Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween! Can you believe it's been an entire year since the Terps treated their fans to that fun-filled exhibition against the soon-to-be Olympic Gold Medalists? What a special night!

No game today . . . so hopefully our guest analysts (Markus and Tyler) and Junior Terrapins everywhere will get to experience their first (or annual) foray into the world of trick or treating. (We're guessing the costume of choice this year will be Turtles.)

Meanwhile, for our Senior Terrapin fans (those too old to go door-to-door begging candy), the BasketCases have some Trick or Treats of another sort in store for you today:

Treat. Have you visited yet? This is a new state-of-the art internet offering that provides a closer -- and more personal -- look at Coach B's program. The new site is targeting recruits, but there's plenty of interest there for all Terps fans. Be sure to add this bookmark to your Favorites!

Treat. Speaking of recruits, Matt Bracken's Baltimore Sun Recruiting Report has interesting features on Maryland's two latest verbals: Essence Townsend and Alyssa Thomas. And, if you've been wondering what happened to recruit Jackie Nared, thanks to Matt, there's no need to wonder any longer!

Trick. We've heard a rumor that the mascot of a certain ACC blue team, Duke, has undergone an off-season makeover. Reportedly, the Blue Devil's face now has a meaner demeanor. That we believe. But we've also heard that they made his head smaller! Come on now . . . we've all met plenty of Dukies with swelled heads, haven't we? Have you ever known one of those swelled heads to actually shrink? No? Neither have we! That's why we're reserving judgment on this . . . we'll believe it when we see it!

Trick. Speaking of that very same blue team, from now on we may refer to them as TTTMNBN -- The Team That Must Not Be Named. Following their recent Blue/White Scrimmage, message boards have been buzzing with speculation. Apparently (after a few rousing choruses of Kumbaya, followed by a group hug) Coach McCallie and her staff decided that player names on jerseys would a Bad Bad Thing for team-building! They might encourage individuality! OMG! Bad Bad Bad! So, we hear, the names were Scheer(ed) off the uniforms this season down in Durham. Meaning there will be no Christmas this year! And with names now on the Wane(r), those fans who actually like to know who the players are without checking a roster will no longer be merry or Gay while trying to follow the action; instead it'll be a Black day for those fans from this day forward. But who cares about the fans! Let them turn the other Cheek! What matters is that TTTMNBN will all be united as one T-E-A-M, the Duke Blue Devils. And, if the coaching staff is right, then from now on when each Blue Devil player dons her jersey before a game, a karmic sense of oneness with all things Duke will permeate every fiber of her being as she contemplates the only name on her uniform: Duke! Gosh, the thought of it almost makes the BasketCases teary-eyed. (By the way, did you know that if you scramble the letters in Duke Blue Devils it spells out "Sulk believe dud"?)

Treat. The WNBA holds an annual photo-of-the-year contest. In the first round, fans vote for their favorite photo from each team, and then those Round 1 winning photos enter the bracket for the WNBA Photo of the Year. Well, check out the Round 1 results from the Sacramento Monarchs here. And the winner is . . . Rookie Enthusiam! Recognize anyone?

Treat. Right now one of those "enthusiastic rookies" is playing alongside her former Terps teammate, Shay Doron, in Turkey. And international basketball certainly agrees with Laura -- she's currently leading the Euroleague in rebounding! Meanwhile, another former teammate, Crystal Langhorne (who, in her Mystics Pass the Ball blog several weeks ago described herself as the "only black person in the country of Lithuania"), is also finding European play to her liking. She's averaging 20 ppg (4th best in the league!) and 12 rpg (2nd best behind Harp). And, even more astounding: Lang actually hit her first (that we know of) 3-pointer! Now that's what we call a real treat! Happy Halloween!

Reminder: The Terps open their exhibition season on Sunday at 2 PM vs DT III. While it's not exactly like opening against the USA National Team, it should still be F-U-N! See ya Sunday!

Thursday, October 23, 2008


This evening, the BasketCases had the opportunity, the pleasure -- and the privilege -- to meet the Mystics' new GM, Angela Taylor. All we can say is, now we BELIEVE!

First, we'd like to give credit to Mystics COO Greg Bibb. Hearing him tell us and a handful of other long-time fans about the process that resulted in Angela's hiring was both informative and very affirming. Greg talked about the 7 criteria that the organization was looking for in the new GM. (Read his blog for specifics.) Particularly interesting was his admission that he didn't really expect to find a single person who would score an A+ on all 7 criteria. But, to his pleasant surprise, he did. One candidate (of about 40 considered) stood head and shoulders above the rest. And after meeting Angela tonight, we have to say, we can see why!

If you read our post below, you know that we were already very impressed with Angela's résumé. However, in person, she's even more impressive!

Just like Greg Bibb has on the business-side, Angela has a plan on the team-side (plus the know-how) to change the culture of the Mystics from that of underachievers to a solid, consistently successful franchise. After listening to Greg and Angela, we can only conclude that gone are the days of trying to patch a team together for short-term, single season success (not that we've had much of that). In this new era, the goal will be to lay a strong foundation with young players and make player-personnel decisions based on more than single-season concerns. Can Angela turn the franchise around overnight? Probably not (though she'll certainly be trying). But will she succeed? Well, we wouldn't bet against her! As Angela said tonight, "You make your own luck." We like the sound of that!

The cyberworld we live in is a pretty remarkable place at times. After we posted earlier today, the BasketCases heard from a number of Minnesota Lynx fans (in emails and message board posts). To a person, they ALL said that Angela Taylor is an exceptional human being, someone they will truly miss, and an individual who could really help the Mystics franchise succeed. What better recommendation could we hear than that! (Many thanks to all the people we heard from . . . we really appreciate your taking the time to share your knowledge and feelings about Angela.)

Angela starts work on Monday, and her first order of business will be to hire a Head Coach. We learned tonight that many candidates have already been interviewed, with several more to be seen next week. According to Greg, we can expect an announcement sometime in the next few weeks.

If you're a Mystics season ticket-holder (and for the first time in a while, we're going on record as saying you should be!), you will have an opportunity to meet Angela yourself on Wednesday, November 5th. Don't miss this event. Meet her; talk with her; make up your own mind; and then tell us if you Believe.

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In the small world department . . . When Angela learned that we're also Terps fans, she told us that when she was at Stanford, she played against Brenda Frese, who was then a student-athlete at the University of Arizona. We didn't ask who won (but we do recall that the Cardinal snagged those two Nattys during that era, and Arizona snared . . . uhh, we can't remember how many. But we do know that Coach B has one now!)

Photo Credit: DC BasketCases

Friday Morning Update: The Mystics held a telephone press conference yesterday to introduce Angela to the local media. Read Mike Fratto's Washington Times report here and Kathy Orton's Washington Post report here.

Mystics Pick a Winner!

1992 Stanford University National Championship Team
[Photo courtesy of Stanford Athletics]

Moments ago, the Mystics announced in an email to season ticket holders that Angela Taylor has been named the team's new General Manager.

Angela brings 12 seasons of WNBA experience -- and a very impressive résumé -- to her new job with the Mystics. She's been with the league since its launch in 1997, spending ten seasons working in the WNBA League Front Office in the area of player personnel. In July 2006, she moved to the Minnesota Lynx to become Vice President of Business Operations.

Angela began her WNBA career in New York in 1997 as the League's Coordinator of Player Personnel. In 2005, following several other promotions, she was elevated to Senior Director, Player Personnel. In that position, Angela was primarily responsible for the WNBA's collegiate and international player evaluation as well as other player-personnel matters. Since player evaluation is critical to the success of any GM, we're delighted that Angela already has experience in that area.

Before moving to the WNBA, Angela spent a total of 4 seasons as an Assistant Basketball Coach at Stanford University, Texas A&M and the University of Arizona. But Angela's most impressive credential, as far as the BasketCases are concerned, is that in her 4 years playing basketball at Stanford University, she won TWO NATTYS! Let us repeat that. TWO NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS!! Angela and her Cardinal teammates won their first Championship in 1990 and their second in 1992! (Which certainly makes her a winner in our book!) So not only does Angela have WNBA experience, not only has she been a successful player, but she's also worked with some outstanding -- and successful -- coaches, which hopefully will prepare her well for making that all-important decision about who will coach the Mystics in 2009 and beyond!

Angela also has a very solid academic record: she received her undergraduate degree from Stanford in 1993, and while working for the WNBA in New York, earned an MBA from NYU's Stern School of Business in 2002. The BasketCases tend to like smart people . . . and Angela clearly seems to fit the bill.

Right now, while Angela Taylor may not be a household name among fans, we believe that among veteran players, WNBA coaches, GMs and (no doubt) the WNBA League Front Office, she is very well known and very highly regarded. Here in D.C., she faces a formidable task. Turning around the fortunes of the Mystics isn't going to be easy and it isn't going to be quick. However, the BasketCases are hopeful that under Angela's leadership, a winning attitude will take root and begin to grow here in Washington. We'd like to extend our personal welcome to new GM Angela Taylor, and we wish her all the best.


Please check back with us later for the breaking news.

*If our information is correct, the BasketCases will be very pleased with the selection.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

More Good News from College Park . . .

The Baltimore Sun's Matt Bracken reported yesterday that over the weekend, Coach B received verbal commitments from two highly-rated high-schoolers, Essence Townsend and Alyssa Thomas.

Essence is a 6'6" senior at Patterson (N.J.) Catholic, known for her shot-blocking ability and her rapidly improving offensive skills. She'll be joining the Terps beginning with the 2009-10 season.

There's a (double-hanky) feature about Essence in last December's The Record Online, linked here. (Matt Bracken also links to the same article from his report.) Please don't miss reading this! Still just a teenager, this young lady has already overcome more hardship than many of us experience in an entire lifetime. We haven't yet seen her play, but we're fans of hers already!

Welcome, Essence!

Our other very special future Terp, Alyssa, is a 6'2" junior wing from Central Dauphin (PA). She's currently ranked 27th in the Hoopgurlz Super 60 national rankings for the class of 2010. Impressive! She was a first-team all-state selection as a sophomore. And she still has two more seasons of high school ball to keep working on her game! We can't wait to see her play either! You can read more about Alyssa here in today's Patriot News article announcing her Maryland commitment.

Welcome, Alyssa!

Of course, early commits from two special players like these give Terps fans plenty to smile about and send a very positive message about the future of Terrapin basketball!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Interstice. (in tʉr′stis) noun. A space or gap in things generally continuous. Example: This interstice between the WNBA and college basketball seasons really sucks.

But today, thanks to all the folks associated with the Terps' basketball program and the Maryland Rebounders, this interstice was made a little more tolerable. Members of the Rebounders were invited to watch a Maryland practice. And while the players and coaches were hard at work, the doors to some of the behind-the-scenes points of interest were thrown open to the boosters for guided tours. And here's a little of what we saw . . .

The Team Room. Comfy seating. Music. A Fridge (something that keeps food and beverages cold . . . not the football coach). A TV and DVD player. Laptops. And plenty of interesting "art" on the walls.

The locker room. Before the players arrive, it's neat. After the players leave, it's neat. While the players are on court practicing . . . well, it kinda looks like it's inhabited by teenagers!

The players, coaches and scout team, working hard. (That's new Assistant Coach Tina Langley watching from the baseline.)

A very focused Coach B keeping a close eye on the team's performance.

And BasketCases guest analyst Tyler, also keeping a close eye on the team's performance.

Coach Daron Park has the team's full attention.

Post-practice, each member of the 2008-09 squad introduced herself to the Rebounders. On the left, High School All-American and USA U18 Gold Medal winner Lynetta Kizer. In the middle, a senior who needs no introduction! And on the right, another senior, Sa'de Wiley-Gatewood, who, we're extremely happy to report, looks like she's finally healthy enough to help run the Terps' offense this season, having sat out last season because of injuries.

One "oldster" and some newbies. Far left, Yemi Oyefuwa from London, England. Yemi has only been playing basketball for less than 2 years, so she's still learning the game . . . but she's got plenty of upside potential. Next to Yemi, Anjale Barrett. Anjale was red-shirted last year due to a pre-season injury. We're pleased that this year she's back and ready to play. Next is grad student Lori Bjork. Lori earned her undergraduate degree from Illinois in 3 years, is sitting out this season (due to NCAA transfer regulations), and will be eligible to play for Maryland in 2009-10. Of course, next to Lori is the very recognizable, Marissa Coleeeeee-man! And on the far right of the picture, next to Marissa, is Junior College National Champ Dee Liles from nearby Suitland, MD.

Last but not least, Sophs Drey Mingo and Marah Stickland . . . looking very much like veterans, not rookies any more!

The Terps take to the court for their first pre-season exhibition game on Sunday, November 2nd. That's only two weeks from today. And two weeks after that, the regular season home opener! Finally! All we can say it that this interstice has been brutal . . . but at least now we can begin to see the light at the end of the turtle tunnel.

Photo Credits: DC BasketCases

Sunday, October 05, 2008


There is NO ONE more deserving!!!! Congratulations to Taj McWilliams-Franklin on her first WNBA Championship!

Photo Credit: DC BasketCases (from NBA TV)

Thursday, October 02, 2008

An Open Letter to Doris Burke

Dear Doris,

That was some game last night between the Shock and the Silver Stars, wasn't it? Just when Detroit seemed to have the game well in hand, San Antonio roared back in the 4th quarter to tie things up. But the Shock didn't give up, stopped the hemorrhaging, and pulled out the win, stealing one on the Silver Stars' own floor, 77-69. Now that's Championship basketball! And once again, Detroit's veterans Katie Smith (25 pts, 9 boards) and our favorite Shock player, Taj McWilliams-Franklin (24 pts, 7 boards), came up big for Detroit in this first game of the best of 5 series.

But, of course, you saw it all from your front row seat as an ESPN commentator. However, we thought we'd provide you with that brief game summary, just in case -- while you were busy criticizing the Mystics -- you missed some of the action on the floor.

As you did during the Eastern Conference playoffs, instead of sticking to commentary on the game, you again decided to stick it to the Mystics for trading Taj to the Shock during the Olympic break. As you are fond of repeating, the trade hurt other playoff contenders in the East (including your beloved UConn-Sun team) who, you argue, would have benefited in their post-break playoff runs, as well as in the post-season, by Detroit's loss of Cheryl Ford to a season-ending injury. In your coverage of the playoffs, you suggested this sort of trade just wasn't done within a conference, and that other GMs in the East were upset with the Mystics. Well, here's what the BasketCases have to say about that: Boo hoo! (You can quote us on it.)

Here's the thing, Doris . . . when it comes to the Mystics' personnel decisions, the Mystics' Front Office has but one obligation and one obligation only: to make the Mystics a better team. Period. (Now that's a pretty radical concept, isn't it?) Is it their job to worry whether a trade will help or hurt the Sun's chances of finishing first in the Eastern Conference? No! Is it their job to worry whether a trade will help or hurt the Liberty's chances of making it into the Championship Finals? No!

The Mystics spent most of this season swirling around in a vortex of doom. At the time of the Olympic break, we doubt you could've found a single fan here in Washington who didn't believe it was time to focus on building for the future. Our owner-fan, Dr. J, came out and said as much (and took flak from the League for her honesty . . . go figure!). So when Trader Bill came calling, the Mystics saw an opportunity to jump-start the rebuilding process, and maybe, just maybe, start turning things around -- not for this season, but for next season, or more likely, the year after that or even the year after that. What were the Mystics supposed to say: No Thank You, Bill. We're sorry, but if we trade a soon-to-be-38-year-old star, Taj, for a talented 22-year-old rookie, Tasha Humphrey, then Blaze or Thibault might be upset with us? We don't think so! That's not how things work in the real world.

In conclusion, Doris . . . we know you love the Connecticut Sun. We like them too. But they lost. Their season is over. It's time to move on. Now stop making excuses, and pay attention to the games!

Sincerely yours,

The DC BasketCases

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Mystics News: Yesterday, the Mystics announced that four members of the Front Office staff have been promoted. The BasketCases extend a hearty congratulations to each of them and, in particular, to our favorite Senior PR Director and now Vice President of Communications, Ketsia Colimon!