching the game, we thought: what a wonderful thing it was to be seeing both former Terrapins, Lang and Harp, on TV on the same night, each making her professional debut, each playing well. We only wish, of course, that like the Monarchs, the Mystics had won.

* * * * * * * * *
Sunday Morning Update. The Mystics' own Sheila Johnson is the author of the "First Person Singular" feature in today's Washington Post Magazine.

Got a New Atti-tude!

The new Mystics are starting the new season today with some new attitude. Forget about the dismal slow start to last season. As Alana Beard told Mike Fratto of the Washington Times

"For us to even think about what we did last year towards the beginning is an insult. But we can remember what we did towards the end because we did keep fighting. If we bring that same attitude this season we will be good to go."

But Head Coach Tree Rollins suggests that with such a young and relatively inexperienced roster, the fans may need to show a little patience as the team grows into a playoff competitor, "finish[ing] what they started" last season:

"We're very young. There's gonna be some nights where it looks like we don't know what the heck we're doing, but there's gonna be other nights where you say 'Wow, they're going to win the championship.'"

Speaking of new Mystics and new attitude, "Mama Taj" McWilliams-Franklin embodies both. Though new to the Mystics, Taj brings a veteran's skills and attitude to the young team. Nakia Sanford told Katie Carrera of the Washington Post ". . . McWilliams-Franklin will help the team mature in a way that only her experience can provide." Meanwhile, Taj seems very happy to be surrounded by so much youth: " . . . all of these young ladies [work hard] . . ., and that makes me excited. I see so much potential here. Potential like Washington hasn't ever seen with the Mystics."

So a new season, with a new attitude, and hopefully a new and better result begins tonight. To follow all the action, tune into beginning at 7 PM, or watch the webcast online at [See yesterday's post below for details.]

* * * * * * * * * *
For Maryland Fans . . . Laura Harper and the Monarchs play their season opener tonight, against a very strong San Antonio team. This game will also be shown on as well as webcast on Tip off is at 10PM.

Friday, May 16, 2008

The Regular Season Opens . . . FAQs.

Who, When & Where? The Mystics play the Fever in Indianapolis tomorrow (Saturday) at 7 PM EDT.

Is it Televised? Yes, on

What if I don't get That's your problem, you should. You can follow all the action online. The game is being webcast on

How much does that cost? Well, when you're asked to enter your special promotion code, if you just type in "DCBC" (as in DC BasketCases), we promise it will cost you absolutely NOTHING! 100% free!

What do I have to do to watch online? Everything you need to know, you can find in the "How to Watch" section linked here. It's easy.

Can't I just listen to the radio? Certainly you may listen to the radio! Unless, of course, you'd like to follow the game, then you'd be out of luck. Mystics radio broadcasts have been replaced by webcasts this season. So it's time to enter the Cyber-world . . . or miss out!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Listen to yo' Mama!

"Mama Taj" McWilliams-Franklin, who's been blogging on for some time, has now put up her first post since joining the Washington Mystics . . . and it's GREAT! Here's the link. This is a Don't Miss! Here's a little sneak preview of what Mama Taj has to say:

"So to all of you reporters out there who have us finishing ninth in the East… wait, there are only seven teams… but you get my point… We're gonna be better than you think! . . . . We were just a couple of games out of the playoffs last year. So we feel like we are there now. Every person has to buckle in and play to the best of her ability and we'll bring some excitement to the city of Washington."
You gotta love her!

And speaking of blogs . . . Mystics COO (and Coco & Kelly's fraternal triplet) Greg Bibb also addresses the "respect" issue in his post on today's Mystics: Pass The Ball Blog:

"Despite our undefeated preseason, most of the pundits are predicting a very disappointing 2008 for us. In fact, in a recent WNBA survey of league general managers, the Mystics were voted least likely to qualify for an eastern conference playoff berth. Moreover, most league previews have Washington at the bottom of the conference. I’m ok with this because I love the role of the underdog and I really think our team is going to surprise some people this season. Stay tuned."
We will!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Take a Break, Alana.

Unfortunately, that's exactly what she needs to do. According to Katie Carrera of the Washington Post,

"Beard said yesterday that she expects to miss Washington's first two regular season games because of a strained hamstring suffered three weeks ago while playing in Poland. She hopes to return for the team's home opener May 25 against Houston."
So, for the second year in a row, the Mystics will open the season without their All-Star performer. Unfortunately, that's not the way AB, the Mystics, or their fans wanted to start things off this year . . .

Despite her latest injury, Alana told USA Today that she's still hoping to earn a spot on the U.S. Olympic team competing in Beijing this summer.

Also today, Alana, along with teammates Nakia Sanford and Mo Currie, went "3 on 1" with Slam Online's Stephen Litel.

Photo Credit: DC BasketCases

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

If you didn't catch any Caps or Wizards games this season, then the most impressive thing about the Mystics' preseason 72-66 win tonight over the Houston Comets simply had to be your first sighting of the new, improved mega-Jumbotron. Heck, let's just call it The MEGATRON from now on! A mere "Jumbotron" just doesn't do it justice. It's GIANT! It's Digital! It's a first-of-its-kind indoor LED Hi-Def Scoreboard! Wow, from any seat in the house, you can see individual beads of sweat or whether a player is wearing eyeliner. Now that's impressive!

As for the game, that wasn't quite as impressive. Yes, the Mystics won. That was good. They finished the preseason 3-0. Also good. But the game was foul and turnover-ridden -- by both teams -- and lacked any real pace. It was somewhat typical of preseason play, but not especially entertaining.

Each team played without an All-Star. Alana Beard sat out for the Mystics, nursing a strained hamstring. Hopefully a few days rest will allow AB to suit up in time for Saturday's game. Hopefully, but not definitely. Tina Thompson did not make the trip for the Comets. Rookie Matee Ajavon kept the Comets in the game with her 26 points, including a long Hail Mary 3-pointer to end the first quarter. On the Mystics' side, Nakia Sanford led Washington with 14 points; Mo Currie added 12; and 8 of the 9 remaining players got on the scoreboard. Surprisingly, the only Mystics player who didn't score was sharp-shooter Laurie Koehn, who missed all 4 of her 3-point attempts!

For Maryland Fans . . . It was certainly a pleasure to see Crystal Langhorne make her Verizon Center debut. Lang came off the bench, scored 4 pts, pulled down 6 rbs, dished out 2 very pretty assists . . . plus she played de-fense! Who knew? (Just kidding, Coach B.) Altogether a pretty respectable effort for a rookie. Perhaps the coolest thing to report is that the Verizon Center store, Fan Gear, is stocking Langhorne #1 Mystics jerseys! The BasketCases got theirs and we weren't alone. If you don't have yours yet, we suggest you arrive early for the Mystics home opener on the 25th . . . and bring your credit card. Get one while supplies last!

So now the preseason is over, the slate is wiped clean, the Mystics are back to being 0-0 and are looking forward to notching their first win of the regular season against the Fever in Indy on Saturday.

Photo Credit: DC BasketCases

And Then There Were Thirteen.

Thankfully for basketball-starved fans, including the BasketCases, we finally get to see the Mystics play tonight, as the team hosts the Houston Comets at 7 PM at the Phone Booth in DC's final pre-season match-up.

The team we'll be seeing this evening will most likely look a lot like the Mystics' official 2008 roster. That's because late yesterday, the Mystics released three more players: veteran Tamara James, free agent Chandi Jones, and this year's second round pick, Lindsey Pluimer. This brings the Mystics' roster down to the WNBA season maximum of 13 (11 active and 2 inactive).

With the season-opener only four days away, and the roster now pared down, tonight's contest will be more about getting ready for games-that-count than evaluating talent. And while we're looking forward to seeing all of the Mystics (old and new), as Maryland fans, we are particularly looking forward to getting our first look at Crystal Langhorne as a professional. Of course, it will be a bit strange to see her in a red-less uniform. Besides Lang, we are also very excited about seeing what we expect will be the team's new starting five -- Alana Beard, Nikki Blue, Mo Currie, Nakia Sanford, and Taj McWilliams-Franklin -- in their first game together on their home court.

See you tonight at the Phone Booth! And don't forget to bring diapers.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Mixed Messages.

Exhibit A.

"The Washington Mystics Foundation is a national non-profit organization dedicated to improving and maintaining the total health and well-being of youth. The initial focus of the foundation will be in the area of childhood obesity prevention." (Source: Washington Mystics Foundation)

Exhibit B.

"As part of a sponsorship of the WNBA's season-opening week, the [McDonalds] fast feeder's logo will appear on the front of all 14 team jerseys during early-season contests, including three nationally televised games. The WNBA designed the McJerseys to help the Golden Arches launch its Southern-style chicken breakfast sandwich, which is being hyped with a national sampling effort May 15, two days before the women's basketball league's season kickoff." (Source: Advertising Age)

Sunday, May 11, 2008

George Solomon, former Sports Editor of the Washington Post, now writes a really boring column for the paper every Sunday. Today he ended his column this way:

"There's no place more still than an empty arena in the weeks after the local pro basketball and hockey teams have been eliminated from the playoffs. I know, we have the Mystics and Neil Diamond (Aug. 5). But . . ."

See photo.

Friday, May 09, 2008

We have Good News . . . and we have Bad News.

For former Terrapin, Shay Doron, the month of May began on a very high note. Shay and her teammates on Elizur Ramla prevailed over Raanana Hertzeliya in the finals of the Israeli Championship. In typical unselfish fashion, Shay had this to say after her team secured the victory:

“Luckily for us it all finally came together at the end. I told my teammates before the game: ‘I don’t care if I don’t score at all tonight as long as we win the championship’. It’s an amazing feeling, the best feeling in the world. To win like this, it’s sweet. It’s something else.”
Of course, Shay was not held scoreless; in fact, she contributed 15 points to her team's winning effort. Congratulations to Shay on another important championship!

Unfortunately, the news today out of the New York Liberty training camp was not what Shay or her fans were hoping to hear:

May 9 The New York Liberty waived Megan Darrah and Shay Doron.
Photo Credit: Motti Klinger

Thursday, May 08, 2008

All Aboard!

The Mystics caught an early train this morning for New York's Penn Station. They're heading to the Big Apple to face the Liberty in an 11 AM preseason game at Madison Square Garden. This is a School Day game, so you may be thankful that there's no radio broadcast. However you may (or may not) be able to follow the scoring on

Today's game is the first since training camp opened with all the Mystics veterans finally on board. Alana Beard, Mo Currie, Laurie Koehn and Chandi Jones (new to the Mystics, but not to the league) arrived this week and practiced with the team yesterday.

Friday Morning Update: The Mystics "won" yesterday's scrimmage preseason game against the Liberty, 58-52. One look at the boxscore was enough to tell us that, for both teams, this contest was more about evaluating talent and providing newbies with playing time than an actual preview of what we may expect when the DC and NY teams face off for real. But, no doubt, the "victory" made for a more pleasant trip home for the Mystics team and coaches.

Next up, the Houston Comets at Verizon Center at 7 PM next Tuesday, May 13th. That game, coming only 4 days before the start of the regular season, should be more of a real preseason tune-up than these two earlier match-ups. We're really looking forward to getting our first look at the old -- and newly-improved -- Mystics roster!

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Of course, if you can't wait 'til Tuesday to get glimpse of the old and the new Mystics, you could attend tonight's Guppy Gala at the National Zoo. Mystics Nakia Sanford and Crystal Langhorne hope to make a big splash with the kids at this event, rain or shine!

Monday, May 05, 2008

Mystics vs Monarchs from Tampa . . . well, wasn't that exciting!

For fans at home . . . about as exciting as watching paint dry. But for fans at the game in Tampa, very! Apparently, the Mystics came from 9 points down 11 points down in the 4th period to tie the game at the end of regulation, and went on to notch an overtime win, 90-82.

As it turns out, there was no Internet broadcast of tonight's game, despite the "listen live" links on the teams' web sites. And adding insult to injury, there wasn't any play-by-play, scoreboard updates -- or anything -- on either!

Thankfully, a Monarchs fan from Yuba City, CA, was listening on local radio and posted updates on the Rebkell message board! (Thanks, monarchsgamespictaker!) And a reliable source sent us a couple of emails from the arena. (Thanks, DT!)

So besides the score, here's everything we think we know: Harp started; the Monarchs only brought 9 players, including several reserves and rookies; Taj tied the score with 1.3 seconds left in regulation, but missed the "and-one," thus allowing the game to go to overtime. Lang scored at least 6 points that we know of, two of which came in overtime; the Mystics led early and at the half; Nikki Blue started and ran the point for the Mystics; Taj "hammered" Harp sometime in the 4th; veteran players Blue, Taj, Nakia and Coco re-entered the game in the final period for the Mystics and put on the charge that tied it up; rookie Krystal Vaughn impressed the radio announcers; and, Dr. J sat courtside tracking the action complete with roster and clipboard. Of course, it's always possible that our message board buddy made all this up! (No, we don't really believe that!) That completes our game "report."

So, if you're wondering who was the leading scorer? We don't know. Leading rebounder? We don't know. Who started for each team? We don't know. We just have to wait until someone down in Tampa posts a news report. And of course, when that happens, we'll add the link. And then, just maybe, we can all learn more about what really happened at tonight's "exciting" preseason contest. Now we're going back to watching our paint dry some more.

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Tuesday Morning Update. Thanks to the St. Pete Times and, we finally have an eyewitness account of last night's action as well as a Box Score! The Mystics sent 14 players into the game; Taj led the team in scoring with 16. Nikki Blue, who started at the PG spot, had 15 points and 5 assists. She also hit 6 of 6 free throws during the overtime. And 711 people saw the game live.

For Maryland fans . . . Harp started for Sacramento, played 26 minutes, had 7 pts, 5 boards and 1 block (before fouling out with 6 fouls -- ooops!). For the Mystics, Lang came off the bench, played 16 minutes, had 6 pts, 5 rbs and 1 steal (and fortunately only 1 PF).

While the Mystics were down in Tampa, they also held a clinic for local high school basketball players. Next on the team's schedule is a pre-season game this Thursday in New York against the Liberty. Tip-off is at 11am. It's "School Day" at Madison Square Garden, so you can bet there will be more than 711 people in attendance for this exhibition game, it's just that most of them won't be old enough to drive, drink, or vote.

Lang: "Psst, Laura, I'm sorry you're gonna lose tonight."

Harp: "Pffft, bring it on."

This evening, the WNBA pre-season gets underway for the Mystics, as Washington takes on the Sacramento Monarchs at 7PM -- in Tampa. The BasketCases are not aware of any radio coverage of this game, but we're hoping to follow the "play by play" on Apparently, the Monarchs will be broadcasting this game. You can hear the broadcast via; follow the "listen live" link located in the Ticket Center & Calendar section of Sacramento's home page.

The game's Florida venue also means that most Mystics fans (and most Maryland fans) won't be able to see Lang and Harp in the very first game where they are opponents, not teammates. Greg Auman of the St. Petersburg Times has a feature on these two friends, now foes.

"It'll be very different to play against her," said Langhorne, a 6-foot-2 forward who was taken with the No. 6 pick. "But ever since we've been with our WNBA teams, we've talked every day."
Meanwhile, today's Tampa Tribune has a profile of Bay area native and 2007 Mystics 1st round draftee, Bernice Mosby, who is still recovering from off-season knee surgery but is expecting to play in the Mystics' regular season opener on May 17. The BasketCases look forward to seeing B-Mo back in the line-up!

Speaking of the regular season, previews the Mystics and concludes that with the additional leadership provided by newly-acquired Taj McWilliam-Franklin, plus some talented young new players on the roster, and especially Alana Beard's recovery from shoulder surgery, things are definitely looking up for the Mystics!

Photo Credit: DC BasketCases

Friday, May 02, 2008

We're Bored.

The college season's been over for nearly a month. The excitement of the WNBA draft has faded into a distant memory. The WNBA training camps are underway, but some players are still overseas and information about the rest only trickles out a little here and a little there. Not a heck of a lot to keep a couple of bloggers busy. So if this post sounds perhaps a little disinterested, well, we apologize. Until some real basketball begins again we're kinda in a perpetual TGIF state of mind.

Anyway, here's all the news that's fit to post:

Katie Carrera of the Washington Post has a feature this morning on a Mystics' draftee named Krystal (not the one who spells her name with a "C"). Fans who've seen Krystal Vaughn play have been raving to us about her. From Carrera's article, it seems that the coaches are equally high on this 3rd rounder. You can find the article here.

Meanwhile, if you ever wondered what WNBA owners do during the off-season, Rick Warner of has a very interesting feature about how Dr. J has been "fiddlin' away" her time. She's been involved in some pretty exciting and very worthwhile ventures. Read more here.

And in a different business publication, Women Bisnow, Karin Tanabe has a feature on another woman who has achieved great success in her career and really knows how to "deliver," Brenda Frese. Not much new in this article, but we enjoyed reading it anyway. You can find it here.

The only other news out of Maryland is that the match-ups for the second annual ACC-Big Ten Challenge have been announced. The Terps will play the Purdue Boilermakers in West Lafayette, Indiana on Thursday, December 4th, in what should be the premiere match-up of the inter-conference competition. As you may recall, in the inaugural event, the Terps beat the top-ranked Big Ten team, Ohio State, and the ACC as a whole dominated the Big 10, winning the Challenge, 8-3. If you'd like to learn more about the Challenge and the Maryland-Purdue match-up, click here and here.

Another note before we nod off at our desks . . . we were distressed to learn this week that two of the WNBA's top players, Lindsey Harding of the Minnesota Lynx and DeMya Walker of the Sacramento Monarchs, both suffered fractured knee-cap injuries, which will likely result in their missing the entire WNBA season. The reason we mention this is because DeMya, a 6'3" center, was expected to start in the post for the Monarchs, the team that drafted the Terps' Laura Harper. As a result of DeMya's very unfortunate injury, Harp's first pro season could change dramatically, as she may see far more minutes of playing time than previously thought. It will be a challenge, but if any rookie player can handle that additional responsibility, we're confident that Laura is that person.

And speaking of the Monarchs, the Mystics are hosting Sacaramento on Monday in a preseason game in Tampa, where Washington is currently training. This will be the first time that the Terps' frontcourt duo of Harp & Lang face off against each other on opposing teams. That should be interesting . . . and exciting! We were hoping to provide our readers with a full report and photos, but unfortunately the plane tickets and complimentary room accommodations we were expecting to receive from Dr. J have yet to arrive! So it looks like after Monday's game we'll just have to provide you with an eye-less witness report.