Sunday, April 26, 2009

Great Season!

For those who don't believe in global warming . . . it was in the 90s today in our nation's capital . . . in April! Fortunately, the BasketCases and hundreds of other Maryland fans -- 435 others to be exact -- had a cool place to take shelter from the sweltering heat: the annual Maryland team banquet!

Every banquet has a silent auction, packed with plenty of Terps memorabilia, and this one was no exception. Lots of great items and plenty of silent bidding wars that stretched a few credit cards.

The signed ACC Champions backboard sign was a particularly popular item and went for a hefty sum.

As did every signed photo of Marissa and Kristi.

Marissa and Kristi were both mobbed from the moment they stepped into the room. Each graciously signed autographs and posed for photos.

ACC Rookie of the Year Lynetta Kizer also posed (graciously) at her first team banquet.

Emery Wallace, Yemi Oyefuwa, and Jackie Nared . . . all looking very stylish!

The tradition continues.... Rebounder Daphne has Kristi sign the WNBA ball signed two years ago by Shay Doron and last year by Crystal Langhorne and Laura Harper.

Then it was Marissa's turn to sign....

With 437 fans in attendance, the Riggs Alumni Hall was completely packed. In fact, the team decided to forgo the usual head table this year to make room for about six additional tables of fans. And the individual tables were increased from seating 8 to seating 10 to accommodate all the fans who wanted to attend.

Coach B surprised outgoing Rebounders President Obie O'Brien and his wife, Marilyn (who preceded Obie as President), by honoring them for their many years of service to the Rebounders and to the team. This was a well deserved recognition for two really terrific people!

Coach B presented the shortest dress award (previously held by Marissa Coleman) to Jackie Nared, and correctly guessed that Jackie's parents were not in attendance!

Marissa and Kristi enjoying the proceedings.

Coach B noted that it did not take Marissa long to switch her wardrobe from Maryland red to Mystics blue. We've got to admit, the color looks good on her!

Kim Rodgers, Marissa, and Lynetta

To no one's surprise, this year's MVP award went to both seniors, members of the winningest class in Maryland history.

Kristi was the first of the seniors to deliver her farewell remarks. They were warm, funny, and clearly heartfelt.

Marissa's farewell speech. When it came time to tell her teammates how much they meant to her, Marissa broke down in tears.

A final hug as college teammates....

... now professional competitors.

Photo Credits: DC BasketCases

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A Domestic Sponsorship Partnership.

The Mystics announced today the formation of a sponsorship partnership with Exxon Mobil Corporation.

Good news for the financial health of the WNBA franchise? Yes. Good news for the female high school students the sponsor will honor each week? Absolutely!

But, "good news" for many of the loyal fans who have supported the Mystics over the years? We think not.

A decade ago, when Exxon acquired Mobil, the new ExxonMobil Corp. "closed" Mobil's domestic partnership benefits program and removed from the company's anti-discrimination policies explicit protections for employees based on sexual orientation. (Source: Human Rights Campaign -- a supporter of the Mystics since the team's launch in 1998.)

The BCs love the Mystics. But when we need gas on our way to the Phone Booth, we'll still continue to fill up . . . anyplace but Exxon.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Final Four!

You know you are truly insane a basketball junkie when you sit around on a Sunday morning, drinking coffee, eating breakfast, all while watching a webcast of a basketball game coming to you live from . . . Cēsis, Latvia! A game broadcast in a language that, not only can't you understand, but aren't even sure what language it is. (However, we're guessing it was Latvian, making us wish we had invited Zane Teilane over for an early brunch . . . she could've translated.) But heck, language barrier or not, we could not possibly miss the Finals of the Baltic Women's Final Four Championship between defending champs TEO Vilnius of Lithuania and home-team SK Cēsis (no neutral sites for these Final Fours!). So we were glued to our laptop.

Indeed, how could we miss an opportunity to see #11 on the TEO roster and her teammates play for the Championship? That's #11 in the back row on the far right. Recognize her? Yup, of course you do . . . it's the Mystics' (and formerly the Terps') own Crystal Allison Langhorne (as she is listed on the TEO roster)!

We're pleased to report that Lang's team cruised to victory, 68-47. At first, the BasketCases had a little bit of trouble recognizing Lang on the court, since the player we thought was Lang was nailing a couple of jumpshots from just inside the 3-point line, not to mention swishing FTs (6 of 7) like she was, hmmm, Marissa Coleman. But indeed that was Lang, and we're hoping that Lang doesn't forget to bring that additional range back with her when she packs her bags and heads home to the Phone Booth this summer! Lang finished with a game-high 28 points, including 11 of 14 FGs.

After the game, all four teams competing this weekend were called back onto the court to receive various awards. As best we could tell, Lang was named to the All-Tournament team (either that, or five players were called out at random and given medals (as well flowers to help jump-start their spring gardens)).

Finally, we'd be remiss if we did not give a shoutout to the SK Cēsis mascot, who appeared to be something on the order of a white and beige walking raccoon (though we're not quite sure). One of our favorite moments this morning came during a timeout, when the mascot wheeled a baby carriage onto the center of the court, then gently picked up a little baby mascot from the carriage, and presented it to the TEO coach. Baby Daddy? Made us laugh out loud . . . some things don't need translation. Fun!

Congratulations to Lang and her teammates on a successful defense of their Baltic title! And thank you to the live feed from for our much-needed basketball fix.

And in Other Mystics (good) News . . . Yesterday, announced their All Euro-Cup Awards for 2008-09 and the Mystics' Nakia Sanford was a First Team selection (Forward of the year!) while Shay Murphy (who averaged 22.2 ppg) was a Second Team All Euro-Cup selection. Both Kia and Shay were named to the "All Imports" team as well. Congratulations to Kia and to Shay! Now it's time to "export" all that great ball you've been playing back to DC.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

DrafTEE Party

Eschewing their traditional mid-day draft party this year, the Mystics instead held a hugely successful (as in packed house!) meet-the-draft-pick party this evening so that Mystics fans could actually meet the newest member of the team, Marissa Coleman. To no one's surprise, many of the fans in attendance (including, of course, the BasketCases) had already met Marissa, but whether they had or not, it was clear that everyone in the room was absolutely delighted that Marissa is now a Mystic and was looking forward to the new season. The excitement was palpable. And while draft day parties have always been fun, having an evening event like this definitely allowed more fans to attend.

Frank "voice of the Mystics" Hanrahan em-ceed the event. Head Coach Julie Plank and GM Angela Taylor both spoke about their plans for this season, including the style of play we can expect from a Plank-coached team. Fast and up-tempo!

Speaking of up-tempo, point Guard Nikki Blue, fresh from her first year as an Assistant Coach at UNLV, was on hand. She told the BasketCases that she not only enjoys coaching, but that she's learned a great deal as a coach that she believes will improve her as a player. We're looking forward to seeing Nikki in action again.

It would not be a Mystics party without a raffle, and COO Greg Bibb pressed the rookie into service. Marissa also answered fans' questions, and we learned, among other things, that Rissa is completely ready to play in a Duke-blue uniform. And that her new Jack Russell puppy, Boston (love the name!), is adorable. (Marissa had the pictures on her iPhone to prove it.)

Trudi Lacey, the Mystics' newest Assistant Coach, was in the house as well, and very excited to be in Washington this summer.

A first: Marissa signed autographs tonight with her new number. While Terps fans will never forget Number 25, Mystics fans tonight extended an exceedingly warm welcome to Number 4.

Photo Credits: DC BasketCases
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Wednesday afternoon update . . . Facing the WNBA's new limit of 15 players on training camp rosters, the Mystics began making cuts today, waiving three-point specialist Laurie Koehn, as well as Andrea Gardner and Krystal Vaughn. By opening day, rosters must be cut to 11, so GMs across the league are having to make some very unpleasant decisions. That and the demise of the Houston Comets unfortunately means that many WNBA players are not going to have jobs this season, some of them popular players like Laurie.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Changes . . .

With the graduation of Kristi Toliver and Marissa Coleman, it was a given that next year's Terrapin team would look very different. But it now turns out that the team is going to look even more different than anyone had anticipated. On Friday, Maryland announced that sophomore Drey Mingo would be leaving "to seek more playing time." That announcement was followed today by the news that Marah Strickland has also decided to transfer. Both Drey and Marah are talented young women who have contributed to the Maryland program, and the BasketCases wish them all the best wherever they end up.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Marissa Coleman:“Now I can talk some trash [with Kristi] ’cause everyone knows that I’m drafted ahead of her.”

That's definitely the fun side of Marissa Coleman that Terps' fans have come to know and love. You can find that one-liner and more in the must-read diary posted on here by Neil Johnson, the (really lucky) WNBA staffer assigned as Marissa's escort to help Marissa get to all of the draft-related "events and obligations" in New York and New Jersey on Tuesday and Wednesday. Neil was very impressed by Marissa's ability to handle the media, seemingly attributing it to the little bit of "media training" the WNBA gave the draft prospects a few hours before the draft. However, the BasketCases suspect that four years of having had cameras and microphones trained on her for Under the Shell significantly contributed to the poise that Marissa showed on Wednesday.

Marissa will be putting more of her people skills to use this Tuesday evening, when the Mystics host a post-draft party for fans. Details are on the Mystics' web site. Be sure to RSVP!

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Newest Mystic

Is Marissa Coleman happy about having been drafted by the Mystics? You bet she is! As Mike Fratto reports in today's Washington Times, Marissa told the media, “I'm very excited to play with the Mystics. I grew up watching them play; you know they're in my backyard. I don't think there's a better situation for me to end up in.” For their part, according to Fratto, the Mystics are equally delighted, having ranked Marissa as "the highest-rated player on [their] draft board."

GM Angela Taylor told the Post's Katie Carrera that the Mystics "couldn't pass up Coleman's versatility." As reported by Carrera, "In the upcoming season, the Mystics plan to rely on its platoon of shooting guards and small forwards -- including Matee Ajavon, Alana Beard, Monique Currie and Coleman -- to lead a fast-paced style that emphasizes the transition game."

In the Mystics' own post-draft press release, Angela elaborated on some of the things that so impressed them about Marissa:

Marissa was an integral part of building a championship program at Maryland and has consistently demonstrated an ability to elevate her game at crucial times during the course of a game. Her size, versatility, and ability to score from anywhere on the floor makes her a very special player. Her competitiveness, work ethic, and passion for winning have made her a champion. All of which will certainly will be great complements to the players we have on our roster.

And Mechelle Voepel sums up Marissa this way: "Marissa Coleman is sort of the basketball Kate Winslet to me: I like everything she does and think she can do anything. Lots of women’s hoops followers feel the same way."


Finally, even though the season hasn't yet started, Marissa is already playing well with her new teammates. Marissa's college number, 25, happens to be the number that Mo Currie wears for the Mystics. However, no exchange of golf clubs or other goods will be necessary to resolve the conflict. Marissa has already reported via Twitter that "I don't want to beat down Mo Currie for #25, so I'm changing my number to 4, for my boy. My little bro." We're glad that's been taken care of so quickly!

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Sky High . . .While Marissa is happy to be staying home, Kristi Toliver is excited about heading to the Windy City this summer to start her professional career. Kristi grew up wanting to play with Michael Jordan and the Bulls. As she told the Diamondback about being drafted by the Sky yesterday, "If I can't play for the Bulls, then I guess this was the next best thing." According to the Chicago Tribune, Kristi is looking forward to playing up-tempo ball on her new team: "I know they want to get up and down; I know they love to run. I'm just really excited, and I think we'll work really well together." The Sky were looking for more offense, and they certainly got it in Kristi. Chicago GM and Head Coach Steve Key praised Kristi as "the best fit for our team. We needed someone who could create their own shot." She sure can!

Thursday, April 09, 2009

This Just In: Mystics Draft Coleman!

WOO HOO!!! Moments ago, with the second pick in the WNBA draft, the Mystics selected Maryland's own Marissa Coleman! Welcome, Rissa!!!

As our loyal readers know, and as Marissa showed everyone else this season, particularly during the NCAA Tournament, she is a warrior on the court who is ready to take her game to the next level. The BasketCases are very excited to have Marissa join the Mystics, where we expect her to challenge Mo Currie and provide much-needed improvement at the wing.

The Atlanta Dream, who had the overall #1 pick, drafted Angel McCoughtry of Louisville.

Stay tuned for more coverage of today's draft, as we await word of the remaining picks, including the Mystics' overall 23d, 24th, and 28th picks.

Let's say it again: welcome to the Mystics, Marissa Coleman!!

(And for those of you who have recently posted comments on this blog saying you'd buy season tickets if the Mystics drafted Marissa, what are you waiting for? Our very own Mystics ticket rep, Chris Waldmann, would love to hear from you. Call him now at 202-527-7514, and tell him the BasketCases sent you!)

UPDATE: With the third overall pick, the Chicago Sky drafted Kristi Toliver. Way to go, Kristi, and congratulations to the entire Maryland program, with two of the top three picks!!!!

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Update re 2d and 3d rounds: with the overall 23d, 24th, and 28th picks, the Mystics selected guard Camille LeNoir of USC, 6'4" F/C Jelena Milovanovic of Serbia, and 6'3" C Josephine Owino of Union University, Tennessee (by way of Kenya). Welcome to all!


Just to recap, the WNBA draft begins at 3 PM EDT this afternoon. The Mystics have the #2 pick, as well as picks #23, 24, and 28 -- but don't expect to hear household names with those picks (or even players likely to make the roster).

You can watch the First Round live -- in HD -- on ESPN2, and Rounds 2 & 3 on ESPNU and NBA TV.

Stuck at work without cable TV . . . like the BasketCases? Well, here's what you can do: you could follow the picks on . . . or, better yet, have a friend who's actually watching patch you in by speaker phone, so you can follow the progress of the draft telephonically live!

If the Mystics' pick is the one you're most interested in (as are we), the Mystics announced yesterday that they will be "live blogging" from their "war room" starting at 2:30PM. You should be able to access that blog from the Mystics' web site. We're very much looking forward to reading the description of all the war room "action" taking place after Atlanta makes the first pick and the Mystics are "on the clock." Trade calls? Head scratching? A huddle? Actually, more likely no drama at all . . . GM Angela Taylor calmly consulting her board with her ranked list of players, crossing off Atlanta's pick, waiting five minutes, and calling WNBA Prez Donna O to select the top name remaining. (Hopefully followed immediately by happy screaming in our ears by the BasketCases' phone-a-friend.)

Meanwhile, the San Antonio Silver Stars are trying a little one-upsmanship on the Mystics. They promise a live webcast from their war room! So head to their web site if you'd like to see how Coach/GM Dan Hughes is spending his time while he waits for Round 2. Yes, the 2nd Round! The Silver Stars have no pick in the first round . . . so that first hour should be a truly exciting webcast! [Note to Dan: As you're busy crossing off the names of every other team's picks for an hour, don't forget you're on camera. No cursing, no nose-picking and no, ahem, re-adjusting (if you catch our drift).] Sounds like great fun. We can hardly wait to tune in!

Finally, while you're anxiously waiting for 3PM to arrive, be sure to read this very interesting "Draft Q and A" with Angela Taylor posted late yesterday on (with more than simply Angela's thoughts on the draft), as well as Katie Carrera's article in today's Washington Post and Mike Fratto's in the Washington Times about the Mystics' draft options. The Times also takes a look at how the Mystics are doing, from the business end, during this rough economic downturn. ("Fine," according to the headline.) And, of course, you can always read (or re-read) the BasketCases' pre-draft analysis.

Be sure to check back here later for news and thoughts about the Mystics' picks!

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

The college season is now officially over.

Congratulations to the UConn Huskies, who won the National Championship Tuesday night by defeating Louisville, 76-54, and completed the season with a perfect record of 39-0. It's an astonishing accomplishment!

And with the end of the college season, the BasketCases' focus now officially shifts to the WNBA. Immediately below this post is our analysis, from the Mystics' perspective, of this Thursday's WNBA draft. In recent days, Atlanta GM Marynell Meadors has suggested she might use her overall #1 pick in that draft on a guard. If, as some now think she will, she selects Renee Montgomery -- who just led the Huskies to that perfect season -- the Mystics will have everyone on their wish list left on the board -- McCoughtry, Coleman, and C. Paris -- at the positions needing the most attention.

It's going to be a nailbiter on Thursday. The good news is that we can't really lose among that group!

Saturday, April 04, 2009

"With the Second Pick in the 2009 WNBA Draft, the Washington Mystics Select . . ."

The sad news is that the Terps' season is over, but the happy news is that basketball still goes on. And with the WNBA draft now less than a week away, the BasketCases decided it's time we paid some attention to the Mystics.

As our loyal readers know, the Mystics have the second overall pick in the draft, which takes place this coming Thursday, April 9th, at 3 PM EDT. Of course, the BIG question is who the Mystics will select with their #2 pick. Hmmm, let's think about that.

Okay, we've thought about it, and here's our take: unlike last year, when the top three picks were obvious (Parker, Fowles, and Wiggins), the choices at the top of this year's draft are a bit more complicated. There's definitely some consensus about the handful of stellar college seniors who are clear favorites for the top few picks, but the order in which they should or will be selected is what really remains up for grabs (and is being debated endlessly on various message boards).

There's no question that Mystics GM Angela Taylor has her work cut out for her. We know for a fact that she and Head Coach Julie Plank have been racking up the frequent flyer miles, hitting the roads and rails, traveling the country, watching games and practices, talking with coaches and scouts . . . in other words, evaluating the college talent in order to use their draft pick to the Mystics' best advantage.

In terms of who they might choose, back in February, the Mystics' Front Office was very candid in naming six seniors who at that time were at the top of their wish list: "Louisville forward Angel McCoughtry, Oklahoma center Courtney Paris, University of Connecticut guard Renee Montgomery, Auburn guard/forward DeWanna Bonner, and the University of Maryland duo of guard Kristi Toliver and forward Marissa Coleman." This week, a "draft preview" posted on the Mystics' web site called "Breaking Down the Options" listed the same names, except for Bonner's. To the extent this means the Front Office is no longer considering using the #2 pick on Bonner (and there's no way to be sure that's the case), the BasketCases have no quarrel with that decision. We saw Bonner play once in person this winter and were very impressed. But she's about the skinniest person we've ever seen (outside a famine region), and some observers have raised the concern that she may be too slight to play in the extremely physical WBNA. Bonner may simply be too big a risk for such a high draft pick.

As for the other five (McCoughtry, C. Paris, Montgomery, Toliver and Coleman), we certainly agree that they are the group from which the Mystics' 2-pick should be chosen. In fact, we wish the Mystics could take all of them! Each of those players would, in our opinion, be an upgrade for DC. Unfortunately, the Mystics can choose only one. So who might the Mystics draft . . . and why?

At the end of the 2008 WNBA season, it was patently clear that the Mystics needed significant improvement in the frontcourt, at the point, and at the wing. (In other words, just about everywhere! The second-to-last finish was hardly an accident.)

Probably the team's most critical deficiency, at that time, was the lack of a reliable point guard. But during the off-season, the Mystics acquired combo-guard Matee Ajavon in the dispersal draft from the sadly-defunct Houston Comets, and also traded for PG Lindsey Harding of the Minnesota Lynx. As far as we're concerned, the jury is still out on Harding as a pro, who has yet to play a full season in the WNBA due to injuries. But she could, if she remains healthy, significantly improve the Mystics at the point, and clearly GM Taylor and Coach Plank (who both came to the Mystics from the Lynx) are convinced of Lindsey's potential. That being the case, it now seems doubtful that the Mystics -- given their off-season moves -- would use the #2 pick on a point guard. So, as talented as Renee Montgomery and Kristi Toliver are, we're moving both of them down to the "long odds" section of our list.

The Mystics also need improvement at the wing position, and even before their performances over the past two weeks during the NCAA Tournament, it was clear that either of the two wings among the "top five" seniors listed by the Front Office -- McCoughtry and Coleman -- would, indeed, provide that improvement. In fact, some think Angel is so talented that she will (or should) be selected by the Atlanta Dream as the overall #1 pick in the draft. We've heard her compared to a young Sheryl Swoopes, and it's not a bad comparison. So Angel may be gone before it's the Mystics' turn to pick. As for Marissa Coleman, well, there's nothing we need to say that our readers don't already know -- she's extraordinary, period. Her versatility -- being able to play multiple positions -- makes her attractive to WNBA teams, which are required to play many back-to-back games in a very fast and physical league with only an 11-player roster. Mo Currie, the Mystics current starter at the wing position, is a BasketCases favorite, but there's no denying that her pro career so far has been mediocre, at best. We think that either Angel or Marissa would be a significant improvement for the Mystics at the wing, and we wouldn't be the least surprised (or disappointed) if the Mystics Front Office chose one of them.

Which brings us to the frontcourt. During the off-season, the Mystics signed free agent Chasity Melvin, bringing Chas back to DC after that 2007 mid-season trade to the Sky. The ever-popular Chas will provide veteran leadership in the post, but she's closer to the end of her career than the beginning, which is another way of saying that she's not the long-term solution for the Mystics' frontcourt weakness. And as much as we love Nakia Sanford, last season was abysmal. Virtually every successful team in the league has a dominating frontcourt; the Mystics don't. It is quite possible that the exceptionally talented Courtney Paris from the University of Oklahoma might provide that missing piece for the Mystics. Yes, some observers are concerned that she's not in "WNBA shape" right now (a polite way of suggesting that she's fat). Assuming that were true, conditioning can be acquired, but you can't teach size (a cliche, but accurate nonetheless), and the extraordinary rebounding, passing and other skills that CP has don't come along very often. We think that any team that passes on Courtney may well live to regret it.

So there you have it. Which may lead you to wonder who the BasketCases would pick if it were up to us (which of course it isn't). Well, with the caveat that three of the players on the Mystics' list are still playing in the Final Four this weekend (and their performances in St. Louis could raise or lower their draft stock), today we'd take Courtney Paris. That would be our pick . . . but let's be clear: that is not a prediction of what we think the Mystics will do. If the Mystics draft Marissa Coleman or Angel McCoughtry, or surprise us completely with one of the PGs, that player will get a big BasketCases welcome . . . because any one of the 5 would be a quality addition to the Mystics line-up. [*Final Four updates below.]

Who would you pick? Feel free to post a comment and tell us who, and why. And if you feel like it, you can also try to predict who you think Angela will actually select.

By the way, the Mystics have decided not to hold a Draft Party this year, but instead will host an event, tentatively scheduled for April 14th, at which fans will be able to meet the draft pick.

Beginning at 3 PM on Thursday, you'll be able to watch the first round of the draft live -- in HD -- on ESPN2, and the second and third rounds on ESPNU and NBA TV. Of course, if, like the BasketCases, you'll be stuck at work without cable TV, you can follow the picks online on (and then watch the play-back on your DVR when you get home).

It should come as no surprise to anyone that Kristi and Marissa are among the expected "top picks" who have been invited by the WNBA to be present for the draft -- in person -- in Secaucus, New Jersey. As much as we're looking forward to learning who the newest member of the Mystics will be, we'll also be very excited to find out where KT and Marissa will begin (what we expect will be) their long, successful professional careers.

We're counting down the days to April 15th April 9th!

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Monday morning update . . . Courtney's college career came to an end last night, as the Sooners lost a heartbreaker to Louisville, 61-59. In the other national semi-final, UConn routed Stanford, 83-64, setting up an all Big East National Championship game Tuesday night.

Meanwhile, late Monday morning, over on, editor Brian Martin posted a mock draft that has the Mystics picking Courtney. Check out Brian's reasons. (Did he copy from the BasketCases? LOL.)